Over the past couple months I’ve received a few emails from people who struggle with depression. The question (sometimes unspoken) is, “Is there something wrong with me spiritually? Am I experiencing depression because of sin in my life?”
While this is a valid question to consider (sin and it’s consequences can certainly cause depression) just because we experience depression doesn’t mean sin is the root cause.
One reader shared with me she knows her depression is related to the winter season… but she still feels like maybe she isn’t doing enough, isn’t the best Christian she should be, and that perhaps the problem is spiritual.
While today’s post won’t address depression in full, I want to encourage those reading to know depression is not always spiritual. Sometimes it is physical. Sometimes it is chemical. And sometimes it is seasonal.
As my team mate Rebekah and I have prayed for the readers here at arabahjoy.com, we’ve discussed this issue in particular. Rebekah understands SAD on a personal level and agreed to write a post to discuss seasonal depression in the hopes of encouraging others. If you are experiencing the “winter blues,” we hope today’s post will give you hope, encouragement, and practical steps to improve those dreary days.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Christian
***I’m not a doctor or a professional. This article is not to replace or be taken as medical advice.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is something that many people struggle with. It’s a physical issue manifest with depression that we often see in winter and is brought on by a decrease in sunlight. You might find yourself feeling down, with a lack of energy, and generally not interested in activities that usually provide enjoyment.
Dealing with SAD can impact most areas in our lives. We feel sad and discouraged, and that often carries over from our feelings into other areas of our lives. For example, I might be feeling quite confident in my parenting – my kids are behaving well and we’ve found a good routine. As we set the clock back and lose an hour of sunlight, I begin to find myself less patient, more irritable, and generally frustrated with my kids.
What changed? It wasn’t their behavior, it wasn’t my heart attitude, it was the season – the lack of sunlight.
I have a favorite spot in my house – the end of the couch right by the front window. I can look out and see the day, see the birds and squirrels that scamper across the driveway, watch my kids as they play outside. It’s quite a convenient spot to sit. It’s also one of the darkest places in my home. If not for the lamp beside the couch, I struggle to see when it gets dark. It’s easy to just grab a blanket and snuggle up, but sitting in that darkness does not help my already-low feelings. The longer I stay, the worse I tend to feel. I pray, I read Scripture, but still the feelings linger.
How can I change my heart when the problem isn’t spiritual?
I’m going to share some tips that have helped me. Please know, though, that I strongly encourage spending time in prayer about this type of situation. After all, the Lord has created us and knows us best! In addition to that, though, He has given doctors and counselors the ability to know and understand our bodies and the way we are made, and the wisdom to provide assistance.
Here are 5 tips for dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
Seek assistance. Share your struggle with someone – maybe your spouse, a doctor, a counselor or pastor, or a trusted friend. Let someone know that you are having a tough time. And if the issues persist and get worse, please do contact a professional.
Let the light in. On bright, winter days, I will go through and open all the curtains in the house. I don’t just mean turning the blinds so they’re open, but rather pulling back all the curtains (and opening any blinds or shades) so the sun comes streaming in. My dining room gets full sunshine in the afternoon, so I will even pull a chair right by the window and sit there with my Bible or a book I’m reading and I’ll soak in the sunshine for a bit.
Do you have young kids? Chances are they want to be outside no matter how cold it might be. Bundle up during the warmest part of the day and enjoy a walk with them. Take note of nature around you – birds, the shape of the branches on different shrubs and bushes, pick up a pretty rock, look for animal prints.
Take your vitamins. Our bodies need Vitamin D and when we’re deficient, particularly in winter, we are more likely to see the symptoms of SAD. To find more information on the impact of Vitamin D and SAD by visiting here or here, or simply do a search for Vitamin D and SAD.
***I am not a doctor or professional. Any medical / medicinal treatments need to be approved by a professional.
Eat well. Personally, I feel better when I’m eating proteins and fruits and vegetables during the darker months. Comfort food provides just that – comfort – but it leaves me feeling sluggish, tired, and like I just want to crawl under the cover on my favorite spot on the couch. A bit of dark chocolate is a nice treat and helps boost my mood.
Self-Care. This will mean something different to each of us. I like to turn on worship music while I wash the dishes. I also try to get active – do housework or go for a walk outside. I also like to light a candle sometimes and enjoy the fragrance. Maybe you like an afternoon cup of tea – try drinking it in the sunshine. Maybe you like some quiet time in the evening – try some worship music to keep your mind on worship rather than on your feelings.
Resources that might help:
I find myself coming back to these resources here at ArabahJoy.com, so I want to share them with you as well. Even though the issue is physical / biological, we can still be rooted in God’s Word as we journey through the tough times.
So Great a Salvation – How to Preach the Gospel to Yourself
Preaching the gospel to ourselves means allowing our thinking, emotions, and responses to daily be shaped by the truth of the gospel. This series gives you practical help in preaching the gospel to yourself using key gospel concepts.
How Praying the Promises of God Each Morning Transforms My Day
This journal will guide you through praying different promises of the gospel, such as forgiveness, adoption, righteousness, transformation, and much more. Let the gospel transform you afresh!
How to Plan Your Own DIY Personal Spiritual Retreat
Do you take regular spiritual retreats? Here are three biblical reasons why you should!
I hope the resources shared here are of help to you. We certainly need the support of others, but we need to be doing our best to keep our body healthy. Often we put ourselves behind what seem like the priorities, but friends, if we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we aren’t going to be a help to anyone else.
What other resources have you found to be effective in dealing with SAD? Please share them below in the comments so that we can all benefit.
Remember that medical questions / treatments should be discussed with your doctor or healthcare provider first.
Rebekah has been completely overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of the Lord in her life. He has proven His faithfulness in every area of her life, especially in her marriage. She has come to understand the power of redemption and God’s work in her own marriage. Her goal is to be Sharing Redemption’s Stories – encouraging wives who are praying for redemption in their marriage. You can connect on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.