Practical Action Steps You Can Start Implementing Today
This week has been an eventful and emotional week for some. Especially in hearing about the two apparent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain within days of each other. This has sparked a conversation on social media about mental health and about depression and anxiety. This conversation has allowed many to open up about their depression and share their stories. This has also promoted conversations within friend groups and social circles to make sure everyone in the group is doing well emotionally and mentally. Often times we forget to check on our love ones and friends to make sure they are doing well, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. However, if you are struggling with serious or clinical depression I encourage you to reach out for help. I am not a trained therapist or psychologist, these are just practical steps you can implement to help you cope and overcome depression.
Here is the post I made the other day:
I talked about how great David was and all the wonder things King David did. Now I want to point out a few of the ways he coped and managed and overcame his depression.
Throughout the Psalms David talks of his anguish, loneliness, fear of the enemy who wanted to kill him and his shame and guilt from his sin. These all sound like things people struggle with today. He says things such as:
- I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. (Psalm 6:6 NLT)
- Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies? (Psalms 43:2 NLT)
- O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?” (Psalm 42:9 NLT)
- Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me (Psalms 42:3)
- Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. 2 Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. 3 I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. 4 Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal. (Psalm 69:1-4)
- My heart is breaking (Psalms 42:4 NLT)
- Their taunts break my bones. (Psalms 42:10 NLT)
- My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught (Psalms 55:22 NIV)
- We can’t escape the constant humiliation; shame is written across our faces. All we hear are the taunts of our mockers.All we see are our vengeful enemies. (Psalms 44:15-16 NLT)
Most of these phrases sound like similar things I have said or felt. What about you? Can you relate to any of the things he speaks of?
Now that we’ve looked at a few places where we can see that David is depressed, let’s look at the ways he copes and overcomes it.
How King David Coped and Managed Depression
- David was honest with himself about his emotions. He was also honest with God about all of his feelings, thoughts, fears, worries, concerns and emotions. He was not scared to tell God how he was really feeling. Don’t be afraid to tell God if you are mad, sad, angry or whatever emotions you are feeling. He is able to handle all of the emotions and thoughts you encounter.
David was not afraid to admit how he was feeling. Acknowledging your feelings opens up the door for you to talk to people about how you are feeling. Whether you are praying to God about it, talking with a friend or talking to a professional; no one can help until you are honest about your emotions. Remember, it’s okay to cry and feel emotions. We saw the David cried so much at times that his bed was flooded with tears.
Running from the pain will not help the healing process. Burying the pain deep down inside doesn’t work either. When you bury a seed and water it, the seed sprouts roots and starts to grow. When you bury your pain and water it with your tears the pain will sprout roots and will begin to grow. The more the pain grows the harder it is to uproot. Trying to hide from your feelings uses up a lot of energy. Instead of wasting extra energy, channel that energy into being mindful about why you are feeling the way you are.
Remember, just because you acknowledge your feelings doesn’t mean that you are accepting your feelings as truth. For example, if you are feeling unworthy, or unloved or that you always fail when you try new things, you are not accepting those feelings as facts. You are just being honest about what you are feeling in that moment. The more you accept your emotions the more you learn about yourself. I constantly had to tell myself don’t be too hard on yourself for having negative or depressive emotions, it’s okay to have bad days you just cannot stay in the head space for too long.
2.) David exercised gratitude.
I know it’s hard to think about all the things you are grateful for when you are feeling depressed. This is usually because all of your emotions are clouding your mind and it seems like things are never going to get better. But you can start by thinking of one small thing you are grateful for. Then that one small thing will make way for you to think about more reasons why you are grateful. When you start thinking of the many reasons you are grateful it shifts your thinking off of your current situation. Exercising gratefulness shifts your thinking. When you are depressed it usually starts in the mind, so if you can shift your thinking it will help you overcome your negative thoughts in that moment.
Action Step: Take out a sheet of paper and write down 5 things you are grateful for. As you continue to do this go up to 10, 15, 20 and then keep going to see how many you can write down. Then, on the days you are having a bad, day pull out that sheet of paper to help you remember all the reasons you have to be grateful.
Gratefulness shifts your manner of thinking from feeling sorry for yourself to self appreciation. Gratefulness builds mental toughness because it forces you to shift your thinking to positive things in the midst of hard situations.
3.) David wrote some of the Psalms, so we will contribute to journaling.
When you journal your thoughts and emotions it helps you gain a better understanding of them. As you continue to journal your thoughts and emotions, look for patterns of when you feel specific emotions. Include the date and time when you feel various emotions. Write down what you were doing, what you were watching, who you were talking to and what you did earlier that day. Asking yourself these questions helps you figure out what your triggers are and what the root of the problem is. If you are in the midst of an emotional moment you may not be able to muster up enough energy to ask yourself all these questions. But once you come out of that emotional funk go back and have a debrief of why you were feeling the way you were feeling.
