Making It Through A Pandemic Winter
During a typical winter, as the days get colder and shorter, many Americans suffer from some degree of seasonal depression. During a winter amid a pandemic, the impact is grim.
Forty percent of Americans said last year they were dealing with at least one mental health or drug-related problem, according to federal surveys. Isolation and loneliness appear to be a factor driving these numbers. And social distancing guidelines, while beneficial to public health, make human connection difficult.
But one author suggests withdrawing from the world has its benefits. A few years ago, Katherine May’s husband fell ill. At the same time, May lost her job due to her own health issues as her son’s anxiety prevented him from going to school. She describes this as her own “winter,” a “period in life when you’re cut off from the world… Wintering is usually involuntary, lonely and deeply painful.”
This winter, as we find ourselves amid a worsening pandemic, May suggests there are valuable lessons to be found in the cold. We sit down with her to navigate the realities of loneliness, mental health and to understand why she calls wintering “the active acceptance of sadness.”
Katherine May, former program director for creative writing at Canterbury Christ Church University and author of “Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times”