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9 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare Yourself for Seasonal Depression

The time to prepare is now, in the autumn before the winter months. If we wait until the depression hits, we’ll be less likely to be proactive and advocate for our own mental health and the health of others.

Contributing Writer
Updated Oct 02, 2023
9 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare Yourself for Seasonal Depression

It is common for people to deal with depression during the winter months.

First, the days get shorter, and there’s more darkness. With colder weather, people stay inside more and get less sunlight exposure, resulting in less natural Vitamin D.

Second, there are a number of holidays through the winter months. Having options for getting out of the house and with the community is a good thing. But people who deal with grief and trauma can find the holidays more difficult, bringing on seasonal depression.

The time to prepare is now, in the autumn before the winter months. If we wait until the depression hits, we’ll be less likely to be proactive and advocate for our own mental health and the health of others.

So, what can we do? Here are nine things you can do now to prepare yourself for seasonal depression.

1. Prayer

The act of prayer has been noted to have healing power when dealing with mental health. Through Christ, we have direct access to God on his throne, and prayer is the primary way we develop our relationship with God and practice our awareness of his presence.

Prayer isn’t only a time when we speak to God, but he speaks to us, as well. Hearing his voice brings power and revelation about all our circumstances and feelings. Therefore, prayer is a source of comfort, strength, and restoration for the troubled mind.

Scripture tells us to cast our cares on God because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We aren’t meant to hold onto our anxieties but bring them to God in prayer. The simple reality of having someone who knows us best and loves us most is encouraging in our darkest times.

We are told to release our burdens through prayer, and trusting in God’s care, which can alleviate anxiety and promote mental well-being. It is no wonder the Bible tells us to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Paul writes to the church in Philippians how they should bring our requests to God, and the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7).

2. Praise/Worship

The Book of Psalms is the largest book in the Bible for a reason. Singing to God, and lifting up our voices to him in praise, holds a significant place in the lives of believers and has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health in various ways.

Psalm 95 says, “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

Worship often includes music, hymns, and prayers that encourage relaxation and stress reduction. Singing and participating in worship activities can trigger the release of endorphins, promoting a sense of calm and well-being.

Worship directs attention away from our personal worries and towards something greater — God. This shift in focus can be particularly helpful when we are struggling with anxiety and depression, providing relief from negative thought patterns.

Praise reinforces the message of hope and comfort found in the Bible, and worship can instill a sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Recognizing our role in God's plan and engaging in acts of service and charity can provide a sense of fulfillment and purpose that is beneficial for mental well-being.

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).

3. Thankfulness as a Discipline

We are called to be thankful. Expressing thankfulness to God plays a profound role in nurturing mental health, and providing solace, resilience, and a sense of purpose.

Thanking God in times of adversity helps us build emotional resilience. This practice encourages a perspective that views hardships as opportunities for growth and learning, reducing the negative impact of stress and adversity on mental health.

Expressing gratitude to God can act as a powerful stress reliever. It fosters a sense of surrender and trust in a higher power, alleviating the burden of trying to control everything in life. This release of control reduces stress and promotes relaxation.

Gratitude towards God encourages a positive outlook on life. It shifts focus from what’s lacking to what’s already present, promoting feelings of contentment and satisfaction, which are essential for mental well-being.

Belief in God’s love and care instills hope and resilience. It helps us face adversity with courage and confidence, knowing that they are not alone in their struggles.

Thankfulness to God often leads to increased compassion for others. This sense of empathy can have a positive impact on mental health by fostering positive social connections and promoting a sense of purpose.

And we have a promise, that if we bring our anxieties to God with thanksgiving, the peace of God will reign in our heart (Philippians 4:7). Develop a discipline of thankfulness.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

4. Fellowship with Other Believers

There is already data that shows how regular social interaction plays a crucial role in combating seasonal depression.

One of the common features of seasonal depression is a tendency to isolate ourselves due to low mood and lack of energy.

Regular social interaction helps counteract this isolation by providing opportunities to connect with others, reducing feelings of loneliness, and enhancing our sense of belonging.

Interacting with friends, family, and social groups offers emotional support. Sharing your thoughts, concerns, and experiences with others can be therapeutic and provide comfort during the dark winter months.

These activities keep us engaged, provide positive feedback, and give us a sense of routine in a positive environment.

We are told in the Bible to gather as believers on a regular basis, to not neglect the community of faith, and the positive impact on our mental health is part of the reason.

Church fellowship provides a natural and spiritual environment for social support, companionship, and a sense of purpose beyond the day-to-day.

The Church lifts our vision off our limited situations and onto other people and our greater purpose, which gives us endurance for the day-to-day.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

5. Regular Exercise

Get out and exercise. Come up with a routine now while the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees.

Regular exercise has a profound and positive impact on mental health for several reasons.

Exercise stimulates the release of neurotransmitters like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These chemicals play a key role in regulating mood and reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.

Physical activity can act as a natural stress reliever, lowering cortisol levels, the body’s stress hormone, and promoting relaxation.

