Thursday, January 2, 2014

Beating the Seasonal Blah's - Living Lessons

Church bulletin article for January 5th, 2014  

Beating the Seasonal Blah’s: by Christopher Wiles

Do any of you struggle with what is properly known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?  When I was taking pastoral counseling classes at Lipscomb, I first heard about SAD.  Being young and inexperienced, I mistakenly thought it was a joke when my professor taught on it during a class on depression.  As I got married and got to know more people on deeper levels, I came to experience the seasonal blah’s as an authentic phenomenon that produces real struggles. Whether SAD comes from the let-down after Christmas adrenaline, from upsetting the diet with too many sweets, or from the winter lack of sunlight, many people are affected this time of year by varying levels of depression. 

While it’s not necessarily something you’ll find in one of my counseling textbooks, I think you’ll find my following “Four P’s” useful to beat SAD and encourage you to read familiarize yourself more with the Bible too.  
1. Pray Preemptively - If you have known yourself to struggle with SAD in the past, begin preemptively praying with hope that God will bring you through this season with a smile.  Pray about it now before times get tough.  Jesus prayed before tough times such as in Matthew 4 and Matthew 26. 

2. Plan time with People – Schedule time with people.  You likely had the last few weeks scheduled out with how you were going to spend your time and who you were going to spend it with.  Return to that system of planning time with people, especially if you are an extrovert.  Jesus spent time often with large groups and with a small group of his closest friends such as in Matthew 14 and Like 22.

3. Plan Physical Activity – Schedule in physical activity for the next few weeks.  You can find that in a temporary YMCA membership, or by doing some manual labor in serving your elderly friends and neighbors.  Go outdoors to trim their trees, change their landscaping, or chop wood.  Do work indoors by moving all the furniture for them and vacuuming underneath.  Whatever it is, plan it and be purposeful in it.  Jesus likely spent a lot of time walking and doing labor as a carpenter in Mark 6:33.

4. Purposeful & Proper Eating – You might have just gone through a time of upsetting your normal diet with a lot of sweets and junk food which can lead to energy loss and symptoms of depression.  There’s no time like right now to temporarily adopt a  Daniel diet or evaluate your food choices based on Philippians 3:18-19 to avoid being like those who will be destroyed because “their God is their belly.”  

These are just some of my proactive ways to beat SAD.  Please feel free to call me for encouragement if you begin feeling SAD this season.

*Special Note for Husbands*  If you find your wife suddenly being more down-in-the-dumps than usual without an apparent reason, don't worry.  First sit with her, listen to her, and love on her.  Don't automatically prescribe the "4 P's".   She'll appreciate it and you'll feel better too.  Then talk positively about how to work through this time.  

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