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Thursday, November 24, 2016

10 WAYS TO WIN THE WINTER WARFARE (DEALING WITH DEPRESSION IN THE HOLIDAY SEASON)

Ps 74:17 Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: 
thou hast made summer and winter.

It's almost winter time! That's good for some and bad for others. Let me ask you this: How do you deal with winter? How do you deal with the winter holidays (Thanksgiving & Christmas)? While some are laughing and rejoicing are you secretly suffocating inside? Are you trying to find the silver lining, but having a hard time doing so? If so, you're not alone.

I can remember how funny winter time was in Florida. If the weather dropped down below 50 degrees folk got crazy. Many of them have NEVER seen snow! If it snows an 1/8 of an inch they render it a state of emergency. Why? They’re not prepared! Here in Kentucky, when the snow is a foot deep, we’re in parking lots doing donuts, in the back yard having snow ball fights, making snow cream, and doing penguin rolls. Not in Florida! They’re hiding out in the warmth of their houses. 

So why are so many Floridians afraid to drive on the roads when it snows? They aren’t prepared. They have very little salt, salt trucks, and snow plows. Preparation is really the difference between Florida and Kentucky. But hey! Let's be fair about it. They almost never get snow, so it would be prodigal of them to spend millions on something they don't need. Maybe.

Seasons change and very few people actually “like” winter-even here in Kentucky. Leaves are falling, things are dying, and there's an unhealthy amount of depression afflicting people. Why does this happen? Why is there such a war with depression during this time of year? Much of it is a lack of preparation of the mind.

Here are 10 practical reasons:

1. SAD: You may have what's called Seasonal Affective Disorder ... or SAD. (YES! THAT'S REALLY A THING!) The condition is marked by the onset of depression during the late fall and early winter months, when less natural sunlight is available. It's thought to occur when daily body rhythms become out-of-sync because of the reduced sunlight.

2. YOU’RE NOT MOVING AROUND ENOUGH: It's cold outside, so it's easy to curl up on the couch and do nothing. Exercise and motion helps you physically and mentally. 

3. YOU WORRY ABOUT MONEY DUE TO THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF CHRISTMAS: In American culture, Christmas is more accurately spelled X-mas because there's very little Christ in it. If Christmas is about Christ, if He's the reason for the season, try to refocus your family to celebrate His birth. If you're broke, use this year to teach your children some life principles. "Hey, we're broke this year. I'm really sorry. I wish we could have bought you more, but this is the way real life is. This has been a difficult year, but we're going to be OK. It's about Jesus and we're going to truly celebrate Him. We're going to spend more time together. We're going to play board games, listen to Christmas music, and watch some classic Christmas movies." 

Please, don't tell people you're not having Christmas when you can't buy your children a thousand dollars worth of presents. You're basically telling your children that Jesus has nothing to do with Christmas. We are motivated by Christian culture, not American culture.

4. OVERWHELMED WITH FAMILY OBLIGATIONS, OVER SCHEDULED: This can be a very busy time of year. Everyone wants you to help them do something. Family dinners pile up. You have friends and family pulling you all over the place and you're running out of time to do your own thing. You have to learn how to say, "NO". You only have so much time to give. Don't overwhelm yourself trying to be everything to everyone.

5. YOU’RE NOT EATING RIGHT: Trust me: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. Most of us eat like pigs all the time, but it gets worse this time of year. Our bodies weren't made to deal with the stuff we're eating. Please, do some research on this subject. Eating affects your moods! Eating healthy may not be as fun, but it will go a long way to helping you fight depression.  

6. FEELING LEFT OUT: You may not have a large family. Holidays may be a very lonely time for you. I understand. Please, instead of clinging to self-pity and seclusion (which will only worsen your loneliness), push yourself to go out and attend holiday gatherings. I’m sure there are lots you can choose from, such as those held by your close friends and family, your church, the community you live in, in school, or at work. Next, let your close friends know how you're feeling-they can't read your mind. They would love to have you drop by for a little while. You receive not because you ask not! You could also volunteer at a homeless shelter or food pantry. You'd be shocked how therapeutic giving to and blessing other people can be. 

7. NOSTALGIA OF THE PAST: Many of you have spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas with a family member that is now celebrating their holidays in heaven.  Perhaps you've gone through a divorce and you're now separated from your children. These scenarios are devastating. Nothing or no one can take the place of those people and the precious memories you created with them. Don't be afraid to talk about your deceased loved one to a friend. Cry if you need to. Do something special to remember them. They want you to be happy. Do your best to honor that desire. Regardless of what has separated your family unit, as hard as it will be, you should try to make new traditions.

8. LACK OF SLEEP: It is an absolute fact, a lack of sleep will turn your world upside down. It will affect you physically, mentally,  emotionally, spiritually. You need to take time to rest. Please, research the affects of sleep deprivation. 
  
9. YOU BECOME A HERMIT, COOPED UP ALL THE TIME: When it gets cold outside, some people stop leaving their houses. This is very unhealthy. You're looking at the same things, the same people, you're breathing the same air, getting no exercise, etc. This is often a side effect of depression and can be tied to many of the other points I've made here. Do yourself a favor ... GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!
   
10. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS (EVERY THING MUST BE PERFECT): Be realistic! Things never work out the way you wish they would. We all want things to be perfect, but they never are. When you expect perfection in everything, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Take a deep breath and chill. Things happen, but it's going to be alright.  
                                   
Your attitude will determine your altitude. If you can’t think right, you can’t be right.

Pr 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...


I have listed 10 practical things to look for, but the most important thing you can do during this holiday season is pray. Prayer not only changes things ... prayer changes you! God loves you and wants you to be happy. Let His life flow into your heart and have a merry Christmas this year!

Peace. Love. Hope.
David Lamb

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