Yesterday we talked about the effects of fall and winter on our mood. While you are waiting for the new season to come, and the darkness and depression to lift there are things you can do to help.
1. Exercise – Research has shown that as little as 15 minutes a day of physical exercise can help improve our mood and outlook. If the cold weather is herding you inside, try a new exercise during the winter months. Perhaps you’ll find a new form of exercise that you enjoy.
In Proverbs, we are told of the importance of maintaining our physical strength. “A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might” (Proverbs 24:5), and “She girds herself with strength; she exerts her arms with vigor” (Proverbs 31:17).
When I feel down, that is often accompanied by feeling weary. I take comfort in God’s word, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).
This isn’t just words on a page, it is God’s promise. When I was recovering from surgery, exercise was incredibly painful and difficult. It felt like being asked to climb a mountain barefoot in dessert heat. As I mounted the treadmill, I literally recited out loud to myself “The joy of the Lord is My strength, the joy of the Lord is My strength, the joy of the Lord is My strength.” When I finished, I knew God and I together slayed that mountain.
Keep in mind, that during exercise, you can also benefit from spending time with God: talking to Him and listening for his answer. Not only is physical exercise helpful for maintaining your emotional, cognitive, and physical functioning, it glorifies God when you take care of your body. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
If you struggle with motivation to exercise, which is common when we feel down emotionally, it may help if you sign up for an event like a race, which will encourage you to train. You might also consider asking someone to be your exercise accountability partner, and exercise together.
If you didn’t have a habit of physical exercise established before you hit the blues, it may seem difficult to start now. I want to encourage you that God promises in His word, that “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
While most medical doctors encourage us to get 30-45 minutes of exercise five or six days a week to maintain physical health, that can feel overwhelming if you haven’t exercised in a while. Remember, I mentioned that as little as 15 minutes a day of physical exercise can help improve our mood and outlook. For some, that may seem like more than they can do. That’s ok. Start small. If you exercise five or ten minutes a day, that’s five or ten minutes more than staying on the couch.
When you’re suffering with the blues, everything seems harder: exercising, going out with friends, even taking your daily multivitamin. Let me assure you, the hardest part is starting. Once you do, you will gain momentum. Once you start, you’ll experience the positive effect on your mood and outlook so you’ll be more willing to do it again.
I want to be one who can ultimately say, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). To win any race, you have to take the first step.
Will you make a commitment to yourself to do some form of exercise today? You might even decide to reward yourself with another lap around the block.
Join me tomorrow as we discuss other ways to beat the winter blues.