By Jennifer Waddle, Crosswalk.com
Like it or not, there’s a new reality in town.
It’s a reality that has many of us scrambling to find a new normal, or praying for it to end. For those already struggling with depression, quarantine is either a welcome change in routine, or a push into despondency.
The isolation that quarantine brings can exasperate depression greatly. So can the change in routine, the loss of the ability to exercise like one is used to, and the inability to partake in many activities that used to be a source of joy and relief.
With depression often comes a lack of motivation and desire to be antisocial, which our present circumstances can turn into a nasty cycle.
If you or your spouse is having a difficult time settling into your “new normal,” please don’t lose heart. While it might be tempting to shut down during quarantine, this is a time when couples can come together and help each other navigate this passing season.
Ephesians 4:2-3 encourages us with these words: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
While it’s not always easy bearing with one another, especially when confined for long periods of time, it is possible to be a source of comfort and strength for our spouses.
If you feel stuck with a depressed spouse during quarantine, here are 7 ways to help them out of their slump.
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1. Turn Off the News
Being fixated on the latest news headlines is enough to cause anyone to feel depressed. And the more we hear, the deeper we sink into a negative thought cycle. Make a pact with your spouse to turn off the news for 48 hours. It might seem like a long time, but it will be well-worth the peace it brings. Here are a few alternative things to do instead of watching the news:
- Dig out the old home videos. Reminisce together and recall the blessings that God has poured out on your marriage and family. Let the past be a reminder that there are better days ahead.
- Break out the card games. Keep a deck of cards on the dining room table and play a few rounds after dinner. Instead of watching the nightly news before bed, enjoy some friendly competition and keep your mind free from negativity.
- Try an online marriage study through sites like Right Now Media. This period of quarantine might be the ideal time to invest in your marriage spiritually, even if it’s out of your comfort zone. Your depressed spouse might resist a couple’s Bible study at first, but if you gently offer to lead, there’s a good chance they will join you and reap the benefits.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
If you must keep up with the news, limit it to a short span of time early in the day. This will give your mind time to work through the information long before bedtime.
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2. Turn on the Music
Many of us have seen the inspiring balcony performances, as people connect musically during this time of quarantine. There’s no doubt that music can make all the difference in lightening our mood. Consider playing a different genre each day of the week.
- Turn on your favorite 70s or 80s music, open the windows, and dance in the living room!
- Go classical and play the best of Mozart, Beethoven, and the rest.
- Try out your favorite movie soundtrack. (Kids’ movies included!)
- Find a playlist of worship songs and praise the Lord.
When choosing which kind of music to listen to, this article makes a good point: “Pay attention to how you react to different forms of music, and pick the kind that works for you. What helps one person concentrate might be distracting to someone else, and what helps one person unwind might make another person jumpy."
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1
3. Pray Over Your Spouse
A depressed spouse might not feel like praying, or believe their prayers aren’t doing any good. So, do the praying for them. When they are sleeping, ask for God’s peace. When they are worrying, ask for God’s clarity. Intercede for your depressed spouse and ask God how you can support them during this uncertain time.
Take it a step further and post encouraging Bible verses around the house. Share Scripture passages that are especially uplifting. Here are a few verses to consider:
- The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2
- Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord! Psalm 31:24
- Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
- Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
Faithful intercession is what a depressed spouse needs most. By seeking God’s wisdom through this uncertain season, both husband and wife will find a measure of peace to get them through.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 ESV
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4. Try Out a New Recipe Together
You know what they say…what happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen. (Or something like that!) Quarantine is the perfect time for couples to open the old, dusty cookbooks and try a new recipe. Don’t have the ingredients? Make up your own concoction with what you have in the freezer.
This simple change in routine will let your spouse know they aren’t alone in the day-to-day tasks. And it might even become a new habit that both of you can appreciate. The important thing is to let your spouse know you’re “in it together.” Here are 9 Recipes Perfect For Your First Time Cooking Together.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. Ecclesiastes 4:9
5. Play in the Yard
Fortunately, this season of quarantine hit just as it is warming up outside and things are starting to bloom. Help your spouse get out of their slump by setting up some old-school yard games such as horseshoes, badminton, or corn hole. Turn it into a competition for who does the dishes later that night!
Not only does sunshine boost serotonin levels, it sets our circadian rhythms to help regulate our sleep cycles. In fact, there are several inexpensive optics light therapy lamps that can be used in the mornings to reset your circadian rhythm and boost your mood.
Try to get outside for at least 20 minutes every day. Coax your spouse out of the house and into the sunshine!
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1
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6. Stay in Touch
Even though we are social distancing and self-isolating, couples need plenty of physical touch during this time of quarantine. Massages, pedicures, and simple hand-holding can make a world of difference in someone’s mood.
Reach out and help your depressed spouse by embracing them often, rubbing their shoulders, and simply being nearby.
Discuss ways you can connect throughout the day. This can prevent a depressed spouse from climbing under the covers and avoiding the family altogether. In this marriage post, the author reminds, “The act of physical touch is a powerful communicator and speaks loudly and clearly saying, ‘I want to feel connected.’” Helping your spouse out of a cycle of depression can start with a simple touch!
His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me. Song of Songs 2:6
7. Sleep Under the Stars
Being quarantined in our homes doesn’t mean we can’t have a date night or mini getaway. According to this post, “No matter the size, backyards are meant to be a source of enjoyment and refuge—a place in which to escape when you want to unwind, relax, and have fun.”
Create a retreat in your back yard and even break out the camping gear! Set up a tent, blow up the air mattress, and sleep under the stars. Don’t forget the Hershey bars, marshmallows, and graham crackers for a late-night s’mores treat.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26
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