I’m writing this for myself as much as I am for you. I’m not typically a depressed person, but recently I’ve noticed moments this year where a heaviness threatens to sit on me and stay with me, like a stray dog you can’t shake off.
Depression is a very real emotion and enemy to your soul and your calling in God. I’ve found it takes a fight and determination to push that clinging darkness out of your being and stop the havoc it can wreak, affecting your work, your relationships, your spiritual life and even your physicality -- energy levels, sleep patterns, weight gains. What are they calling it in 2020, the COVID 15?
The psalmist David -- king, warrior, worshiper, songwriter -- was not immune to depression. The very guy who slashed off Goliath’s head, lead the army of Israel time after time into victorious battle, and wrote 73 psalms that have become a beloved comfort to people all over the world dealt with depression.
“I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear… Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens…” (Psalm 143:4, 7)
It’s often hard to pinpoint the source of the heaviness, and let’s be honest, with COVID continuing to plague our world and alter our societies, even the most optimistic person can become prone to depression.
Although I’m not an expert and I realize there are cases where people need to seek out a doctor’s care, if you’re dealing with an unexplained hopelessness, here’s a checklist to help you fight depression off your life and regain the spiritual stamina to be God’s hope and beacon of light in this world.
1. Check your habits: spiritual, emotional, relational, physical.
Are they healthy? Or are they coping mechanisms that have crept into your life as restrictions continue with the pandemic?
Are you spending time in God’s word daily and incorporating those truths into your life?
Or… are you allowing unhealthy self-talk that’s pulling you down?
Are you finding ways to cultivate friendships even with the current restrictions?
Are you making time to eat healthy, take your vitamins and get physical exercise?
2. Check your routines.
Many of us have had to shift schedules and daily routines this year. Good or bad, just making those changes can add stress to your life. Take a moment to re-evaluate your current schedule.
Is it manageable? Does it add stress or relieve stress?
Do you have control over your schedule? If not (such as a work schedule or your child’s school schedule), is there a way to make it less stressful?
Do you have a Sabbath day of rest incorporated into your week or are you allowing the days to merge into a giant (stressful) blur?
3. Check your joy levels.
This can sound cliché, but it’s a healthy exercise to know what brings you joy and then make time for that within your life. God created you and often those moments of joy can be the signposts to a life that is fully satisfying to you and fully pleasing to God.
What brings you joy?
What makes you feel alive and happy and satisfied?
Are there ways you can incorporate those moments into your life?
Even as you’re reading this, you’ve probably already pinpointed certain habits and routines that create stress and anxiety in your life, making you susceptible to depression. I hope you’ve also gained a fresh realization of the things that truly bring you joy.
Develop a battle plan to make changes and alterations where you can -- and a prayer plan to pray through those things that seem out of your control. As you take action, you’ll sense hope stirring. Light will start breaking through and the depression will start to lift.
Remember King David and the depression that was threatening to overtake him? He cried out to God and literally praised himself through the hopelessness to a place where he could proclaim:
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” (Psalm 30:11-12, NLT)
May God give you the grace and strength today to strategically fight depression and reclaim joy.