Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Week Fifty-Three - Four Pills for Depressed People

It seems odd to talk about depression at this most wonderful season of the year, but Christmas can be a downer for the mother trying to create something out of nothing; the father burdened by the financial pressure; the pastor praying for inspiration; and the broken families finding it hard to rise above the challenges to find the joy of the season.

Let's focus on four simple things that can help.

Good exercise. Sitting on the couch counting your miseries will not work. Better to get up, take a walk, run a while on that treadmill, or do a few jumping jacks to get the blood flowing. It helps clear the brain and makes room for new ideas. Exercise is a key to not only physical health but also mental health. So, as long as you remain stationary, your problems will remain there with you. You might be unable to outrun them, but an active body means fewer can cling on! Even the pounds must eventually give way, giving you more energy.

Good diet. And while you are sitting on the couch, are you stuffing your mouth with chocolate and Cheez-Its? Has your diet been fast food and processed meats? You may feel sluggish because your body cries for something fresh and real. My mother used to tell me, "If God made it, you can eat it. If man touched it, you need to beware." So put that clip on the chips and grab a banana! Feed your body foods God made and see if it doesn't respond more positively.

Good sleep. More and more, the medical community is discovering the benefits of a good night's sleep. If you are struggling here, it is no wonder you feel tired and depressed. If there is a medical issue, get it sorted. Meanwhile, good sleep comes when we are right with the world, content and thankful for what we have, and go to bed without worries. It also comes easier when we have put in a good day's work and are tired enough to sleep. 

So, exercise, diet, and sleep are basic, but the fourth pill for depressed people, and the one most missing in today's society, is a good Lord's Day. God designed our week to be six days in which to do our work and one day to rest and focus on Him. For the Israelites, it was the Sabbath. But in the New Testament, Christians began gathering on the first day of the week, Sunday.

I have found benefits from observing both. I work from Monday to Friday, rest and play on Saturday, and rest and focus on the Lord by attending His house on Sunday. 

Church attendance creates a place to get away from my problems and focus on others, listen to God's Word, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart. Christ gave Himself for the church. It is an undeniable part of God's plan for His children. When I skip church, I skip something God designed, and when that part is missing, I am vulnerable to depression. I need the strength and encouragement I draw from fellowship with other believers in collective worship.

We can exercise, eat right, and sleep to strengthen our mental state, but if we fail to exercise and feed our spiritual side, we miss out on a vital part of emotional and mental health. So make it a point this Sunday and for the next several Sundays to attend church. Then, look and see if that little pill hasn't boosted your outlook!

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