Sometimes it’s a day. Sometimes it’s a season.
Most times you can’t really pin it to any one thing. Maybe you feel blue because circumstances have drained the happy right out of you.
Then again, maybe it’s hormones wreaking their little bit of havoc.
Even what starts as a good day can sometimes slide downhill until all you want is to carb load and binge watch your favorite Netflix (hello, When Calls the Heart).
The Bible calls it downcast and it’s an emotion that even some of the stoutest of faith dealt with.
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David often felt downcast and it’s reflected in many of the Psalms he penned.
Elijah, following an incredible mountain-top experience of God’s power, hit bottom as he hid from his oppressor.
Jeremiah, discouraged by isolation and constant opposition, felt so down that he cursed the day he was born.
While circumstances or hormones can trigger our blues, we don’t want to stay there. There are practical steps we can take to feel better and even prevent it. Here are 7 ways Christians can beat the blues.
1. Dive into the Word. Have you missed time in the Word for the day? Or maybe you’re skipping it consistently? I need to be in the Word every day. One day out and I begin to feel off. If I skip more than a day, I become vulnerable to emotions that tank.
This is always my first check because getting into the Word resets our thoughts and emotions. We can take our hurt, anxiety, fear and problems to God and exchange them for the truth of scripture. It’s a daily exchange that helps ward off an attack of the blues by the enemy.
2. Put on Praise Music. Remember what Paul and Silas did when they were thrown in prison? They sang! And many of the psalms were sung. Worship moves our attention from our circumstances to God. God inhabits our praise. It’s hard to stay down when we’re singing about the goodness of God and the hope we have in Him. Praise music reminds us of God’s promises and His character and helps us express and process our emotion.
3. Get outside. God’s creation is stunning. The fresh air and warm sun are natural mood boosters. The sounds of nature – birds calling back and forth or the rhythmic lull of waves at the beach – are soothing and can help lift our spirits. Getting outside can help us breathe deeper and destress from a difficult day.
4. Exercise. It’s easy when you’re feeling blue to want to bury yourself under the covers. But making ourselves get up and move is so important for turning our mood around. I learned a long time ago that exercise gives us endorphins – hormones that help us feel good. And exercise energizes us, which in turn helps us have an optimistic outlook.
5. Count your blessings. When we’re downcast, we can often over-amplify the problems and underemphasize our blessings. Keeping a daily gratitude list helps us see the good. Looking back over our list reminds us we have no reason to be discouraged because God is faithful. We begin to see God’s hand and look for it. Counting our blessings transforms what we see and how we perceive our days.
6. Random Acts of Kindness. Joy is contagious. And one of the best ways to proactively fill up on joy is to give it to someone else. We discovered this one Christmas, in a season of deep sadness, when we began to intentionally look for ways to bless someone else. Bringing a smile to someone else is one of the best ways to find your smile again. Nothing big or complicated needed; even simple acts of kindness go a long way to creating joy.
7. Take every thought captive. Feeling blue can often be triggered because we haven’t taken our thoughts captive to the truth of Christ. We’ve given into lies or lingered in regret rather than trusting God’s promises. Philippians 4:8 tells us to fill our minds with “what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. . . things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” We need to guard what we let our minds marinate in.
Bonus! My daughter says spending time with your dog (or cat) is a super mood booster. It’s hard to stay down when you’re being loved on by your dog who’s always friendly, fiercly loyal, enthusiastically playful and invariably excited to see you.
When we’re feeling blue, it’s important to remember — it won’t always feel like this. I’ve recited that to myself on particularly hard days. Thank Goodness we have new morning mercies and fresh daily starts.
We can say with the Psalmist —
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again–my Savior and my God!”
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