By Kirstyn Mayden, Crosswalk.com
As the days become shorter and it gets darker earlier, I find the Fall and Winter seasons more difficult to be productive, and it takes more energy to do routine tasks. Sound familiar? With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, coupled with a challenging time for those that may be grieving the loss of loved ones, seasonal depression can set in, and it is a real battle that many face.
While many of us have occasional mood swings or decrease in energy, others have prolonged periods of depression. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression that gets triggered by a change in seasons, usually when Fall starts.” It affects daily functioning.
Seasonal depression is not something to be dismissed or over-spiritualized, but it is to be properly acknowledged and seen. For various reasons, seasonal depression can create major internal struggles, including feelings of isolation, rejection, and abandonment. If you experience seasonal depression, here are some practical tips to help and encourage you:
1. Seek Community
While seasonal depression is a real experience, it can be isolating and lonely. An important way to help you press forward through this season is to seek community. While your circumstances may not immediately change, seeking the encouragement, support, or listening ear of community is essential to not feeling alone. A trusted friend, small group, or online affinity group are all examples of communities where you can share similar struggles, be uplifted and motivated to move forward daily. God created us to be in relationship with one another to navigate and overcome life’s challenges, joys, and various life seasons together.
Seasonal depression is not only a psychological and mental battle, but a spiritual one. While the enemy would love to keep us wallowing and steal our joy, God wants us to overcome through Christ Jesus. Seeking community will not ensure that seasonal depression will instantaneously dissipate, but it is an extremely valuable resource to help support you as you navigate challenging times.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
God created us to be in community and form strong, Godly relationships for encouragement and support.
2. Seek God’s Word
When you experience seasonal depression, I invite you to seek God’s Word and draw closer to Him. The benefits of seeking God’s Word during difficult seasons are many: you will have a renewed sense of peace, purpose, and encouragement. During isolating seasons, it is easy to want to retreat and distance ourselves from everyone and everything – including God. Instead of shrinking back and retreating away, I encourage you to meditate on two or three scriptures that you will lean on to help you overcome.
When you feel weak, meditate on Philippians 4:13: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
Feeling lonely? James 4:8 states, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
There is no emotion, circumstance, or situation that you have or will experience that God’s Word does not address.
God’s Word is the best prescription to help heal our bodies, renew our minds, and restore our broken spirits. When you feel like quitting, God’s Word will invigorate and refresh you to keep moving forward.
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3. See a Professional Counselor
Going to see a counselor to help talk you through different challenges you are experiencing with seasonal depression can be helpful. Often times, a counselor is trained to listen objectively, identify recurring behavior patterns, and offer practical strategies for you to implement. There are also faith-based counselors available if you prefer.
Seeing a counselor is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, but is an active decision you are making to utilize the community and resources that God has placed around you. God provides us not only His Word, but trained professionals to support and help us along the way.
If you are looking for a faith-based counselor in your area, visit The American Association of Christian Counselors for a directory.
4. Go Outside
Going outside for a walk and to get some sunshine definitely helps to lift our spirits and help combat seasonal depression. Breathing in fresh air helps to boost and strengthen our countenance, and reminds us of the beauty of God’s creation. Despite our current feelings or mood, seeing and experiencing God’s creation provides us hope and reassurance that God is with us. When we are able to get a change of scenery, our perspective shifts and our minds are renewed.
If you are not able to go outside, I invite you to spend time in a different part of your house to create variety in your routine. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one and going to certain places outside triggers difficult emotions, I encourage you to celebrate the sacred memories that those familiar places are to you. Going outside helps to open up our airways, clear our minds, and make room for continued renewal and refreshing. God doesn’t want us to stay in isolation, but become connected with others and the beauty of God’s creation.
Whether you are currently dealing with seasonal depression or have done so in the past, there is good news! God is present with you and you are not alone. There are numerous opportunities, and resources to support you in moving forward and finding community. God has empowered and equipped you to acknowledge where you are, and utilize the variety of ways around you to move forward with God’s grace. Today, I invite you to continue to seek community, seek God’s Word, consult a professional counselor, and go outside more and be revitalized by God’s creation.
No matter how you may feel, God provides hope, restoration, wisdom, and healing for your body, mind, and spirit. Be encouraged today and strengthened for tomorrow. God still has an amazing purpose and plan for your life.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/FotoDuets
Kirstyn Mayden is a Christian blogger who writes devotionals that empower and equip believers in their everyday lives. She is a wife, Mom, and loves Jesus. She has a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. For the last 20 years, Kirstyn has served in several ministry capacities. She has a passion to serve with women empowering them to grow and live out their God-given purpose. Currently, she serves alongside her husband in ministry in West Virginia. She is the author of Merciful Moments: A Devotional Journal for Moving Forward with Grace Each Day. Connect with Kirstyn’s blog here.