Christmas is supposed to be a time of great joy! Unfortunately, for a lot of people it is a sad reminder that someone they love is no longer with them, or they can’t afford to lavish their loved ones with expensive gifts, or maybe they have no friends or family to celebrate with. Add to this the many who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the list continues to grow.
If you are among those who are naturally “joyful” count your blessings! When you see someone suffering from Holiday blues don’t try to ‘cheer’ them up. Instead, simply offer them the gift of compassion and understanding. Validate their feelings. Believe it or not, in doing so you will bring them joy.
It took a relative of mine pointing out my tendency to withdraw and become depressed around the holidays to help me recognize that I have seasonal affective disorder. Recognizing it was the first step toward dealing with it. Hopefully my journey will help those of you who may be suffering in silence.
As a Christian it’s easy to feel conflicted about depression. After all, I have SO much to be thankful for! But, I am a Melancholy. No doubt about it. So, how do I combat this overwhelming desire to dig a hole and hide from God and humanity when my emotions betray me?
Rest: When I am tired my emotions plummet. The holidays are busy and it’s easy to overdo. I have to make a conscious effort to take extra care of my body when I begin to feel emotionally drained.
Resist: When the “blues” stop by for a visit it’s tempting to withdraw. I have to resist the urge to isolate myself. There is a balance between rest and the temptation to hibernate for the winter! Thankfully, I have a dog. That forces me to get outside for some fresh air. There is something uplifting about enjoying God’s creation in nature. The point is, even if you don’t have a dog, get outside. Take a walk. Go visit a friend. Do something … anything other than crawling back into bed.
Reflect: Do you keep a prayer/praise journal? If not, I highly recommend it! It’s easy to focus on the negative when we are down. Having a praise journal will enable you to go back and reflect on the good things God has done in your life. Gratitude is very therapeutic. Life is tough. It’s okay to feel what you feel. It’s not okay to allow your feelings to consume your life and keep you from living. Reflection helps me keep things in perspective.
Refresh: I honesty don’t know how people who don’t have God in their life make it. I’ve heard people say religion is a crutch, but I prefer to think of it as a ROCK! When all other ground is “sinking sand” He is my stability.
Psalm 16:11 says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” Isaiah 61:3 talks about God’s gifts for consolation … He gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
When I am lacking joy, the most refreshing thing I can do is get into the presence of God! How do we do that? We enter His gates with thanksgiving. We come into His courts with praise. (Psalm 100:4)
I LOVE to worship. Anytime I want to be in God’s presence, I simply turn on my favorite worship music, close my eyes, picture the throne room of Heaven and sing to The Lord. I can imagine the angels of Heaven bowing before Him crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” There is no sorrow in Heaven!
PRAY: Father, Thank You for loving me, “just as I am.” As we enter this season of celebrating Your birth, help me to focus on the true source of my joy … Your presence. I echo the choir of Heaven and cry out: Holy, Holy, Holy are You Lord! Help me to recognize the warning signs of depression and to combat them by spending time in Your loving embrace.