Here are five Scripture passages that may be helpful if you’re dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
For to the snow he says, ‘Fall to earth,’ and to the torrential rains, ‘Pour down.’ He causes everyone to stop working so that all people may know his work. The wild animals go to their lairs, and in their dens, they remain. A tempest blows out from its chamber, icy cold from the driving winds. The breath of God produces ice, and the breadth of the waters freeze solid. – Job 37:6-10
In a world run by clocks and calendars, the pressure to constantly work has become more normal. But all human beings need a season of rest. If you are not a farmer, then taking a season of rest during the winter may seem unrealistic. You may find yourself struggling with depression in a way that just doesn’t happen the rest of the year.
When the winter blues seem to be getting the best of you, you will need to be more creative about finding the time to rest. The passage above says, “He causes everyone to stop working, so that all people may know his work.”
You may not have the financial means to stop working altogether, but there are other ways of practicing rest. This will take being intentional on your part. You also need to understand what gives you comfort and rest. It may not be about getting more sleep. It could be planning to meet with friends, having a project outside of work to complete, or simply having an alarm that starts the morning coffee for you. The cold and the darkness don’t have to overcome you.
A helpful practice for those struggling with depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder is to practice gratitude. What are you grateful for in the winter? Blankets? A good heating system? Maybe a treat such as hot cocoa with marshmallows. Do you enjoy candlelight and wood-burning fires? Perhaps you have a sweater collection that brings you joy.
This would be a suitable time to think about the ways that God has shown Himself good to you in the past seasons. In times of darkness, you can remember the light. Did God provide a fun summer for you? Don’t mourn that time; remember it with joy and anticipate its return. Spending time reflecting on the ways you have seen God be good in the past is an excellent practice to combat depression.
While the earth continues to exist, planting time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease. – Genesis 8:22
Sometimes winter is hard because you don’t have an idea when it will end. You know it is temporary, but there is no fixed expiration date. In a world dictated by calendars, your depression can make you feel like you are not meeting expectations. Feeling helpless about when it will end could make your depression worse.
Learn how to hold fast the promise of seasons ebbing and flowing. Watch the sunrises and sunsets to remind you that the days are moving along. Make plans for spring and winter. God has given beauty to each season. Find the things that make even the barren parts of winter beautiful. Even trees stripped of their leaves give praise to the glory of God.
The rain and snow fall from the sky and do not return, but instead water the earth and make it produce and yield crops, and provide seed for the planter and food for those who must eat. – Isaiah 55:10
Just as winter is necessary for food to grow, rest is necessary for the Christian to grow as well. You cannot always be running around doing things. There needs to be time for rest and stillness. Animals take the time to rest. Plants take time to rest. Human beings also need rest. This could be a good time to get a massage, find comforting books to read, or a hobby to indulge in. Save a good show to watch, plan a game night, do home spa activities.
This time to build your faith will look much different from the height of summer busyness. This could be the time you learn to pray for people, to listen to music that lifts your soul. You do not always have to be engaged in outreach to have a fruitful life in Christ. Find a few trusted companions to tell about the struggle with depression and ask them to help you cope with it by checking in on you and meeting for fun fellowship.
I have concluded that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to enjoy themselves as long as they live, and also that everyone should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all his toil, for these things are a gift from God. – Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
If you are familiar with the book of Ecclesiastes, you will have heard the passage about how there is a time for everything. This passage comes right after it. After acknowledging the times and seasons you can be encouraged to find joy in your work and life. The practices of gratitude, learning to rest, finding beauty in winter, all of these are ways to find joy even amid depression.
Gather with your people. Plan coffee dates and movie outings and book clubs. Create beautiful things that give you joy. The clouds may cause you to feel gloomy, but you can create sunshine within the walls of your home. Buy a light that mimics the sun’s rays to get a dose of vitamin D. Take vitamin D, or better yet have citrus to brighten your day.
If gathering with people helps, plan a game night with snacks. If being alone helps, plan time to be by yourself. Sometimes seasonal depression means you simply need to get out of the house. Bundle up and take a walk, letting the fresh air fill your lungs. Sign up for a yoga class or join a gym that has a pool. Moving your body around can boost your mood and having someplace to go can motivate you to get out of the house.
You set up all the boundaries of the earth; you created the cycle of summer and winter. – Psalm 74:17
God is faithful to His people. Summer and winter are proof of God’s goodness and faithfulness. You don’t have to like them equally, but they are both a part of the plan that God has for all humankind. Growing and resting are both from Him.
If you struggle with seasonal depression God is doing a good thing for you. It is your body’s way of telling you to slow down – a call to be still and know that he is God. Stillness is an important gift and so is retreat. Jesus regularly retreated from the crowds and his own disciples to be still. Your faith grows more than you think in such times. Being a good Christian is not about showing up to church every time the doors are open. It is about building your relationship with Him.
Amid Seasonal Affective Disorder, you can learn to trust God and see the good gifts that He has put in your life. Darkness and cold can enhance your gratitude for the goodness of God.
A Short List of Ideas
- Move your body
- Have a hot beverage you love, daily
- Plan to get together with friends
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Keep a prayer journal
- Make your favorite foods
- Get Vitamin D
- Home spa: bath with Epsom salts, candles, music
- Savor the beauty of frost and snowflakes
- Pick up a book
- Have a game night with the family
Christian Counseling for Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you think you’re struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, we would be happy to help. Feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment with me or one of the other counselors listed in the counselor directory.
“Hot Coffee”, Courtesy of Alex Padurariu, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Winter Forest”, Courtesy of Christian Grab, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Intellectual Dog”, Courtesy of Jamie Street, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Blank Journal”, Courtesy of Jan Kahanek, Unsplash.com, CC0 License