It’s my most favorite time of the year; fall. There’s just something so biblical about the changing of the seasons. Where I live, the green fades out of sight into shades of red, amber and brown, as God’s creation prepares to rest. The roots grow down and transformation takes place in the unseen depths of the earth. The changing colors sweep away a humid August that is cast out by the cool, crisp air of September and it excites me as I too prepare to rest for the long season ahead. Candles, warm drinks, crunchy leaves under my feet and cozy sweaters on a chilly day; it’s what my fall dreams are made of. Yes, I love fall but it doesn’t always love me back.
With all the parts of this season that I adore, there comes with it parts that I hate. Longer days of summer quickly transform into shorter days with longer stretches of darkness. As the sun fades, my energy level tends to go with it and sometimes without realizing it, I will slip into a deep depression. I’m not alone. Millions of people suffer from seasonal depression too. Perhaps you know this beast all too well. You’re not alone either.
Having known deep darkness in my life doesn’t make me want to befriend it anytime soon, so, I’m choosing to stay proactive in doing whatever I can to stave off the fall and wintertime blues. Attacking it early is usually the best approach for most illnesses and I find that when I throw up my fists, so to speak, before it sets in, I have the best chance at keeping it away. In a previous post, “21 Ways To Care For Yourself When You’re Depressed”, I shared helpful tips for depression but now I’d like to offer you 5 things you can do right now before seasonal depression sets in. If you’re finding this article and you’re already stuck in depression, it’s not too late! These things can help you beat it too!
Seasonal Depression: 5 Things You Can Do Right Now
1. Light Up The Darkness
When you’re depressed, the darkness tends to take hold. Motivation leaves and it’s easy to be glued to your couch or stay in bed with the curtains closed. Before long, everything can feel dark from the space you live within to your outlook on life. One way to fight this is by lighting up your surroundings. I love to place twinkle lights everywhere. I decorate around my plants and photos with them, on dark shelves and in pockets of my living areas that don’t get much light. In the same effort to bring light into the darkness, I love to light candles. In the evening when I’m relaxing and when I wake early in the morning for my time with God, I surround myself with warm flickering lights. From the twinkle lights to the candlelight, I’m reminded that beauty exists in a world that oftentimes feels dark and depressing. When I surround myself with light and beauty, I’m more likely to stay in a heart posture that tends toward gratitude rather than negativity or feeling sorry for myself.
2. Meditate On Scripture
Filling our hearts and minds with the word of God keeps us connected to what truly matters, especially in a world that often feels against us. Inside our pockets lives a screen that is constantly trying to distract us, scare us and stress us out. We have a choice to make every day; endlessly scroll through the chaos of the world or spend that time hiding away the word of God on our hearts. When we read our Bibles, speak aloud truth and meditate on these things, we are filling our hearts and minds with the goodness of God rather than focusing on everything in this world that aims to pull us down with it. Memorizing scripture is also helpful in refocusing our thoughts from negativity to God’s grace and love. Here are just some of my favorites.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
“He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.”
“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”
3. Practice Gratitude
Depression keeps us stuck in a cycle of negative outlooks and a state of emotional numbness. It can be hard to feel grateful when you feel nothing at all. For this reason, it’s so important to practice daily gratitude. Take a moment and go over to this previous post, “Gratitude In Every Season” for a FREE download of a gratitude journal page that I designed to help you record your blessings. Use it to record things that you’re grateful for. Write one thing on it every day or several but when we name what we have to be grateful for, it not only postures our heart toward thankfulness for what God has blessed us with, but there is actually science to back up how gratitude positively impacts the brain and body. Amazing, isn’t it? Some of the ways gratitude benefits our health is by decreasing our heart rate, strengthening our emotional response and enhancing the motivation-related activity of the brain. It also causes the hypothalamus to work better which regulates things like hunger, sleep, body temperature and metabolism. So, stay grateful!
4. Get A Yearly Physical
How’s your vitamin D level? What about your iron? Are you getting enough vitamin B? As we head into fall & winter, now would be a good time to schedule a yearly physical with your doctor. A blood test can check for deficiencies and you can discuss nutrition and the possible need for supplements at your appointment. There are several studies out there that suggest that being deficient in vitamins D, B12, B9 and iron will put you at a greater risk of depression. Being proactive includes making your health a priority. When we put it off, we pay the price.
Most people who are not in the habit of exercising, tend to stay idle until January rolls around with all its regret of holiday indulgences. If you don’t enjoy exercising or have fallen behind, fall is actually the perfect time to get back on track and refocus your health goals. It’s never too late to get started again and staying active in fall and winter will absolutely help you fight off depression. It’s an act of opposition to the depression that dares to keep you in bed and unmotivated. It’s a step of action for good health, both physically and mentally speaking. So get moving! A brisk walk daily outside or on the treadmill will do wonders for your overall health. If you haven’t gone for a walk in a while it may be difficult at first. Don’t give up, it will get easier and your body will thank you!
If you’re dreading the season ahead because you know it usually brings with it seasonal depression, hang in there, friend and don’t give up! Staying proactive can help keep the fall and wintertime blues away or improve your chances of overcoming it quickly!
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