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 seemingly drained the joy right out of you. 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. 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. (1 Kings Chapter 19) Jeremiah, discouraged by isolation and constant opposition, felt so down that he cursed the day he was born. (Jeremiah 20:14)
While circumstances or hormones can trigger our blues, we don’t want to stay there. Here are practical steps we can take to feel better and even prevent it:
1. Dive Into the Word. Have you missed time in the Word for the day? Or maybe you’re skipping it consistently. Absence from God’s Word subjects us to increased vulnerability to emotions that tank. Studying Scripture gives us a change in perspective, specifically Psalm 55:22; 91, Romans 8:38-39. This weapon to fight the blues is, perhaps, our strongest. Yes, God ministers to our hearts through His creation, the friends He has brought our way, and the service we do for others, but there’s something about God’s Word that is especially powerful and therapeutic.
“The word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
Through Scripture, we discover the heart of God. We encounter His love, grace, and care. Perspective changes for the better as we soak in His Word and gain His perspective on the world and on life. If you’re not in the habit of reading Scripture, start. Make it a habit—a daily habit. And in those moments when you feel down, read out loud the psalms. God’s grace-filled perspective seeps in as you see it, speak it, and hear it.
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.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Col. 3:16)
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. Surrounding ourselves with God’s creation is a good thing. The beauty of God’s creation draws us to awe, wonder, and worship.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands” (Ps. 19:1)
4. 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.
“Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 1 Thess. 5:16-18
5. 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. Intentionally looking 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. I had a pastor friend who used service to others as his go-to therapy. Helping someone else—meeting a need—took their minds off their own need.
“In every way I’ve shown you that it is necessary to help the weak by laboring like this and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, because he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ ” (Acts 20:35).
“Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
6. 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.
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!”(Psalm 42:5)
Sources: Appelo, Lisa. (n.d.). 7 Ways Christians Can Beat the Blues. Retrieved from https://lisaappelo.com/7-ways-christians-can-beat-the-blues
Pryor, Lynn. (2020, December 28). How to Fight the Blues. Retrieved from https://lynnhpryor.com/2020/12/28/how-to-fight-the-blues/