There will always be stress in life. And there’s a good statistical chance that you have run into bouts of depression (or will eventually). I know these two are different, but I typically try to respond with similar remedies when I begin to feel either one. In certain seasons or situations, I have to back up and realize that I can do something about it. It’s the stressful times that often knock us off our game in terms of routine, health and rest.
Here’s a simple list I keep in my phone. These are the things I make sure I’m doing when I feel stressed about a situation or am feeling worn out. And much like deposits in a bank, these habits and routines help us be prepared for tough seasons.
Read Scripture and Pray
Bill Hybels calls this “chair time.” Other people call it devotions. Still for others it’s quiet time. No matter how you describe it, there is a need for every believer to spend time daily reading God’s word and praying. As we read, pray, mediate, and/or journal, we grow in trust and in faith. You may think you’re the only one who has ever dealt with what you’re dealing with. Chances are, someone in the scriptures has too. As we pray, the burden lifts, our trust in God grows and our lives become more focused and centered on Jesus. Our souls are eternal, and as a result, we long to be connected to God. Don’t miss out on it now.
Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple…
Go To Bed On Time
Sleep is a gift from God. Too little sleep will cause us to be unfocused, edgy and lethargic. Don’t apologize for getting sleep or having a good routine. You don’t just sleep because you’re tired from the day; you sleep because you’re preparing for a great day tomorrow. Going to bed on time is a huge part of this. In fact, if you spend time trying to get something done after you’re tired, chances are it will take longer, you’ll have more mistakes, and you’ll have to finish in the morning anyway. A nightly routine can also help make sleep better. Teach your body to become tired as you go through the routine of quieting down before bed. There has been tons of research about this including some of these factors: no screen lighting just before (phones, tablets, etc), don’t drink lots of liquid after 7:00 pm, make a list of things you need to do in the morning, read or pray just before bed, etc.
Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid. When you rest, your sleep will be peaceful.
Take care what you put into your body. You are what you eat. Your brain needs good nutrition and plenty of water. Your body doesn’t needs lots of sugar, salt, fat, or caffeine. Those things cause mood swings and more sluggish thinking. Think about what will help energize your mind and your body. Make food choices that offer your body the most nutrition and the least amount of calories. There are some specific foods that help us think more clearly and sharply. Discover those and make them a priority.
1 Cor. 6:19 o you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own…
Walk / Exercise
I can tell a difference on the days I walk in the morning. If I take a brisk one or two mile walk in the morning, I have more energy and focus all day. I’m not huge on exercise, but I try to get enough to keep me thinking and energetic. In the winter, when I have to walk on the treadmill, I miss the fresh air that comes with walking outdoors, but it still gets the job done. If I miss a day of walking, I really notice. I also notice that on the days I walk, I tend to take things in stride more. There is a definite connection between exercise and mental strength.
Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Take Time Off
It may be difficult in a heavy or stressful season to just take a vacation, but there are ways to get time off. Schedule a small block of time to do something as simple as taking a walk. If you have a full schedule of travel, add in a few minutes to stop by and see something neat on the way or while you are there. If your life is totally full, try looking ahead for a firebreak in your calendar. Write down the next free day and make a plan to keep it free or to do something fun and relaxing. Just knowing the day is coming can be beneficial in your life now. Looking forward to a vacation or any block of disengagement can help you as you’re walking through life, especially a stressful time.
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Help Someone Out
You may not feel like it, but when we are kind to someone in some way, we are blessed. When we help someone out, we are able to take the focus off ourselves and it helps us put things in perspective. We don’t help only because of what it does for us, but it is amazing how a selfless act will cause our spirits to lift. Do something kind, volunteer, help someone, encourage someone. It doesn’t have to be big, but can be.
Proverbs 11:17 Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional and don’t pretend to know the answer. I also know there are some serious mental illnesses that are impossible to overcome without the aid of professional help. There’s nothing wrong with seeking counsel.