Monday, January 10, 2011

Seasonal Depression

Hope you are all enjoying a good dose of winter wherever you are...even those of you who haven't seen snowy weather!

I wanted to delve into another aspect of depression - even though I have previously written "the depression article" and I know you have heard me talk about it before. For those of us who have a melancholy side, and for anyone, really, it is good to take stock of how you're "doing." Starting a new year can get the adrenaline pumping and get you motivated to make some changes in your life. That's a good thing! But for some, you may find yourself in a puddle at the end of the day, unable to take another step. You feel overwhelmed, sad, grouchy and sleepy. If you feel this way on a regular basis, you might be under the effects of "seasonal depression." Seasonal depression, simply put, is just that your emotions are being affected by the cold and darkness of the season and/or weather you are experiencing.

Now, I'm no psychologist, so don't go quoting me to your medical and counseling professionals. But, I do know that I struggle EVERY year when Daylight Savings Time ends and the days start getting shorter. That old familiar darkness that used to be on me seems to come looking for its old home again. And, then, bring on a string of cold, wintery days and I could potentially be found in the fetal position in my room with the door closed.

Why am I bringing this up? I just have a sense that some of you are struggling and you don't know why. And you need some encouragement. And some options.

So, here we go.

First of all, if you think you have this seasonal depression thing, don't panic. God actually made our bodies to respond to external stimuli! You would be weird if you acted the same way in the winter as you do in the summer. For real. (unless you live in one of those tropical places...always with the loopholes)

Next, there are so many things that you can do to help yourself get out of the funk! Beating seasonal depression is really about managing yourself. (You'd better check yourself before you wreck yourself.) God made you with high intelligence to be able to steward your entire being - spirit, soul and body. Your responses are completely up to you. If you want to feel better, start doing things that make you feel better:

-Get the kids in bed 30 minutes early and take a long bubble bath.
-Put your favorite music on your iPod or mp3 player and keep it with the earphones in your pocket at all times. Pop those babies in and be transported.
-Schedule a date night with your man.
-Have some friends over for coffee and dessert.
-Choose a fun family activity with your children.
-Go check out new books at the library and declare a certain hour of the day to be your personal reading hour.
-Put good things into your body - like fruit and veggies. Quit it with the junk and you'll feel better in a few days.
-Take your vitamins! (preaching to myself, here)
-Dedicate time to hear from God. Read the Bible and listen for His voice. Let His Spirit breathe life into your spirit.
-Listen to an audio recording of the Bible while you're doing stuff around the house.
-Turn on the lights. Literally. Quit sitting in a dark house.
-Get yourself into the sunshine if you see any peeking through the wall of winter clouds.
-Limit your time with people who are "downers." Negativity breeds, whether you want it to or not.
-Light a yummy-smelling candle.
-Snuggle with your husband.
-Laugh! Find a movie or book that you find hilarious and keep it around.
-Think about good things. If you have trouble with that, make some lists (of good things!) and post them around your house and in your car.
-Invest yourself in a worthy cause - serving in your church, helping a friend in need, volunteering at a shelter, tutoring a student, grocery shopping for someone who can't get out...

This list is all a jumble of things that correlate to the three parts of you - body, soul and spirit. You can't just tweak things in one part and expect the rest to work itself out. Be a good steward of YOU by taking care of your whole self. I know that as a mom you are very outwardly focused and there are many demands on you. Believe you me, I know. But it is imperative that you deal with your kids and home/responsibilities from a place of life and fullness. If you're always running on empty, pretty soon the whole system will just crash. I call that "an episode." And it's not pretty. By taking some steps to get yourself back on track, you will be able to see your life with clarity and operate in peace.

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what's going on inside you. He can help pinpoint where things are going wrong, and He can help move you in the direction you need to go. Ask Him to help you find a couple of things from this list that will start making a difference in how you feel. He's the best Counselor EVER, by the way.

The good news: seasonal depression is not a sentence to be served. It's just a bothersome condition that can be remedied. I pray that the Great Physician will reveal your diagnosis deep into your spirit. You are His daughter and you are made perfect by His redeeming work in your life. You and He are a great team and there's nothing that will come against you that you cannot decimate together.

Seasonal depression, BEGONE!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Mom's Top 10 Ways To Start a New Year

10. Clean out your undies drawer. I mean, who needs last year's Hanes Her Way styles anyway?

9. Collect all of last year's magazines lying around your house and take them to the recycle bin. Wait, I need that one and that one...okay, those can go...oooh, look what she's wearing! Mmmm...I should make this for dinner tonight. Why am I in the garage again?

8. Call HazMat. (see #7)

7. Vacuum every nook and cranny of your home. I'll get you, you vile filth! No more dead skin cells collecting in THIS house, you hear? Oh, look, baby - I found your lost sippy cup of milk...that is now a hazmat situation...

6. Go through kids' closets and drawers to clear out all the clothes that no longer fit them. Sort into piles of "save", "sell" and "donate". Add up in your mind how much money you could make from consignment versus garage sale. Add up in your mind how much you spent for all those clothes in the first place. Put them back in the drawers. They can wear those a little longer.

5. Choose a diet/exercise regimen that will work for you in this phase of your life. Being very realistic, check into zumba classes, weight watchers and possibly just finding friends who don't care if you get fatter this year.

4. Carefully repack all the Christmas decorations and tree ornaments that you so tediously displayed last month. Except for the baby Jesus from nativity #3, which has suddenly gone missing. Along with a sheep and a nutcracker.

3. Rearrange the furniture. New year, new look! Be sure to vacuum under there. Oh. My. Word. Honey, I just found a memory card, $20 and your driver's license!

2. Do a happy dance for the family routines coming back online! School, naps, regular eating, everyone sleeping in their own beds again, predictability. Budget, schedule, responsibilities... SCHOOL, NAPS, REGULAR EATING, EVERYONE SLEEPING IN THEIR OWN BEDS AGAIN... (gotta focus on the positives)

1. Take stock of the goals you accomplished last year. Write out your goals for your family and for yourself for this new year. Make a spreadsheet of steps to help you get there month-by-month. Or just take a power nap before the baby wakes up.

But, in all prayer for each one of you reading this ridiculous list is that you will know the presence of the Lord much stronger in your life this year than ever before. I pray that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened to know how immensely vast your Father's love is for you. I pray that the Holy Spirit will be your shield and your rear guard and will guide you into all Truth. I pray that you will see yourself for who you truly are - the way your Father sees you - the glorious, powerful, influential you. I pray for divine wisdom to rest on you as you nurture your family and train your children. I pray for a fresh anointing over your life to rise up into all you are created and called to be. I pray victory in your life and in your home in the name of Jesus!

Make this year the one where you get to know your amazing God better than ever before. He is waiting to dance with you!

Blessings for 2011!