Once you understand the pattern and root causes of your emotional moments you will be able to devise of plan of what you’ll do the next time you are feeling depressed. I wrote a blog last year on how to develop a strategy to fight fear. Click here to read and find how to develop your strategy.
4.) David spoke affirmations and truth over his life. He also sang about God’s love and his promises.
Below are a list of scriptures he spoke over his life and affirmations I’ve compiled from scripture.
- He renews my strength (Psalms 23:3 NLT)
- His love is unfailing (Psalms 36:5 NLT)
- I am confident and fearless and can face my foes triumphantly (Psalms 112:8 NLT)
- He hides me and keep me safe from trouble (Psalm 27:5 NIV)
- He is close to me when I am broken hearted (Psalms 34:18 NLT)
- Each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. Psalms (42:8 NLT)
David speaks of the goodness of God and declares truth over his life. Speak positive and truthful affirmations out loud. You have to stop listening to your emotions and start speaking truth to yourself. Speak truth to your emotions. Remember that your emotions are not facts, they are just feelings. I know your emotions may be clouding your mind to the point where you don’t believe what you are saying, but the more you speak it out loud or write it the more you will believe it and the more it will get into your heart and mind.
In elementary school when you were learning spelling words the teacher would give homework which entailed you writing the spelling words about five times each and using them in sentences. The teacher wasn’t just giving this homework just because. The teacher knew that the more you wrote the word down, the more the spelling of the word would get into your mind because of the repetition. Then after the repetition portion you had to use your spelling word in multiple sentences. Writing those words in sentences helped you to practice and apply those words in real sentences and conversation.
Overcoming any struggle is more than just gaining knowledge on how to defeat it. You have to apply and practice the skills you learned. As you learned new words as a kid you began using those words in your everyday conversation. As you learn about your depression and learn about coping and overcoming it you have to apply those practical skills in your life.
If there are bad days where it feels like you cannot speak life over yourself, record yourself speaking affirmations on a day when you are feeling great. Then you will have that recording for the days when it feels like you cannot get out of your depression. Coping and overcoming depression is all about planning ahead and mapping out a plan so when depression strikes you don’t have to think about how you are going to get out of it; you just reach for the tools you have developed in your strategy.
In order to help purge the negative you have to pour in the positive. Have something on standby that will help pour positivity and truth into your mind. Take little steps each day to purge out a little bit of the negative.
5.) David remembered.
David remembered his identity. He remembered how the Lord brought him out of trouble countless other times. He also remembered that he overcame trouble in the past.
Even though David was distressed and in some despair he remembered to call on the Lord.
- In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; (Psalms 18:6)
David remembered where his inner strength came from.
- 32 It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect. 33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places. (Psalms 18:32-33)
In a lot of the Psalms David starts out by talking about how distraught he is and how much pain and fear he has. As the verse goes on he begins to remember his identity and he starts encouraging himself. He starts to remember how great God is.
Psalms 13 is an example where David starts out with distraught emotions but then remembers the Lord still loves him and remember that God has rescued him before.
When your thoughts start to spiral out of control start to remember all the reasons why your thoughts are false. You have to remember that you are loved and not alone. If you have trouble remember all of the wonderful things about yourself, that is when you pull out your affirmations or call a friend to remind you of how strong you are.
Read through Psalms and find occurrences where David was depressed. Then find occurences in Psalms where David practices gratitude and thankfulness. Find places where he is speaking truth and affirmation over his life. Highlight those verses write them on note cards and place them on your mirror or in places where you can easily see them as a reminder when you are having a depressed day. Then, go back and search through the Psalms to find places where David starts out as being depressed but remembers how he overcame his enemy in the past and remembers that the Lord is his strength and the source of all comfort and the one who hides him.
Power Tip #1
On days when I am feeling depressed and I cannot muster up the strength to even read my bible or pray I pull out my phone and go to the bible app and play the Psalms out loud. As I am going throughout my day those affirmations and God’s truth is being spoken over my mind and taking root in my heart.
Power Tip #2
Listen to testimonies and stories of others who are going through the same thing as you by Googling and YouTubing videos of others. Listen to how they overcame it and what they did during the process of their struggles. It gives you strength and hope when you listen to others who have defeated and conquered the same thing you are facing. Remember, you and only you are in charge of your own emotions and you have the power to change your emotions.
I recently did a short video about not letting your emotions stop your productivity. You can view it here. And in my newest ebook, Year of the Game Changer, A Self-Discovery Guide To Unlocking your inner greatness I give practical tips to unlocking your greatness and not letting your emotions get in the way. I also share a little bit of I faced depression and anxiety and how it affected me. As a special added bonus in the book, I offer worksheets and self discovery questions to help you get to the root cause of your specific emotions and how to manage them. You can download this ebook for free by clicking here.