Sometimes I feel like I have a dark cloud over my head. I don’t feel like this all of the time, but some days, or even weeks, I can feel that way. I’m not sure if you call it depression or not, but I suppose it can be a mild form of a depressed state.
It is not something that keeps me from working or taking care of my family. But it is something that I sometimes feel as I am living out my day.
I can go weeks and weeks without feeling this way, but then sometimes I will for a period of time. Often it can be explained as being the result of stressful circumstances, fatigue, or disappointments. But sometimes I can feel it even when an honest evaluation of my situation proves that I am a blessed man with little to complain about.
I know I am not alone in this. Everybody, even the most exuberant among us, have days when we feel down. It is normal.
So what do you do when you feel down for a period of time? Some people hide in a room and turn out the lights. They call in sick, get negative on social media, and retreat into an emotional hole. This is rarely a good idea.
Here are twelve things you can do to get through a time when you feel a shadowy cloud over your life…
- Pray: Often when we feel down, prayer and time with God in the scriptures is the first thing to go. But consider God’s Word that say, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) Maybe you don’t feel like praying, but you need to do so. You need to press into the Lord.
- Dare to believe: Remember, you don’t feel great. That blasted cloud. But dare to believe that, regardless of how you feel, God really does care for you. Cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) The more I learn about dealing with my dark cloud the more I have faith in the Lord. I say, “Lord I feel that cloud today. Nothing feels as good as it should. But one thing I know. You care for me whether I feel like you do or not. My feelings don’t change the fact of your love for me.” I cannot tell you how important this kind of faith is to your spiritual and emotional health.
- Rest: I said before that it is not a great idea to hide in some dark room when you are down. But it is true that sometimes a little rest in a dark room could be good. Many times our emotional state is the result of fatigue. Sometimes the cloud is an indicator that your systems are depleted and it is time to slow down for a spell. You don’t want to languish there, but it is sometimes a very good thing to get some extra rest to rejuvenate.
- Go for a walk outside: Get out of the house or the office and walk outside. Sometimes the fresh air, the more expansive perspective is a great help to seeing the world in a fuller and more positive light. Furthermore, it gets your body moving, blood flowing, and this results in more oxygen to your brain and often a much more resourceful state of mind. Sometimes listening to upbeat music as you walk can lift the spirit.
- Look up: When you are down, you tend to look down. Force yourself to look up. Go outside and look into the sky. Maybe even climb a hill, or go to an upper floor of a building and look from a higher elevation. Just the perspective change can let you know that the world is bigger than your circumstances or challenges. Looking down depresses. Looking up lifts you to fresh dimensions of hope.
- Force a resourceful posture: God made our bodies and minds to work together. When you feel down, your shoulders tend to slump. You often curve your back and drop your chin. Choose instead to sit up straight, throw your shoulders back, lift your chin and choose a smile. Some people say this is when you “fake it until you make it.” I don’t think it is faking it. I simply think you are choosing a better path. Try this out. You will be surprised with how much power you can have over your own mood, just with posture.
- Don’t isolate: I can’t stress this enough. People who are depressed usually flee from interaction with others. Yet that isolation only fuels the depression. Be a part of a group. This is why our regular, weekly, involvement in church is so important. We were never meant to do life alone. You might not always feel like being with people, and it is ok to be alone sometimes, but it is vital that we have regular and positive relationship with others.
- Serve Someone Else: Get out of yourself and get your focus off yourself. Orbiting around your cloud only stirs up the cloud and makes it look bigger. It is an excessive focus on yourself. Look at someone else’s need and try to meet it in some way. This can make such a difference.
- Eat well: When you are down you can crave sugars, or mood altering drugs/alcohol. Don’t do that. Eat plenty of vegetables, healthy proteins, fruit, and whole grains. In a physical sense, you really are what you eat. And a healthy body can be a resourceful home for a vibrant soul.
- Exercise rigorously and regularly: It really is a good idea to have a routine exercise plan you live out. You must find what works for you and do it.
- Embrace the cloud: This is important. Accept that sometimes you are going to feel like you are under the cloud. Sometimes you will do these twelve things and still feel the cloud for a while. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by that. Learn to live with a mood on occasions. Sometimes I feel that cloud and I say to God, “Lord I feel the cloud today. I am going to get up anyway, pray, believe, relate to others. Help me move forward despite the cloud and not be defined by the cloud’s shadow.”
- Ask yourself what you can learn about yourself during this time: Sometimes the down times, when you are desperate for God’s strength and wisdom, can be the times of greatest learning. These are the times when you learn your limits and God’s limitlessness. Ask the Lord to teach you during these times.
Let me say, that there are some people for whom the cloud is much more serious. There are levels of depression that can be much more severe than what I have described here. For such people, seeking godly professional help can be very important. No one should ever be ashamed to get the kind of medical and spiritual counsel they need to get through a severe season of depression. If I am describing you, I encourage you to seek help. There are people that can assist you in your recovery from crippling depression.
Question: What are things that help you get through a down time? You can leave a comment by clicking here.