Though I have been free of depression for a few years now, its dark cloud still threatens me with a relapse, especially if I am not vigilant and prepared. It is the same for those I know who have been depressed.
I have a routine to keep depression away, not so rigid that I am instantly depressed if I don’t follow it, but consistent enough overall that it serves as a kind of medication I take on a regular basis.
The first hour of the morning belongs to God, and I spend it in prayer, Scripture reading, meditation, and spiritual journaling. When stress and loss of energy weigh heavily on my soul, I take a time out and rest in a lounge chair, listening to soothing music and meditating on the blessings God has bestowed. In the late afternoon, I take time to read a chapter from Psalms, a chapter from the gospels, or both.
In the evening, I don’t use the computer after 7 p.m. or watch TV after 9 p.m., both stimulants that can inhibit sleep. Then comes what I call the golden hour. For one-half hour I read a few chapters of a selected book, generally a novel by George MacDonald or other book that has a theme of heroism in the pursuit of God. For the other half-hour I listen to music on my MP3 – either Christian praise and worship or classical.
When I go to bed, for about one-half hour before turning out the lights, I read a chapter from the Old Testament and a chapter from one of the four Christian classics I have on my nightstand and then fall peacefully into sleep.
I did not follow this routine or any other routine before I experienced five years of depression. And this is not a routine of drudgery or being scrupulous. It is one that gives structure and meaning to my life, and I look forward to following it each day, not slavishly but as a guideline, sometimes missing days at a time when my schedule does not allow me time or space.