By Kari Thomas
Are ‘new year blues’ a thing?
New year, new me! That’s what we love to tell ourselves. We hope the next year is better than the previous, and we leave the holidays with cheer and optimism. We make New Year’s resolutions and look forward to seeing how long they will last. We ride that festive high as long as our hearts allow. However, for some, post-holiday blues can hit us hard. January can feel like a mental hangover.
As someone who struggles with depression, I know there’s something about coming off the high of having this sweet time with family and friends and settling back into a normal life pattern that can feel dark and heavy after a few weeks.
Are the New Year’s blues a thing? I’m not sure, but that’s what I’ve named them. And while many laugh and joke about making New Year’s resolutions, I’ve recently decided that resolutions for the upcoming year are important, especially if you battle with depression.
If we don’t set resolutions, we can end up feeling like Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh. Eeyore was not a very hopeful character, and I’ll assume he did not sit down and think about setting goals for the New Year.
Resolutions give us a goal. Resolutions give us something to look forward to. Whether it is weight loss, a pursuit of minimalism or to read your Bible more, goals are healthy.
I’ve heard many reasons why people give up on New Year’s resolutions. The biggest reason, of course, is that people think, “Why make a resolution if I can’t keep it?” But as believers, we always have goals of holiness, even though we know how easy it is to fall. We don’t just decide that we will no longer strive for holiness. Of course not! We press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)
There is a need for us to push through the darkness of depression by making goals and anticipating the light that is coming at the end of the tunnel.
What do resolutions look like for the believer who is wrestling with depression? I think they tie in a lot to regular mental health goals.
One of mine is to get back into a regular workout routine. Now don’t mistake this for some extreme weight-loss goal. Physical fitness of any kind is proven to help with depression. According to a Harvard medical article published in 2013, physical fitness is an effective treatment for depression, and for some people, it works as well as antidepressants. So making a resolution to be more active is worth writing down.
Another, as obvious as it may sound for a Christian, is to really make time to dive into the scriptures. My plan is to work my way through the gospels. I believe the more we grow in Christ, the better equipped we are to deal with the heavier things of life. The Bible is full of encouragement for the weary. John 16:33 says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart: I have overcome the world.”
So press on, set your goals for 2019, and even when you fall off, get back on track and continue to fight.
Kari Thomas is a Pearl native and the second born of five siblings. She graduated from Jackson State University with a mass communications degree, with an emphasis in broadcast journalism. For the last 11 years, her church home has been Redeemer Church, PCA on Northside Drive in Jackson.