Sometimes I lay in bed at night thinking about how to solve the world’s problems, haha. Or at least the problems of myself and those I love. And sometimes I think of things that I should post about and then think to myself, “I should write that down”. But I don’t, and then in the morning I forget what it was I was thinking about. You’d think I’d learn by now that I need to keep a notebook by the side of my bed.
Anyway, that was a long introduction into something that has been on my mind the last few weeks. As I have many friends and loved ones, and of course myself, that struggle with mental illness, I was trying to think of things I could do to help. I started recalling the things that I have written about in the past and actions that we can take that will help lift the “winter blahs”. For some who more seriously suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), it is not an easy feat. And may require medication to assist in helping us.
With the time change, darker, earlier nights and seemingly shorter days, comes sadness and despair. How can we fight these battles? First of all, I feel like we have to acknowledge that this is not something that comes from the Lord.
The Lord is light and love and goodness. John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
The adversary promotes sadness, darkness and despair. But even knowing that does not make it easy to overcome.
I found a couple of really great talks that gave me a lot of comfort as I myself have struggled a bit with the darkening days and times that we live in. I love this quote that comes from a talk given by Elder Robert D. Hales in the April 2002 conference. He said:
“Light dispels darkness. When light is present, darkness is vanquished and must depart. More importantly, darkness cannot conquer light unless the light is diminished or departs. When the spiritual light of the Holy Ghost is present, the darkness of Satan departs…..
…we are engaged in a battle between the forces of light and darkness. If it were not for the Light of Jesus Christ and His gospel, we would be doomed to the destruction of darkness. But the Savior said, “I am come a light into the world.” “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”The Lord is our light and, literally, our salvation. Like the sacred fire that encircled the children in 3 Nephi, His light will form a protective shield between you and the darkness of the adversary as you live worthy of it. You need that light. We need that light.”
I love that so much! I depend on the Savior every single day to bring and keep light in my life. And I need that “protective shield “ every single day that elder Hales mentioned.
However, I do believe that there are specific things that we can do to help us lift our spirits from the darkness into the light.
Here are 5 actionable items that I want to share. (In no particular order)
Listen to some Good Uplifting Music. This is probably one of the easiest and most readily available things to do (since most people own a smartphone these days). Music has an ability to lift our spirits that is unlike anything else. A few of the benefits of good music include:
- It’s heart healthy. Research has shown that blood flows more easily when music is played. …
- It elevates mood. …
- It reduces stress. …
- It relieves symptoms of depression. …
- It stimulates memories. …
- It manages pain. …
- It eases pain. …
- It helps people eat less. (https://www.northshore.org/healthy-you/9-health-benefits-of-music/)
I think that sums it up. Turning on music will stimulate the light to return.
Move Your Body One of the hardest things to do when you are down and depressed is get yourself to workout. Most of the time, you may barely be able to get yourself out of bed and into the shower. But research has shown that working out regularly has benefits that can’t be disputed, when it comes to emotional health and well being. While it may be hard and you don’t think you have a choice, the truth is that you do. You always have a choice. And when your mental health depends on it, aren’t you worth it?
Call a Friend or Support Person It is so important to have a good support system in place when you get into a slump. But it’s not always easy to open up to someone, especially loved ones, about the way you are feeling. But it is essential to release the sadness and despair that you have been carrying and let someone help shoulder it with you. Even if all you can do is cry it out, don’t hesitate to do that. It is a good release and sometimes helps just to let it all out. Get out a journal and write down what you are feeling. And if you truly have no one and you are feeling like you are at the end of your rope, please call the national hotline 988, there will always be someone that can help you. And remember, God is always just a prayer away, let Him in.
Get Up With the Sun I know in the winter months this is not always possible because the sun is sometimes not out. But getting up when the sun rises will really help elevate your mood and give you more hours in the day to complete the hard tasks like working out. Unfortunately, in these winter months the days can be dark and dreary. So if that’s the case I recommend getting a UV therapy light that you can set up while you journal in the morning. Or if you don’t journal, and you can’t get yourself out of bed, try setting it near your face on a diagonal (not directly into your eyes), for about 15 minutes per day. I have linked a good one above.
Next, Try to stay away from sugary processed foods. And, if you can, try to cut down or cut out caffeine. Disclaimer, this is what I have found that works for me. I am not a Dr. so definitely consult your physician on the best diet for you and your body type. But the benefits of cutting down on sugar surely outweigh eating a lot of processed and sugary foods. A few of these benefits are:
- Aids in heart health. It can reduce your risk of heart disease
- Lowers the risk of depression
- Helps skin and hair look better and
- Can help you maintain a healthy weight
I have personally found that cutting back on carbohydrates and cutting out sugary foods and drinks does wonders for my mental state. I’m not always good at it, but I know when I am, I feel so much better.
While there are many more things that you can and should do to lift your blues, these are just a few that I think can be done relatively easily, if you really want that light back in your life. Of course, prayer is essential and leaning on and trusting in the Savior are of utmost importance. But I just wanted to give you some actionable things that you can do besides having faith. Although, let’s be honest, faith is an action word! You have to exercise to see it work in your life.
Have a blessed week and a great holiday season my friends and I’ll talk to you again soon.