Winter Reminder: Pause, Breathe, Refocus

Casie Leigh Lukes on pausing and refueling when her resilience cracks.

snowy street

I’m tired this week. If I’m honest with myself, I’ve been tired for a few weeks now. Living in the Midwest during the winter months is always a difficult challenge for me: physically because I’m not outside as much and despise below zero temps, and mentally because I expend so much extra energy trying to stay positive and healthy.

This morning, while scraping my car off in below zero temps again, I felt my mental and emotional resilience crack. Straight down the middle of myself. I suddenly felt like a helpless 4-year-old, wanting to cry and throw a tantrum. I stopped scraping, even though a large portion of my car was still ice-covered, climbed inside, and waited out the time it took the engine to warm up. Shoulders slumped, soul slumped.

This might seem like a dramatic account, and in some ways it is. This was the state my mind, though.

The truth is, I can have as many strategies at the ready as I head into winter. I can set my mind like flint on what matters. I can be fiercely determined to get through it well, to come out stronger than when I went in. But there comes a time (or a few times) each winter here, that I crack. I think a lot of people do.

It doesn’t matter how resources I have — wake-up light alarm clocks, wool sweaters, thick socks, warm coffee, workouts, vitamin D supplements — at some point I find myself crying while doing a simple task like scraping off my windshield.

(MORE: The 5 Best Ways to Build Resiliency)

I eventually made it safely to work, and as I made tea to start the day, I realized I needed to stop: to just breathe deep, listen to some music to refocus my heart and heal my mind, and warm up my frostbitten toes. To tell someone I was having a rough time, my “winter resilience” was worn down, and that I’d been running manic in each area of my life.

In order to be available in the strongest, most positive, and wise way for those around me, I needed to refocus myself. I always know this is needed when the words “stop” or “rest” make me feel panicked.

As I got myself set up to be a productive worker, I saw two quotes I have stuck to my computer monitor:

“I will steady him, and I will make him strong.” Ps. 89:21

“When you begin over, leave only what is truly needed.”

I don’t know who said the second quote — I have Gertrude Stein written, but when I googled it to make sure, it didn’t come up. Regardless, I’m using these to pieces to pause.

I looked through my workload and simplified what it was I really needed to get done, took a breath, and reminded myself, there’s a God out there that can steady and strengthen me — if I ask.

And as for winter? I’ll take it one day, one hour, one car scrape at a time.

(MORE: Three Deep Breaths)

Tell Us: How do you refocus yourself when your resilience starts to crack?

Casie Leigh Lukes is Experience Life‘s digital content specialist.

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