My, time flies!
It seems like it was just yesterday that we saw our hibernating friends off for the Winter and tomorrow they’re scheduled to return to us!
We’ll be thrilled to see them again, but how many of us understand this aspect of their lives? Do we know how they will feel—physically, mentally, and emotionally—in the days after rising?
“Probably not,” says Dr. Gudrun L. Gibbon, a Park psychotherapist who is also on staff at The Park’s Extinction Anxiety Clinic.
“I don’t think most of us even think about it. We just say, ‘Welcome back’ and expect them to resume their lives as they were. We don’t stop to think about the toll that hibernation takes on the body and mind or the length of time it takes to get up and running again,” she says.
For that reason, Gibbon decided to write what some are calling “the definitive guide” to welcoming back our hibernators.
The guide, which is available free of charge throughout The Park, was funded in part by The Department of Well-Being and Safety.
“They got on board right away. They thought it was high time we produced some educational tools on the subject. After all, a significant portion of our population hibernates or estivates. It has an impact on all of us, not just our personal relationships, but on our economy and our political life,” says Gibbon.
So, what should we know about our post-hibernating friends? Gibbon gave us a list of five things to remember when welcoming home post-hibernators:
- Remember that they are not fully awake at first, even if they appear to be
- Remember that hibernation is not rest, per se, and that they will be quite tired for a long period, post-hibernation. So, save the welcome parties for later in the Spring!
- Don’t be insulted or alarmed if they don’t remember some important aspects of your life, or even their own. The deeper sleepers can experience significant memory loss, but this will improve with time
- Give them some time to catch up on what they’ve missed. It’s difficult to take it in all at once
- Don’t try to feed them too much at first. Their stomachs won’t be able to handle it
“I think it’s important for non-hibernators to understand the process,” says Gibbon. “And if you just understand these five things, you’ll be a fantastic friend to a hibernator.”