8 Ways to Get Through Winter
Friday, December 12, 2014
New Church Perspective in Bronwen Henry, depression, hope, temptation, winter

Winter can be a long tiring experience - both natural and spiritual winters. Whether you are experiencing natural winter right now or not, these suggestions from Bronwen are a great way to work on getting out of a slump or focusing on shifting to a "springtime" state of mind. -Editor

The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them. —Parker J. Palmer

Last winter I almost cracked. In addition to recovering from a surgery, the kids having more than 10 days off school, and the power outages, it felt like too much. So many people around me were trying to be positive and yet also really struggling with the length and intensity of the winter. Although seasons are to be expected in the Northeast, they can also be difficult. Of course it isn't just a physical winter I'm talking about, but also dark times in our lives when we feel there is no life, nothing thriving or growing, no hope. I find myself eager to make a plan for the winter (on whatever level it arrives) so that I could do more than just survive. Maybe with a good plan, I can actually thrive. So after talking to a few friends who'd had a similar brush with despair over the winter, I created the following list of To-Do Winter Ideas.

1. Be Purposeful

Be strong and patient. Be gentle and wise. Do every positive thing you can possibly do. And...believe in happy endings...because you are the author of the story of your life. —D. Pagels

2. Move

Moving your body can change your outlook. No matter your physical limitations, find a way to use the parts of your body that are working.

Our spirit is in our body, in its whole and in every part of it. —Emanuel Swedenborg, Secrets of Heaven 4659

3. Explore New Ideas

Behold I am making all things new. —Revelation 21:5

4. Reclaim Your Spiritual Practice

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. —Francis of Assisi

5. Embrace Opportunities for Creativity

6. Challenge Yourself

When life reaches a plateau we can become stuck and it may be time to challenge yourself. Other times, life is challenging enough, thank you very much! (In which case, skip to #7.)

The human mind is a vessel for receiving divine inflow. Yet what is divine does not flow beyond our smoothing of the way or our opening of the door. —Emanuel Swedenborg, True Christianity 34

7. Seek Community

God loves every one of us but cannot directly benefit us; he can benefit us only indirectly through each other. For this reason he inspires us with his love. —Emanuel Swedenborg, True Christianity 457.3

8. Care For Your Physical Surroundings

Even cleaning out a drawer can have significant impact on our state of mind. When you find yourself stuck in the winter, whether stuck inside because of a blizzard outside, or trapped in negative patterns of thought, disrupting, changing and bringing order to your physical surroundings can result in an internal shift.

Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? —Luke 15:8

This winter, we need not just expect ourselves to "get over it" or "deal with it." Instead, we can use the winter time to practice good self-care habits. By doing this, we become better equipped to handle not only the physical winter, but also the hard, winter-like emotional states where joy seems hard to come by.

With these 8 ideas, we can build up our happiness reserves, so that we won't crack when the cold hits. And sometimes, going through the hard winter gives us that extra sense of exhilaration and accomplishment when spring returns once again. As Emanuel Swedenborg wrote, "Heavenly peace may be compared to reaching longed for land after storms and dangers at sea" (paraphrased from True Christianity 304).

I'll close with a prayer for each one of us:

Dear Lord, Creator, Source of all wisdom, all love, all hope, all joy, thank you. Thank you for the beauty of your creation. Thank you for this opportunity to live life. Lord, I know you are already caring for each one of us. I know you are leading us through this dark time. I know you are present even here and even now. Lord, may we open to your loving presence. May we feel that comfort deep in our heart even when storms rage around us. May we remember we are not alone and that we can be part of the work of your loving presence on earth. Amen.

Bronwen Henry

Bronwen leads a team developing small group programs that are for a new kind of Christianity around the world, and she is a small group coordinator for a local church outside Philadelphia. Bronwen delights in the exploration of different religions and embraces that she has yet to master any herself.
Article originally appeared on New Church Perspective (http://www.newchurchperspective.com/).
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