I’ve struggled with depression since my teens, but didn’t realize it until much later. Often, my mind would go straight to the worst case scenario, I could feel a dark cloud over my head that seemed to follow me around, my mind was so cloudy and I couldn’t concentrate. I felt like I was just waiting for horrible things to happen in my life. I didn’t feel happy, even though there was nothing really going wrong in my life. Sometimes I didn’t feel anything at all. I felt horrible about myself, I felt like I was unlovable. I have dealt with chronic pain my whole adult life and I know that contributed to my depression. Over the years, I’ve learned not only to just cope, but to battle my depression as if my life depends on it, because it really does. The Lord wants to give me abundant life and there are times when I need to fight the darkness of depression while keeping my eyes on Him.
Here are 12 ways I’ve learned to fight depression:
It’s amazing what fresh air can do to a cloudy mind. Take in the sights and sounds and breath deeply.
Gently stretch your muscles.
When I’m depressed I tend to stay on the couch for way too long and my muscles and joints are super still when I get up. Keeping those muscle stretched will lessen the pain.
Take a walk
Get your heart rate up. Get those endorphins flowing.
Call a trusted friend
Don’t text, be brave and make the call. Hearing the voice of someone who loves you will help lift your spirit, especially if that person will lift you up in prayer and point you to the Lord. Let them know you are struggling and need encouragement.
Eat healthy food
Don’t worry about dieting or restricting calories, just put good food into your body to fuel you.
Get on a sleep schedule
When I’m depressed I am so tired. I want to sleep all the time. It’s like my bed calls for me every time I walk by. But If I give in and sleep during the day, I’m usually up at night, and I get into a yucky cycle. Choose a bedtime and wake time and stick to it. For me that’s 10 pm – 6 am.
The Lord already know the thoughts in your head, the fears you have, the desperation you are feeling. Cry out to Him, be completely honest about your need for help. Ask Him for wisdom. He will give it to you freely.
Listen to uplifting music
For me that’s usually JJ Heller. Her music is soothing, full of hope and easy to sing along with. If that’s not doing it for me, Happy by Pharrell Williams, Can’t Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake and Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) by C&C Music Company are my next go-tos.
Fight the lies in your head with the truth of God’s Word
I open my journal and make a line down the page. On the left hand side I write what I’m feeling and on the right hand side I write Bible verses stating truth. Then I write down the application for my life.
“I am worthless.”
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8
God loves me so much that He sent His own son, Jesus, to die for my sins, even before I was repentant of them.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”-1 John 1:3
The Creator of the whole universe calls me His child!
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us.”-1 Corinthians 5:20
I have work to do. I have a purpose. My purpose in life is to share the Gospel and the love of Christ with people. That’s a really important job!
“I can’t do this anymore. It’s just too hard.”
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”-Psalm 46:1-3
When we feel like everything is falling apart around us, or even just in our head and our emotions, we don’t have to be strong on our own. Our strength comes from God, and He’s not lacking at all!
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”-Isaiah 41:10
God is always with us, there to strengthen us, help us and uphold us.
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” -Psalm 9:9-10
When we are feeling oppressed by our feelings, the Lord is our refuge and we are safe in Him.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9
His grace is enough to keep me going. His grace is enough to comfort me. When I am weak, His strength gets to be on display, because when I have nothing left to give and I feel like I can’t go on, but I choose to anyway, that is HIS strength, not mine.
Put your focus on someone else in need
When I’m in a dark place and I keep mulling over negative stuff in my mind, I can change that by helping someone else. It may be that someone at church is ill or has just had a baby and could use a healthy, homemade meal. I can make a hearty soup and write that person a little note letting them know they are on my heart and bring it to them. I can pay for someone’s groceries in line behind me. I can buy a gift card and give to a family I know is struggling financially. All of these things get my eyes off of myself and put me on mission with Christ to love people.
Talk to a counselor or therapist
I was in a really bad place after I had my first son, so I reached out and started seeing a therapist. He gave me lots of tools I still use today to figure out why I’m feeling the way I’m feeling and how to work through it. He helped me figure out when and why my fears and insecurities started and how to accept who I am now, while working toward being the person I want to be. I was able to talk as much as I needed to, while being guided by my therapist to dig deeper. It was so beneficial to me!
Call your doctor
I know that depression is often clinical – it is for me, and doing all the things in the list above isn’t going to make your depression all better! It is wise to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and find out if medication may benefit you. I’ve been on an antidepressant for almost 3 years and it has made a world of difference. I still struggle some days, but far less than before. And when I have those days, I implement the list above.