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  • Writer's pictureMegan Estes

Climbing Out of the Pit--How To Feel Joy on a 'Low' Day

Updated: Feb 7

Everyone has bad days. Some of us might even have extremely bad days as we struggle with mild to severe depression. Regardless of what “level” of “low” you may experience in your life, remember that everyone has low days. When I encounter a day where I feel extraordinarily low and don’t feel like living fully as the arrow shaper, people mover, cherished seeker, and grateful warrior that God has made me– what do I do?

look up to feel joy

1. Look up the spiral shaft.

It’s usually not an isolated moment that I am feeling low and stuck in a pit of despair. More often than not it has been a downward emotional spiral staircase disguised as “coasting” that brought me here.

Coasting down here might have come from one of the following: Lack of sleep. Pride pained. Going off the food plan that I know fuels my mind and body. Or a runaway thought of all the pain of past hurts, instead of contained and captivated thoughts.

Thus, the spiral shaft I’ve fallen down is within my mind. Not something somebody has shoved me into.

Maybe I wouldn’t be down here had I not thought: “I’m not a food addict anymore, I can have one Oreo,”–then proceeding to have a few Oreos which leaves me with a sugar headache, apathetic sadness, and a desire to feast on more of this junk that doesn’t satisfy. Or maybe I was creative in finding something else to shame and hate myself about—a relationship I thought was healed but have recently found out is broken again. Or maybe I decided to become a contestant in The Comparison Game again– why oh why do I keep playing? I know these thoughts/behaviors always take me down this well known shaft and yet somehow I’ve tricked myself into thinking I can entertain these thoughts without major consequences. Figuring out what missteps I took that led here is important–so that I can learn how to steer clear of this path in the future.

So, back to the first question…what to do when I don’t feel like being/behaving as the joyful woman I know God created me to be?

cry out to your heavenly father

2. Cry. Then cry out—to your Heavenly Father.

Praise God, cry out to Him. Basically stop avoiding Him and engaging in other thoughts or distractions of the mind. Start thinking about Jesus and talking with Him. It’s a great place to be at any moment–connecting with your Heavenly Father. This doesn’t need to be in a beautiful setting–sometimes it can be on a bathroom floor, in a kitchen filled with dishes where you scrub and talk to Jesus with praise music on. Sometimes I just fall on my face on my bed and rest my body and my mind and try to surrender. Bottom line–start a conversation with Jesus. And try to listen.

repent, turn around

3. Repent and re engage

I become determined that I will not believe in nor engage in these downward spiraling beliefs and thoughts. (Repenting is a complete turning around–180 degrees, reengaging is the first step you take after completing the 180 degree turn)

It’s really hard to stop thinking about things you want to stop thinking about! Yes, you read that correctly! Instead of trying to STOP doing something, sometimes it’s easier to START doing something and trust that the positive truth=filled thoughts will follow. I discipline myself into thinking about God’s goodness, reading His Word, speaking it outloud, etc. For me, I have to get very nitty gritty and detailed with rebuking and repenting of the lies I have believed that led me to the pit. One of the things I might say is, “I am forgiven and free. Satan, you no longer have power over me through food or people pleasing. I can be okay even when everyone doesn’t like me and I can know that God is good and still has good plans for me.”

When I’m constantly reminding myself of Truth, the lies have no option but to eventually evict. Sometimes it takes a while, other times the lies leave instantly. The re engaging part is about reminding myself that I’ve been here before and know I just need to take the next step to do the next right thing, regardless of whether I feel like doing it.

Do the workout, eat the veggies, drink the water, read the Scripture, turn off the social media, pray the prayer, pursue the husband, love on the kids, be silly, offer to serve someone, write a card for someone hurting, etc. Don’t wait until you FEEL like reengaging, cause feelings are fleeting and unpredictable. Be deliberate in starting to act like the person you know you are in Christ–and before you know it the darkness will flee.

praise God until you feel joy


I don’t praise in the pit because I feel like it; I praise God when I’m in the pit because I KNOW He’s my joy and somehow in the chaos of my mind I got disconnected from my life giver and focused on earthly things–which led me to the pit! Start praising Him for what you can see right in front of you. Thank you God for my warm home. Thank you for a strong body to do the work you’ve given me. Thank you for the food in our fridge. Thank you for a view of the mountains from my window. Thank you for these children you’ve blessed me with, even though I’m really wanting to run away today. Thank you for a dishwasher, washing machine, hot water to bathe in, warm shoes to cover my toes up in the snow, etc etc….

Praising in the pit is like potty-training of the mind, it takes diligence, practice, determination, and patience knowing there will be messy accidents in my mind resulting in thoughts that need to be flushed away. When practice, diligence, determination, and patience meet—then we see progress in a new way of thinking, feeling, and ultimately living. Constant praise is a habit worth developing. It will someday become a natural reaction to praise God in the pit—just like one day you stop crapping your pants…eventually.

How to Keep From Falling Back Into the Pit

When I implement these practices (looking up the spiral shaft, crying out, repenting, reengaging, and praising) I naturally start to notice the lie of “coasting” that led me down this spiral shaft in the first place. The lies and toxic thought patterns start to stand out which makes them easier to identify and destroy. When the lies, thoughts, and patterns of behavior that led me to the pit are unclear that’s when I need to do some investigation with the Holy Spirit (and maybe my accountability partner) as to “how” I got down here. Staying out of the pit starts with knowing what thoughts/behaviors led me to the edge in the first place.

Before I start to feel too low a good action for me to take is to serve someone. (Even if that ‘someone’ is in my own home). Ultimate joy and connection to the Father is often found for me when I choose to be His hands and feet—letting Him guide me. Left alone with my thoughts running wild is dangerous—but if I can step away from that place for just a second to text a prayer to a friend, take a meal to someone, check in with a neighbor, do something to serve behind the scenes—-basically anything that gets this train of my mind chugging in the right direction is a game changer for me. Because trains are hard to stop, especially once they veer off course. They generally like to stay on track, and the track of praising God and serving others is an excellent place to station my mind.

Thank you, LORD, for always giving me a rescue rope to climb out that self-pity shaft. I know you’re my ultimate joy and that your Word says to think on things that are pure and true. Forgive me for listening to the lies and thoughts of shame and darkness. I want to live in Your light and be the light. Help me to look more like you each and every day.

Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

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