Many people struggle with feeling down and depressed. Even Christians. You may not have been diagnosed by a doctor with depression, but you get a feeling that something is wrong and you don’t know how to control your sad or deflated emotions. There are various reasons that people feel down. It could be caused by poor health, diet, chemical imbalances, stress, medication, lack of rest, and on and on.
I am not a professional counselor, but here are some things I have learned that I hope will help you when life gets you down. And, let me just say in all these activities, it is OK to cry. There is something amazing in the stress relieving effects of crying that just seems to cleanse away many of life’s down times.
Take a Walk
Regular exercise is a known way to help relieve many of the symptoms of depression or moodiness. The amount of exercise you need to do and the energy level you have available vary greatly by person. But even if you don’t feel like taking a 10 mile run in the woods, just get out and walk around the block. Try to schedule regular time to get the exercise you need.
Sun exposure is also a known way to alleviate the effects of some types of depression . But even if you can’t walk in the sun, a good walk in the rain can really be fun. And that crying thing I mentioned earlier is great to do in the rain. You can be out in public and no one will even notice.
You don’t necessarily need to see a professional counselor to benefit from talking with someone about what is going on in life. I have a particular friend I go to when I just need to talk. He has learned that I am not looking for solutions to my problems, but that I simply want to unload my cares and concerns and know someone will be praying for me. Maybe you have a friend like that with whom you can talk.
There are also great Christian counsellors who know how to listen and be an encouragement. Ask your pastor if you can talk with him about your situation. Maybe he is not the best person to help you, but he can recommend someone in the church who can be a help. Many times it will be an older person who has had their share of ups and downs in life. You don’t have to know the person well to get the help you need from talking. In fact, I think many times it helps to talk with someone who may not be regularly involved in your life. Certainly you want to make sure that this person will keep the necessary confidentiality so that you are comfortable enough to share your feelings.
Emotional down times often come hand in hand with being overworked or stressed . Of course, this is usually accompanied by poor health and a general sense of feeling tired.
Get the rest you need. Take some time for recreation. How often do you really take a day off to rest? The principle of the Sabbath day that God demonstrated in Creation and then mandated in the Law is just as healthy and helpful for us today as it was when God instituted it. We don’t need all the Pharisaical laws that were thought up by men to accompany the Sabbath, but we do need some time of rest.
Even Jesus took His disciples away from the multitudes to get some much needed rest (Mark 6:31). Jesus even bids us to come to Him for help in time of stress and receive rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).
It is almost impossible to focus on yourself and your own needs when you are serving those who are less fortunate than yourself. I also understand that your deflated feeling can be caused by too much service to others. This happens when you feel like you are no longer in control, but have to put the needs of others before your own needs. In those cases you need to find a way to set limits and boundaries on what you will and will not do. But there are ways to serve others that can be uplifting.
Find a nursing home and go read a book to someone who can no longer read. I regularly go to a local assisted living home and read to a group of ladies. When I am done with those sessions late in the afternoon I often want to return to my office with renewed energy to get some projects out of the way. Serving others gives a positive change to my mood.
You can find some other church or community service project with which to get involved. It may be to volunteer for a one time event or regularly show up for an ongoing project. There are always weekend festivals and community events that need one-time volunteers. There are also local committees that need regular direction. Find out which one suits you and your needs for service and pour yourself into the lives of others.
Confess Your Sins
The cause of your feelings of depression may not be physical at all. It could be a spiritual issue that you have refused to bring to the Lord. Trying to cover up your spiritual need by many activities could lead to more down feelings. Certainly I am not saying that all depression is caused by sin, but some of it is.
God invites us to build a relationship with Him. If you have never come to Him  for salvation, that is the place you need to start. This does not mean that everything will be perfect from the time of your salvation to the time you step foot in your eternal home, but it is the first step in restoring a proper physical and spiritual balance.
For those who already have a right relationship with the Lord, we need to realize that some of our emotional struggles may be caused by unconfessed sin. The beautiful thing is that God promises He will forgive us. The truth is that He already has! Yet, for our sakes, He invites us to confess our sins to Him and clear the air between us (1 John 1:9). Ask the Lord to reveal to you anything that is going on in your spiritual life that is not right (Psalm 139).
My medical doctor was speaking to a group of pastors and missionaries recently about the subject of depression. He told us that many times when a person away from God is depressed it is because he needs to confess his sins, yet he wants to seek for help in medication, a bottle, or excessive activity. Then, when a person who is already serving the Lord gets depressed, they tend to blame the cause on some unknown sin. He then said that sin can be a cause for depression, but we also have to remember that we live in bodies that are cursed because of sin. There may be illnesses, chemical imbalances, or a multitude of other conditions that can cause us to be out of balance with our emotions. Those things can be helped through proper counseling or medication. Seek the help you need that is appropriate for your situation.
I hope these 5 activities will be a start in helping you find a way through the dark cloud of depression.
Related reading: Christian Depression Help