I’m so glad it’s summer.
There are many reasons for this—sunshine! patio dining! sundresses! But the number one reason is that it’s simply not winter.
When I moved to Michigan two years ago, I fully realized the extent to which the seasons affect my mood. Michigan winters are a completely different beast. They extend from November to March, there’s almost always snow on the ground, and the temperatures rarely get above 40 degrees.
Combine the long, cold winter with the fact that I couldn’t see friends, wasn’t back at church in-person, and didn’t go home for the holidays, and I was really struggling with my mental health.
Now, it’s summer. The sun is shining, the weather has warmed up, and the Michigan lakes are beckoning me to dive in! Theoretically, my seasonal depression should have dissolved like the last bit of snow.
But the truth is, I haven’t felt amazing. I definitely feel better, but the sunshine doesn’t magically take away every mental health struggle. (Although I certainly wish it did!)
There are three things that almost always help my mental health, and I want to share them with y’all today! Even though it can be hard to muster up the strength to do them, I think they can really make a difference, at least for a moment.
(Before we get too far, I just want to say that these are not “cures” for depression, anxiety, or anything else you may be struggling with. Medication and therapy are amazing gifts from God! These are just items that I resonate with and that have personally helped me!)
Gathering together with other humans in real life is such a gift—one that I definitely took for granted until the pandemic shook up our world. It has been such a joy to see friends again, go to in-person worship, and meet with my Bible study group.
God calls us to be in community with one another as the Body of Christ. In community, we can hold one another accountable, encourage one another, and have fun!
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24–25)
Lean on your community, as we are there to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Be honest about your struggles if you feel comfortable, and ask for prayers!
Being out in nature grounds me. I love nothing more than being outside, whether running, walking, swimming, playing disc golf, picnicking, or reading! (Although my allergies beg to differ.) Being in nature also reminds me of the goodness of God—a God who created the entire world.
In His hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it,
and His hands formed the dry land. (Psalm 95:4–5)
As you’re out in nature, no matter what you’re doing, you can take the opportunity to thank God for His good gifts of the outdoors.
Taking time to notice all of the small things outside also helps bring me back to the present. Notice the acorns on the ground, the small oak saplings, the bird chirps, the cracks in the sidewalk. Every little thing you notice is important!
Last, and most important, prayer can remind me of God’s goodness in times when I’m struggling. It can be hard for me to find the strength to pray, even though the periods when I’m struggling are when I need prayer the most!
But, if you can find a few moments to cry out to God, try it out. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can just say a few words, even if they’re as simple as, “Lord, help me,” or “God, I don’t know what to do.”
Remember that prayer is not a Band-Aid healing solution to any of your mental health struggles. Although God can certainly relieve some of your burdens, He also gives the good gifts of medication and therapists who can help!
I want to end this post with a Bible verse that I often cling to when I’m struggling. I recommend writing this on a notecard and putting it on your bathroom mirror, making it your phone background, or putting it anywhere you need to see it!
You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in Your book? . . .
For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life. (Psalm 56:8, 13)
God is with us in our mental health struggles. Find comfort in His Word.