Sleep improves in quality and duration, which is essential for mental health, allowing the brain to process emotions and recharge for the day ahead.

Achieving fitness goals and feeling physically capable leads to increased self-esteem and confidence, boosting our overall self-image.

The stronger mind-body awareness through exercise can help us better recognize and manage our emotions, as well as respond to stress in a healthier manner. This builds mental and physical resilience.

Exercise has been shown to improve concentration, problem-solving abilities, and creativity, which can positively impact mental health.

Incorporating exercise into a daily or weekly routine creates structure and discipline, which can be especially helpful if you struggle with mood disorders. A consistent exercise regimen can provide a sense of purpose and stability.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).

6. A Healthy Diet

A healthy diet plays a pivotal role in promoting good mental health. The foods we consume have a direct impact on brain function and mood regulation. 

A balanced diet provides essential nutrients that support various brain functions.

Certain foods contain amino acids, such as tryptophan, which are necessary to produce neurotransmitters like serotonin.

Serotonin plays a key role in regulating mood, and an inadequate supply can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to various mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish can help reduce inflammation.

A diet that includes complex carbohydrates, fiber, and lean proteins helps regulate blood sugar, preventing mood swings and irritability.

Research suggests a strong connection between the gut and the brain. A healthy diet that supports probiotics and fiber can positively influence mood.

Antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts protect the brain from oxidative stress and damage, which can contribute to mental decline and disorders.

Proper hydration is essential for mental clarity and cognitive function. Dehydration can lead to symptoms like brain fog and fatigue, negatively impacting mental health.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

7. Supplements

While they should not replace evidence-based treatments for mental health conditions or a healthy diet, supplements can offer support and potential benefits in certain cases.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, have been associated with improved mood and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to an increased risk of depression. Adequate sun exposure and dietary sources like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and supplements can help maintain optimal levels.

B vitamins, particularly B6, B9 (folate), and B12, are essential for brain function and the production of neurotransmitters.

Deficiencies in these vitamins can contribute to mood disorders. Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including those related to mood and stress regulation.

St. John's Wort is an herbal supplement used for centuries to treat mood disorders, but it can interact with medications, so it should only be used under a doctor’s supervision.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb known for its stress-reducing properties. It may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress, though more research is needed to fully understand its effects.

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5).

8. Learn Your Own Symptoms

Self-awareness of your own symptoms and tendencies is a fundamental aspect of maintaining and improving mental health. 

Recognizing the early signs of mental health issues allows for timely intervention and treatment. Self-awareness enables us to seek help or make necessary adjustments in our lives before symptoms worsen or become more challenging to manage.

Self-awareness empowers us to take an active role in our mental health. When we understand our symptoms and tendencies, we can make informed decisions, seek appropriate resources, and engage in self-care practices that support well-being.

Acknowledging and discussing mental health symptoms openly helps reduce the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. When we are self-aware and open about our experiences, it can encourage others to seek help without shame or judgment.

Self-awareness allows us to identify their triggers and stressors. With this knowledge, we can develop and implement effective coping strategies to manage these challenges and reduce the impact on mental health, and knowing our stressors improves healthcare professionals and support networks. This leads to better preventative measures and more accurate treatment.

Knowing our tendencies and symptoms can guide the development of a personalized self-care routine. Self-awareness will help you build resilience by identifying self-soothing practices and resources that work best for you.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

9. Have Resources for Christian Counseling Handy

Having ready and accessible counseling resources is crucial for promoting and maintaining good mental health.

Mental health crises can occur suddenly and unexpectedly. Having handy resources for counseling ensures we can quickly access professional help when needed, which can be lifesaving in cases of severe distress or suicidal thoughts.

Many mental health conditions can be effectively managed or mitigated through early intervention. Accessible counseling resources enable us to seek help at the first signs of distress or symptoms, preventing issues from escalating.

Busy schedules and other commitments can make it challenging to schedule and attend in-person counseling sessions.

Handy resources, such as teletherapy or online counseling, provide convenience and flexibility, making it easier for us to access support.

In rural or remote areas, mental health services may be limited. Handy resources, including online counseling platforms, bridge the gap and ensure that people in underserved areas have access to professional help.

Some counseling resources are cost-effective or even free, making mental health support accessible if we limited financial means. Knowing these resources ahead of time is invaluable.

Handy counseling resources not only benefit individuals struggling with mental health issues but also provide resources for our family members and friends seeking guidance on how to support loved ones.

Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance (Proverbs 20:18).

For further reading:

How to Deal with Grief This Autumn Season

Is God with Us in Our Depression?

How Should Christians Respond to Changing Seasons?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Gargonia

Britt MooneyBritt Mooney lives and tells great stories. As an author of fiction and non -iction, he is passionate about teaching ministries and nonprofits the power of storytelling to inspire and spread truth. Mooney has a podcast called Kingdom Over Coffee and is a published author of We Were Reborn for This: The Jesus Model for Living Heaven on Earth as well as Say Yes: How God-Sized Dreams Take Flight.

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The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

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