We all have our “dark days”. Those days you just can’t muster the energy to get out of bed. Those days you don’t want to eat, or maybe you want to eat everything in sight and binge away whatever it is you’re going through. You may not even be going through anything at all. You may just feel dreary because you’re having an off day or your battling with mental illness. Whatever it may be, trust me when I say: you are not alone. Depression, whether is be situational or major depressive disorder, is ever-present in our society and many battle with it each day. I want to assure you, it is okay to struggle and to feel broken. While it never feels okay, things will lighten up and your depression will lift. This doesn’t mean you have to sit with it, though. Take an active step in combating your mood or preventing these episodes with some Christian soul food as I’ve listed here below.
1. Get out in nature
Take time to take in everything around you. Bare witness to the miracle of His creation…His miracle…interesting… Often, our faith may be questioned or we may question our own faith because “there is no physical proof.” Open your eyes! You’re looking at proof all around you. We read the Bible and read of the miracles of Christ and think “Well I’ll never see a miracle” or we pray that God would “prove” Himself and show us a miracle to strengthen our faith. Guess what. You’re breathing, living, standing, on His greatest miracle of all! Never forget to appreciate this and take time to see His little “love notes” of beauty on this earth.
Serve the poor and your community in His name. Jesus came to earth and became poor so that you might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). As He did for you, he asks that you do for His people. He that serves the poor, serves God (Proverbs 19:17). There will always be someone in need, something to invest in (Deuteronomy 15:11, Matthew 26:11).
Be still (Psalm 46:10). The Bible tells us to meditate on His word, day and night (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2). Take time to reflect on His word, the promises He has made to you, and how you might reflect His word in your own life and attitude. In your meditation, feel the comfort of His presence around you, working in your daily life. For some guided, religious meditation, check out the app “Abide” in the app store! It has daily guided meditations with peaceful background music which you can customize and multiple options for length so you can choose how long you want your meditation to be to fit your needs. It also has a variety of guides on topics including, but not limited to: anger, blessing, depression, anxiety, forgiveness, hope, guidance, and purpose (plus a bunch more so be sure to check it out!). You won’t be disappointed!
Rest and trust that God is working to move mountains for you. You can sleep knowing the Lord is watching over you and you are safe in His arms (Exodus 33:14, Psalm 4:8). Allow the Lord to sustain and renew you through sleep (Psalm 3:5). Allow God to lift the burden off of your shoulders and rest (Matthew 11:28-30). Taking time to rest does not mean you are allowing yourself to be lazy. The Lord understands when you are battling with depression and when it is too heavy to carry and you therefore can rest and be restored in His name as you need.
Heed caution with this one. Depression or anxiety or whatever it is can affect people in different ways. A common manifestation with depression is insomnia and this is what is reflected in this tip. For me personally, depression tends to make me very lethargic so I find it more helpful to be do something active to lift my spirits.
Write out your thoughts, openly and honestly. Write letters to God; start a prayer journal; journal reflecting on your Bible study and on the things the Lord has shown to you (Jeremiah 30:2). Share your most intimate thoughts and ideas on paper (Habukkuk 2:2). The app I mentioned above, Abide, also incorporates journaling into the meditations which is another reason to check it out and try it for yourself! Bible journaling is also a great way to actively read the Bible and enhance your study!
6. Set Goals
Setting goals can be a great way to plan and practice intentionality and purpose in your life. Set goals, make a plan, and work hard to achieve what you most desire in life. You are capable of accomplishing anything with God in your life (Phillipians 4:13). After you’ve set your goals, hold yourself accountable and practice discipline to find success (1 Corinthians 9:25).
7. Love Yourself (& exercise/ eat right!)
Eat to nourish your body, filling it with the vitamins and nutrients it needs. Exercise a few times a week and life an active lifestyle, not for your looks, but for your health. Honor your body, if for no other reason than because it is a creation of God and you honor Him by honoring it (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Romans 12:1).
Stop. Stop doing, stop thinking and just breathe. In. Out. Give yourself a moment to collect yourself and focus on nothing more than your breath. Try some breathing exercises, extend your breaths, count as you inhale and exhale each breath, use imagery to picture positivity and the presence of Christ entering your body with each inhale and all your negative emotions leaving your body with each exhale. So long as you breathe, the Lord is with you in this body (Job 27:3).
Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Take time to have an intimate, soul conversation with Christ. Be vulnerable and raw and open with Him. The Lord hears your cries and He is with you in your prayer (1 John 5:14, Psalm 34:17). Nurture your soul with this conversation with God. The times we most need God’s comfort are often the times we deprive ourselves of this soul-nurturing time (2 Corinthians 1:4). And know, that God is not a feeling but a friend, a confidant, and a father (Proverbs 17:17). These vulnerable and intimate conversations we have with Him allow us to know God and restore out souls.
Friend, please do not give up on yourself or on Him. Know that He is working intentionally in your life and things will lift. This time in your life when you are feeling this way will not last forever. Try some of these things to lift your spirit when you are in need. I pray you find peace and happiness and He restores you and lifts you up, and in the meantime, I pray you trust in Him and believe He is working intentionally, using your brokenness for His will.