Thursday, November 16, 2017

Twelve Strategies for Alleviating Depression

Sometimes, depression can seem like an impossible mountain to overcome. You may feel totally defeated in your ongoing battle with it. But, please take heart, because there are several effective ways to alleviate depression. Here are 12 practical suggestions for you to consider.

1. Recognize the signs. Pay close attention to clues indicating that depression may be present in your life. If interaction with people is increasingly distressful, and if you find your self constantly withdrawing, you may be depressed. If you're unable to control your appetite, misusing alcohol, or overeating, depression may be lurking nearby.

If you're experiencing many aches and pains for which there is no real physical basis, this may signal an emotional problem. If you've lost interest in activities, which used to bring pleasure, such as hobbies, and there is also lowered libido, depression may be present. If you struggle with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and if death seems to offer a way out, you're likely depressed.

2. Re-analyze the feelings. Once you identify your depression, attempt to analyze the specific feelings associated with it. Why do you have these feelings? What triggers them? When are they triggered? Are they proportionate to the event which triggers them? Remember, some depressions result from loss. If this can be identified, allow your self to experience the sadness about the loss without feeling guilty about the emotion. 

3. Remember God’s promises. Sharing our struggles with God helps to lift despair. The psalmists found that verbalizing their grief, anger, and depression led to renewed hope for them. In a similar way, as you open your heart to God and verbalize your anger and depression, you will begin to gain a new perspective on your self, as well as an awareness of being accepted by God in spite of experiencing anger and negative feelings.

4. Rest, Re-create, & Replenish. Establish the Sabbath principle in your life. Take regular breaks from your work and other responsibilities. Engage in intentional replenishment weekly or monthly, confide in your spouse (if you're married) and seek spiritual direction from a trusted minister.

5. Refocus (Re-prioritize). Learn to set limits. Clearly define the parameters of what you will expect of your self and what you will allow others to expect of you. The scriptures give an instructive example of how church leaders unashamedly set limits on what they would allow others to expect of them when the apostles delegated some responsibility to others (Acts 6). 

6. Realistic Expectations. Establish healthy boundaries and set realistic expectations for your family, work, and church life. Even Jesus did not heal everyone, though it was within His power to do so. 

7. Regular Exercise and healthy, well-balanced diet. Physical exercise is extremely important in maintaining a mental-physical balance and good emotional health. The types of food you consume will definitely affect the way you feel emotionally.

8. Reconnect. Make a place in their life for personal friendships. By growing and testing perspectives with a close friend, you will gain internal strength to keep on going.

9. Reach Out for help. It's helpful to receive feedback from supportive others to gain perspective. If you've taken the time to develop a meaningful relationship with another person, it will be easier to share. But seek professional help if necessary. 

10. Rhythms. An awareness of your own biological rhythms can help you manage your depression. For instance, some are early risers, some work late at night. These and other patterns can be modified to some extent, but those who accept their own rhythms and work within those confines are the most effective and efficient.

11. Remain involved in life. Resist the tendency to withdraw because of your depression. Rather, define tasks they you do successfully. It is necessary though, that you begin decreasing your commitments and taking control of your schedules to reduce pressure. 

12. Reconcile. Try to resolve interpersonal conflicts with God, family, friends, and colleagues. Don’t let anger, resentment, and bitterness eat away at your soul.

I hope you find the above suggestions helpful. If you do, please put them into practice and share them with others who might also be struggling with depression.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Garage Sale Treasure: Lost and Found

This summer, my wife and I held a garage sale. Missy prepared for the event for several weeks and sorted through many boxes of stuff taken from our storage shed. 

One of the items she put up for sale was a set of hot rollers. It had been a number of years since she’d last used them. But they were evidently still in pretty good shape and someone took them off our hands. We didn’t think another thing about it—that is until Monday morning rolled around.

I was outside in the driveway pulling a tarp over a trailer-load of decomposing sawdust I’d just picked up for our flowerbed before the rain hit. It was already starting to sprinkle. All of a sudden, a friendly looking elderly gentleman peeked around the other side of the truck. He sort of startled me.

“Good morning!” he said with a cheerful voice.

“Hello, Sir, can I help you?”

“Well, this past weekend I came to your garage sale and purchased a box of hair curlers for my wife.”

“Oh, you did?” I said, wondering if there was perhaps something wrong with them and if he was about to ask for a refund.

But then he continued. “Well, my wife was taking them out of the box to inspect them, and she found this!” He held up a small 14k gold wedding ring that I immediately recognized. “She figured that whoever this belonged to would surely be heartbroken if they lost it and would likely want it back. So she asked me if I remembered what sale I’d bought the hot rollers from. I told her I knew exactly where I’d got them. Is this ring yours?”

My heart leapt. I recognized the ring right away and couldn’t believe this honest man was actually returning it.

“Wow, I’m speechless . . . thank you so much! That is definitely my wife’s wedding band. She lost it more than 20 years ago. We looked everywhere for it but couldn’t never find it.”

In retrospect, Missy had actually misplaced her wedding band nearly 27 or 28 years ago. Interestingly enough, over the years she’d come to erroneously believe that we actually returned it to the jewelry store for a refund after a few months of marriage. The reason for this mistaken memory was that the ring was slightly too wide for her dainty finger when positioned beside her broad engagement ring band, causing it to rub uncomfortably on her knuckle.

However, I’d never remembered us doing such an inconceivable thing. The very thought of returning her wedding band for a refund was totally unthinkable to me on the sheer principle of it alone. I simply could never bring myself to do such a thing, as it would feel wrong to me!

Over the years, I’d brought up the matter on a number of occasions, and we’d differed in our recollection of the circumstances surrounding her missing wedding ring. Though—to be perfectly honest with you—both of our memories had grown a bit fuzzy on the issue.

Now, standing in front of me, was a man who had just found one of our relationship’s most sentimentally meaningful objects. It was absolutely remarkable. I could hardly believe it. And what made matters even more flabbergasting was how perfect a shape the ring was still in after such a long time. It looked all shiny and new, just like the day I put it on my wife’s finger and said, “With this ring I thee wed.”

I was deeply touched that this kind stranger and his sweet wife from McNairy County, Mr. and Mrs. McGhee, had taken the time and effort to return this precious item to us, in the rain no less. It meant the world to me.

I uttered, “Thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! My wife will be so overjoyed to finally have her wedding ring back.”

I walked over to the vehicle in which Mrs. McGhee was patiently waiting in the drizzling rain. I motioned to her and she rolled down her window. I told her just how much I appreciated her finding and returning my wife’s wedding band.

She smiled saying, “We know what it’s like to lose a wedding ring as my husband lost his a number of years ago. It was devastating to us both. So, you’re most welcome!”

They said goodbye and backed down the driveway, while I waved at them. I immediately went inside the house and located Missy. I said to her, “Close your eyes and put out your hand! I’ve got something very special for you.”

“What is it?” she replied, half wary of my suspicious behavior.

“Trust me—you’re going to like it!”

And she did.