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Lack of sleep and fatigue are the enemies of joy and peace for me. Once I get too tired I seem to lose my ability to think in a positive way. Just learning that sleep is the real problem has been a big help, but I have also been practicing changing those awful thoughts that make me feel so sad. Thoughts create our feelings, and naps just aren't always an option. So here are just a few of the things that I have learned that help me.
1. Breath Prayers. I do this with deep breathing when I start to feel stress and anxiety because it not only helps me calm down, but it helps me to remember that I am not alone. Heavenly Father listens, and His and Jesus' love is certain. I simply pick a scripture, and then say the words of the scripture, or a summary of it, as I breathe. My favorite right now is a variation of Proverbs 3:5-6. I think as I breathe in, "I trust in thee Lord" and as I breathe out "And thou will direct me".
2. Exercise: If I am feeling too down, I often have trouble getting myself to move, which doesn't help my thoughts get unstuck. If I can get myself to, then I do one of two things. I either do Tai Chi, which keeps my mind and body occupied without being overly taxing, or if I can make myself get a move on, I really push myself at something. This is very effective and can even help with my headaches sometimes! It is helpful for me to remember that it is better to do 5 minutes of something, than to do nothing at all.
3. Talk to someone or go where the people are. People can be distracting, and conversations can help me to feel understood, or to get my mind on something besides me.
4. Do something - anything - productive. Clean. Write notes. Make music. Do a craft. Work outside. This keeps my mind away from negative thoughts and as a bonus I have gotten something done!
5. Be Entertained (either by a book, a movie, or a game). For me it is best to let myself be entertained for an hour, and then get moving before I have time to fall back into a negative thought pattern. It always feels better to me if I am as productive as possible, so I try not to choose this kind of distraction all day, or guilt might creep in.
We are all in a battle for joy and peace. On really hard days, we may need to remember that a person who is lying wounded and immobile on the battlefield is still a part of the army, and is still important and valuable to the others who battle on from a standing position. We do our best to help ourselves, but we also allow others to help us. Then, as we get the help we need, and start to heal, we can join the battle more in the way we want to. We just can't give up on the battle for joy and peace. It is worth fighting.
I liked a quote from a talk I listened to by Jessica Gemino "Yes, depression is real, but hope is real, courage is real, resilience is real".