Wednesday, July 29, 2020

10 Ways To Boost Your Mood!

Dear Friends,

Last week I wrote about the organic disease of chronic depression, but all of us are suffering from some depression and sadness at the isolation and changes we are experiencing during this pandemic. Dr Lois Dobbs PHD, a Christian Clinical Psychologist, says that mild depression is a “normal and common response to the distressing events in our world right now and to not feel depressed and saddened is the abnormal response.” Based on material published by the American Association of Christian Counselors (I’ve been a member since 1999), here are ten suggestions on how you can boost your mood and not get stuck in feelings of depression:

Meditate on God. Reading the praise and thanksgiving Psalms can boost your degree of gratitude and remind you of God’s creation and love. It can also enable you to see that God created every emotion, and that we do not have to hide ours from Him; He always understands. Even five minutes with Him can set the tone of your day. Longer time reading, meditating and reflecting is even more helpful! Thank God for His strength, His power, His wisdom for your day. Remind yourself of His promise that He gives us “love, power, and a sound mind” and that the “spirit of fear” is from the enemy. Your future is in His Hands!

Listen to Music. Lyrical, gentle music, choral or instrumental, is especially helpful, such as hymns and praise and worship music. Gregorian Chant is very healing.

Pray. God inclines His ear and listens to your prayers. Psalm 116:1-2 ESV Tell Him what you’re struggling with and receive His peace. Philippians 4:6-7 And praying for others takes the focus off us and brings the power of God into their lives.

Start Your Day Right. I wake up and pray: “Open my lips Lord that my mouth shall proclaim forth Your praise.” (Psalm 51:15) I stand up, roll my shoulders to release the kinks, cross myself in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, thank God for my night’s rest and give Him glory for the new day. While I’m making the bed I’ll pray a short prayer such as, “Here I am Lord all devoted to Thee, make me according to the desires of Your Heart.” Get dressed, feed the cats and fill my Goofy mug with coffee. Your ritual will and should be different than mine, but having a healthy morning ritual that turns your heart and mind to God is perhaps one of the most important things you can do to positively impact your entire day.

Get Sunlight. Let the light in and get out in the light! Open your curtains and blinds and expose yourself to a maximum amount of light, immediately upon arising. Let your skin and your soul absorb the light of the sun. Sunlight helps your whole sense of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being and Vitamin D is essential to a healthy body. Get outdoors and do chores, play, garden, walk or just sit-a-spell.

Eat, Exercise, Sleep. People who experience depression often seek self-comfort in high-sugar, high-fat foods, numb their minds with hours in front of the television or computer and then have trouble sleeping after a day of slothful inactivity. But healthy foods, plenty of exercise and adequate sleep will be the three most helpful things we can do in maintaining our body’s immune system. A healthy immune system will allow our body to better resist illness and disease and help it to recover more quickly if we do get ill. During this time of the pandemic, it is more important then ever to take good care of your body.

Read Books. Along with our body we need to take good care of our mind. Reading books stimulates and exercises the brain – watching television and videos slows down our brain and lulls it into a semi-conscious state. A university study showed that reading increases activity in the brain’s central sulcus which controls our motor skills. Medical studies have shown that for those of us who are older, reading stimulates the mind which increases memory and can slow down Alzheimer’s and dementia. Reading also transports us from living in a pandemic to another world where we become engaged in the story and in the lives and personalities of the characters.

Be Nice. Do Nice Things. Dr Dobbs suggests that you, “Do something nice or helpful for someone else, even when you don’t feel like it. This changes your perspective! The very act of accomplishing something nice for someone else gives you a feeling of coping and lends a new perspective. Sometimes we receive back appreciation, a bonus which adds an extra level in boosting our mood. Keep helping even if you don’t get thanked!”

Connect with People. Social isolation is one of the major causes of depression. God created us to be in relationship with others and for those who live alone, it may be challenging to connect with others – particularly with the closing of our churches. In the mid-70's one of the most popular commercials of all times was the AT&T and Bell Systems “Reach out and touch someone.” If you’re my age, you may still remember the jingle! During these days of social distancing, we may not be able to literally touch someone but we do so metaphorically when we connect with them by phone or computer. Take the time to call, write, text, email and connect with family and friends and you’ll bring smiles to your face and theirs. We can even “keep in touch with someone” simply by looking at their picture. Our loved ones come alive in their image. Connecting with others gets you “out of yourself” by breaking the cycle of morose introspection which often accompanies depression. 

It’ll Get Better. Perhaps the most important thing for all of us to do is to constantly remind our self that life will not stay like this and we need to trust in God for patience during this time. Reminding ourselves of the promises of God is the age-old remedy when life gets us down and we find ourselves tumbling into the pit of despair. And even if we do, there’s no state of mind we have fallen into that is too far for God to reach: “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:1-2 NLT Can I get an AMEN to that?

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