Every great story, whether adventure, science fiction, or romance, usually has obstacles that must be overcome. Mountains to be climbed, battles to be fought or love that is not returned are just a few. Obstacles sometimes can cause discouragement. Of course, your story and mine are no different. Currently, while searching for a new career, I’m in a discouraging phase. Most jobs I look at are far below my current pay. Those that are comparable, I am usually not qualified for because of my lack of experience in that particular field. During this phase, I’m also trying desperately to appear that I’m not discouraged, which, not surprisingly, is also discouraging.
So, God, being the wonderful all-powerful, all-knowing Being that He is, made me study a Sunday School lesson for my class this week about discouragement. And guess how many students I had today? Uno. Yes, that’s right. Just me.
The focus was on I Kings 19:1-19, where the prophet Elijah was discouraged after Jezebel threatened to kill him. I’m not going into the entire story. You’ll have to read it for yourself, if interested. What amazed me was how the lesson incorporated tactics I have learned through secular means and showed me that God was doing these things too.
How do you deal with discouragement?
1. Get plenty of sleep. (v.5,6)
“Many people are surprised to learn that researchers have discovered a single treatment that improves memory, increases people’s ability to concentrate, strengthens the immune system and decreases people’s risk of being killed in accidents. Sound too be good to be true? It gets even better. The treatment is completely free and has no side effects. Finally, most people consider the treatment highly enjoyable. Would you try it? You probably should. For most people, this treatment would consist of getting an extra 60-90 minutes of sleep each night.” For more about this research, go to http://www.apa.org/research/action/sleep-deprivation.aspx
2. Eat healthy food and drink enough water (v. 6 – 8)
Most of us already know the benefits of eating healthy. It will help you get the right balance of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. It will help you feel your best and have plenty of energy. It can help you handle stress better. Healthy eating is one of the best things you can do to prevent and control many health problems, such as: heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
I do not have a problem eating when I’m discouraged. I DO have a problem eating healthy. When stressed, I tend to grab the sweetest things near me. I’ve found the best thing for me to do is not to bring those types of food into the house. Out of sight, out of mind (well, at least it helps).
3. Tell someone about your problem (v. 10)
This is just as important as the others. Sharing your discouragement is important. Elijah told God. Some people tell their spouse or a trusted friend. Others find a counselor or a minister. Many times just getting the feelings out helps lift the discouragement.
4. Watch and listen for an answer (v. 11-12)
When you tell someone, make sure it is a trusted advisor. I wouldn’t go to a doctor for advice on how to fix my washing machine, and you don’t need to go to someone that you don’t trust their character and experience. Also, when you ask for advice, be willing to listen with an open heart.
5. Do something. Take action. Help others. (v. 15-18)
This is my favorite “go-to” when I’m feeling down. I start looking for someone else to help in some way. Send an encouraging card or type a text. Give to a charity. Give a surprise little gift to someone not expecting it, for example, fixing dinner for my husband! Random acts of kindness are sure to get my eyes off of my problem, and on to making someone else’s day pleasurable. Plus, it just feels good, even when I’m not discouraged.
Along with this is the importance of exercise. Physically moving your body and releasing the endorphins that are mood-boosting chemicals in your brain can curb discouragement. Of course, you when are feeling down, the last thing you want to do is get UP and move. Once you do, though, you will soon discover that exercise IS the poor man’s therapy. Can’t afford a counselor? Take a long walk, ride your bike, go for a run, swim a few laps or hop on your favorite machine at the local gym. As long as you get your heart rate up fast enough and long enough, you will feel the difference!
Discouragement is truly a part of life. We all deal with it from time to time. I’m trying to realize that it’s ok to visit discouragement on my journey. It’s just not ok to live there.
What are your best ways to deal with discouragement?