What to do when you’re down

Some days I think you just wake up down. You feel like you’ve failed and you haven’t even gotten out of bed yet. You feel behind before you even start. There’s no motivation to do anything or excitement. It feels like there’s nothing to look forward to. You just want to curl up in a ball on the couch and watch something or eat something or scroll on your phone. On those days, how do you keep going? How do you push aside the negativity and carry on and make something productive of the day? How do you glorify God when the funk sets it?

1. Do your quiet time.

The top thing to choose when you have no motivation is to spend time with God. Reading the Bible has a way of resetting your mindset and attitude. You see a God who cares, loves and acts on your behalf. You need to spend time praying and journaling. The Psalms are so helpful. Pour out your heart to God and ask Him to change your state of mind. After all, He is in the business of making old things new and using the bad for our good. Beg Him for help.

2. Renew your mind.

Feelings follow thoughts. So to feel differently you have to think differently. You need to keep your mind busy so it doesn’t wander down the path of negativity and thinking about what you’re failing at. Instead, listen to upbeat, positive music or a sermon. Or I like to listen to an audio book- not one to learn from but one to enjoy. Most libraries have apps where you can do this for free like Libby or Hoopla. Bottom line, think about something good. That’s in the Bible too by the way. (Philippians 4:8)

3. Keep going anyway.

Sometimes if you trudge on against what you’re feeling, things just work themselves out. The worst thing you can do is succumb to the couch and veg out for an hour. Then you feel worse and haven’t gotten anything done. Set yourself a short timer- think 10 or 15 minutes- and start working on a task from your list. Tell yourself that when the timer goes off, you’re going to stop what you’re doing and reward yourself with something. Then do it. Often I find that once I get started, I’m motivated to keep going even when the timer stops.

4. Exercise.

You’ve probably heard by now that exercise produces endorphins that make you feel good. So we should definitely do that when we’re not feeling good. Take a walk outside or do some stretching. Go up and down your stairs a few times or do some yard work. Getting outside is always better so do that if you can. But if you can’t, do anything that raises your heart rate. Think 5 minutes here. We all know we’re not motivated for much more than that at this point, right?

5. Talk to a friend.

Another thing that can help is talking to a friend or your spouse. Maybe it’s a phone call or text. Just let them know how you’re feeling or send a gif. If they’re a good friend, they know how to encourage you and help you through. This just lets you know you’re not in this alone.

6. Serve someone else.

This is again about our minds. When you get your mind off yourself and on to serving another person, your mind is busy and doesn’t have the time for negativity. Then it makes you feel good to see someone else feel good. You look forward to seeing their reaction. Send an encouraging text or take a load to goodwill. Bake something and drop it off for someone who consistently serves you. Write your kids and spouse a nice note and leave it on their pillows. Lots of options. Don’t shoot for the moon here- just something that takes a few minutes. If you don’t have much motivation, starting something big and not finishing it isn’t going to help.

7. Get some sleep.

Sometimes you need to get up off the couch or out of the bed and be active, but sometimes you haven’t been getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can make you lethargic and negative just like too much rest can. Here you need to know your body and what you need. The words of Max Barnett to me in college still ring in my ears here: “Sometimes the godliest thing you can do is sleep.”

8. Eat some healthy food.

I know we all want to eat chips and dip, chocolate and ice cream when we feel down, but those will just make you feel worse. So eat something healthy like yogurt, fruit or nuts. It takes a few more minutes to find something you enjoy that’s healthy, but it will be worth it to not make the situation worse, adding guilt to the negativity. The last thing you need is something to feel worse about.

9. Do something you enjoy.

But that’s a waste of time, you say. Because there is so much to do that I’m overwhelmed and that’s what has me down in the first place. I get it. BUT, if you sit on the couch on your phone you’re not getting anything done either or feeling better. So why not set aside 30 minutes to do something you enjoy that could bring you new inspiration and get you out of that funk? Give yourself permission to enjoy something even when you don’t feel like you deserve it right now.

We all sometimes feel down. When you do, you need to ask the Lord for help and motivation and set your mind on good things. He can lead you out of your fog. As with many things, He supplies the grace and strength but you have something to do as well. So let’s get to doing our part. And then we’ll be back to our joyful selves in no time.

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