The time has come to put our knowledge of what depression is and what contributes to it to good use. While depression is something that can (and often does) afflict all of us, some endure it more than others. What we have discovered is that depression is a feeling of hopelessness, like walking through the lightless room stumbling on in pain and numbness.

The causes that contribute to and increase depression range from physical to mental and to spiritual. The question before us now is, “What can we do about it?” For those experiencing depression, when hope seems to be as much a part of a fairy tale as giants and goblins, there seems to be nothing we can do.

However, this is where God and His Word provide a bounty of encouragement and hope. God is, after all, the God of hope (see Rom. 15:13). Hope begins with knowing the biblical truth that God does not leave us to despair.

Much of what I am going to write in the following section assumes one is a believer. I encourage you to check this video out if you have never considered what it means to follow Jesus Christ.

So, where do we go from here? To begin with the easiest treatable aspect of dealing with depression, check out your body. Now, I am not implying that you need to walk in front of a mirror and notice all that New Year Resolutions that you have failed to keep have resulted in a less-than-desirable physique. What I mean is, do a check-up of yourself.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night?
  • How is my diet, really?
  • Am I spending time exercising and enjoying the outdoors?
  • Is there an underlining medical issue that may contribute to depression?[1]

It is amazing how quickly we forget that our physical bodies are closely tied to our spiritual souls. We are, after all, physically embodied spirits (see Gen. 2:7). Thus, the physical will often affect the spiritual; the spiritual will often affect the physical.[2] Sometimes the best thing we can do to lift our spirits is to take a nap!

Along the same lines, what we eat affects our bodies, which in turn, affects our souls. Brian Borgman writes, “A change of diet might also prove helpful. Our fast-food culture is turning our bodies into toxic waste dumps, making us unhealthy…We are body-soul creatures, and how we treat the body can affect the soul.”[3] Adjusting our diets to exclude large amounts of carbohydrates and sugars can help balance our bodies out. This is an area in which you may need help, and there are a variety of places online and in communities that can provide assistance.

What about exercising and the outdoors? Paul, writing to the young preacher boy Timothy, warns “While bodily exercise is of some value…” (1 Tim. 4:8, ESV). He is comparing the spiritual development of godliness as being beneficial for this life and the life to come. However, he is in no way demeaning the value or benefits of physical exercise. Our lives are vastly different from the first century Church. They are vastly different than 100 years ago. We live sedentary lives, hardly moving, and it is wreaking havoc on our bodies. Of the many issues that develops as a result is depression.[4] Working with your doctor, develop an exercise routine that fits your schedule and lifestyle. It is amazing how exercise helps the body address depression.[5]

Outdoors can also help alleviate depression. Now, it is January, and it is cold! This affects when we go outdoors. But when we can, we need to get out of the house or the office and enjoy![6] God created nature to reflect His glory (Psalm 19:1-6), but it also a benefit for us (see Gen. 1:28-30).

These are all things that we can do now. These items may not eliminate depression, but they may help alleviate some of the struggles. So, get some sleep, eat better, exercise, and go outside (with appropriate social distancing and masks, of course!).


[1] I am not a doctor, nor is this medical advice. You need to visit your regular doctor and ask for a physical.

[2] For an interesting display of this in a counseling case, see Dan Wickert, “’Mary’ and Paralyzing Fear,” in Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert, eds. Counseling the Hard Cases: True Stories Illustrating the Sufficiency of God’s Resources in Scripture (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2015), 120-123.

[3] Brian Borgman, Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 139. If you want a scholarly treatment of this, see Felice N. Jacka and Michael Berk, “Depression, diet and exercise,” The Medical Journal of Australia, https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2013/199/6/depression-diet-and-exercise, 29 October 2013, accessed 8 January 2021.

[4] Mayo Clinic Staff, “Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms,” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495, 27 September 2017, accessed 8 January 2021.

[5] See previous footnote. They offer several excellent, practical tips.

[6] Harvard Health Publishing, “Sour mood getting you down? Get back to nature,” https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature, July 2018, accessed 8 January 2021.

2 thoughts on “How can we handle depression physically?

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