“I’m really down right now.”
“I’m feeling kind of depressed and hopeless.”
These are statements I recently saw on social media lately. To some degree or another, there seem to be an unusually high number of people fighting feelings of depression, or at least “the blues” this Christmas.
While I’m not a licensed counselor or expert in pastoral advice, I have picked up on a few pieces of advice that may help (or at least won’t hurt), if you or someone you know is feeling blue.
Take a break from social media & cable news
If you find yourself in a state of confusion, resentment or depression, social media is not a great place to emerge from those. The year 2020 has been so marked by discouraging news and disagreement, and social media and cable news have managed to daily highlight those developments. If you are feeling blue, it’s okay to take a break from social media and the news for a season. If this is a persistent problem, you might want to consider abandoning social media altogether for a longer period of time.
Go to church (in person or online)
Scott Barkley of Baptist Press recently shared, “A recent Gallup study reveals a connection between regular church attendance and a positive self-evaluation of one’s mental health.” The article, which can be found here, reveals that people are craving the type of fellowship you get at church. If you are unable to attend in person due to COVID reasons, stay connected online and try to see Christian fellowship that’s encouraging where you can.
Dive into the Scriptures
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.” Those words were said by Corrie Ten Boom, who survived the horrors of living in a Nazi concentration camp and who was no stranger to seeing hopelessness all around her. One of the sources of joy for Corrie and other Christian believers who were imprisoned during WWII was a smuggled Bible in their quarters. This COVID season, be like Corrie and look to the Bible for joy. Find a daily Scripture reading in the Psalms, for example, and see how God encourages you.
There are other simple ideas in addition to these that you could try. You could talk to a trusted friend, take a walk, or serve someone in need. You could simply seek to find comfort for yourself by being a comforter to others.
This holiday season, if you’re having a “Blue Christmas,” know that you’re not alone. The Bible refers to Jesus Christ as “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (Matt. 1). As one pastor I know points out, this Scriptural truth of “God with us” means the Lord is here, not far away. And God is for you, not against you.
Resting in that promise can help chase the blues away, this Christmas and beyond. God be with you…