I'm Sad – Winter Blues

February 5, 2024

I am glad we are on the start up the hill to longer days and more sunshine. But spring is still a way off, and that is exceptionally hard truth for some of us. When the days get shorter and the temperature drops, it’s not uncommon to wrestle with the winter blues.

The reasons are very understandable. The shorter days mean less natural light, and that can mess with our mood-regulating neurotransmitters. The changing seasons can throw our internal clocks out of whack. Less daylight can disrupt our internal rhythm, leading to feelings of fatigue and sadness. And then, while it is “the most wonderful time of the year,” the holiday season can also bring stress and expectations. Balancing work and ministry demands with home, personal, and festive obligations can stretch us thin and lead to the blues. It can cast a shadow over our families, friends, and co-workers. It takes an emotional toll on us, We are more susceptible to hopelessness and frustration. Our energy is low and we may feel like isolating, which generally adds to feelings of hopelessness and depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing – SAD. Symptoms of SAD typically begin to appear in autumn or early winter, and start to improve with the onset of spring. These symptoms include …

  • Persistent low mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair or worthlessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Crying excessively
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Reduced sex-drive
  • Less sociable, with the desire to be alone
  • Oversleeping or feeling tired all the time
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Craving carb-rich foods
  • Weight gain

These symptoms will of course vary from person to person, as any circumstance is unique to the individual.

Gratitude is an effective antidote to the “winter blues.” God helps us as we work with Him. In Philippians 4, we are encouraged to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present requests to God.” Ask God to help you, and ask with a decision to be grateful.

I scoured the web to find some suggestions that could help us as followers of Jesus to combat this problem.

Here are some tips for fighting seasonal depression as a Christian:

Get outside: It is amazing what some fresh air and sunlight will do to lift the spirits. We are blessed to live in a location where the winters are not terribly harsh. Bundle up and get out when you can, and you will find that it takes the edge off the winter doldrums.

Get some exercise, take care of your body: Go to the gym, walk in your neighborhood, use your exercise equipment at home. Consider picking up a winder sport. Working the muscles and increasing your respiration and heartbeat are all beneficial to your mental health. If you need a haircut, get one. If you need a doctor’s appointment, go. Check on taking a Vitamin D supplement.

Eat healthy and drink lots of water: If you are like me, you have eaten way too much over the holidays … but it sure was good! Now that we are through the holidays, refocusing on healthy diets and drinking lots of water can bring with it the benefits of feeling better physically and emotionally.

Stay busy: You know the old saying,” An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Our minds can become a breeding ground for negative thinking and depression. Find something productive to do to occupy your time. Read a good book, work in the yard, pick up a hobby …

Pray and study God’s Word: It is very difficult to remain sad when we are daily casting our cares on the Lord and filling our mind with the positivity from God’s Word. Maintaining a regular time of devotions, Bible reading, and prayer can elevate our mood any time.

Stay connected to God’s people: Don’t let yourself get trapped at home, that is unless you are truly a shut-in. Get out to the grocery store, post office, civic club, etc. Enjoy outings with friends. Also, and most importantly, stay in church. Fellowshipping with God’s people will lift our spirits when we are going through a “down season.”

Minister to the needs of others: Find someone who is hurting and do something to help them. You will find your mood lifted as a result of reaching beyond yourself to touch another with the love and compassion of Christ. Serve someone, somewhere.

Limit social media and TV time: Too much negative and critical input will take you under. Research documents our national lowered mental health to our social-media use.

Double down on things that bring you joy: Make sure you are making time and even extra time for the things that bring you joy. That’s investing, not wasting, your time. Maybe pick up a new hobby.

Read some good books: A good book can transport you to another time and another place, give you hope, and help you experience a new dimension of life.

Make sure to open the blinds and curtains: Let the light in as much and as early as you can. Light will help you more than you imagine.

Journaling and Scripture writing: You don’t have to be eloquent. A paragraph or bullet point about what you are experiencing and learning will help you.

Make time with God a daily priority: You might even do a Bible reading plan on mental health. The YouVersion online Bible has numerous ones that are free.

If you are struggling, talk to someone about your feelings: Whether it is friends or family members or a professional, sometimes just getting things off of your chest can make a world of difference.

Winter will be over before long. But don’t let it stall your growth! Take charge!