Even with proper treatment, depression can still reoccur from time to time. Knowing how to deal with depression can help shorten the duration and lessen the severity of a depressive episode. In this article, we’ll explore 11 successful coping strategies for depression.
Unfortunately, by its very nature, depression saps your energy and motivation, making it seem almost impossible to take the steps to combat depression. The cruel challenge of depression is that the activities that are best at fighting depression are also the activities that seem the hardest to do when depressed. But by starting small and taking incremental steps, you can fight back depression and regain your mental health.
To start, pick one activity and commit to doing it. Then, once that activity is finished, pick a second activity, and so on. You’re guaranteed to find at least one activity on this list that will fit within your available time and will be a winning strategy for you.
11 great ways to fight depression
1. Connect with Others
The very nature of depression creates a tendency to isolate and withdraw from others. Yet that is the exact opposite of what is needed. Reaching out to friends and family members may take extraordinary effort, but it is essential. Catch up with an old coworker at lunch, invite a friend over for dinner, or call a family member you haven’t talked to in a while.
Make sure some of your connections are face-to-face, not phone, text, or social media. While calling and messaging do help, there is still a distance between you, making these efforts less impactful in alleviating depression. Meeting someone for lunch forces us to shower, get dressed, leave our home, and meet someone in public – all things that become harder to do when dealing with depression.
2. Connect with Nature
Getting outdoors in nature can provide an immediate improvement in our mental health. Taking a hike, walking on a pedestrian path, or even going to a nearby park are great ways to get a quick boost in positivity. You can even combine spending time in nature with spending time with a friend for a double benefit. Invite a friend along for a hike or a walk to the park.
3. Connect with Yourself
Connecting with yourself through meditation brings positive benefits of awareness, mental clarity, and relaxation. Meditation teaches you to let go of negative thoughts and become more mindful about your control over negative thinking. It also helps clear your mind to allow positive thoughts, gratitude, and peacefulness to replace depressive thoughts.
4. Get Some Sunlight
Whenever possible, get outside during the day and spend some time in the sun. Sunlight boosts serotonin levels and improves your mood. Even a few minutes a day will make a big difference. While being outdoors in nature is a great way to grab some sunshine, it’s not the only way. You can take a quick walk during your lunch break at work, enjoy a meal outside rather than indoors, or spend time doing yard work or gardening. It’s not hard to find ways to spend time outdoors in the sunshine, it just takes a bit of planning and the commitment to do it.
5. Get a Pet
While having a pet may not be for everyone, it can be a great way to alleviate depression. Taking care of a pet helps you focus on something other than your depression. It also helps enforce responsibility, such as feeding, walking, bathing, and grooming. Those activities benefit your pet but benefit you as well. If you choose to get a dog, for example, those daily walks help get you outside in the sunshine, too. And of course, the emotional bond formed between you and your pet may be the best benefit of all.
6. Listen to Music
Ever wonder why movies contain so much music? Music can alter our emotions, making a dramatic scene seem more dramatic or a romantic scene appear more romantic. But this trick isn’t just reserved for Hollywood – it works the same in real life. You can help boost your mood at any time just by playing your favorite playlist. This is an easy trick that you can do almost anywhere – in a car, out for a walk, at home, even at work (workplace policy permitting, of course).
Even under the best of circumstances it can sometimes be difficult to muster up the motivation to exercise. Add depression to the mix and exercise can seem like an impossibility. And yet, exercise is great for improving your mental health. Endorphins are released during exercise, which improve our mood, making physical activity one of the best depression coping tricks. Exercise also helps improve our sleep, mental clarity, and stress levels. And the best part is, you don’t need to head out and run a marathon to benefit. Start small and go for a walk. Once that is manageable, make your walk more vigorous or switch to a more intensive activity like jogging, cycling, or swimming. Exercise keeps both body and mind healthy.
8. Try Yoga
Not into intense cardio activity? Try yoga instead. Depression creates stress throughout the body, causing muscles to ache and fatigue. Yoga works wonders at releasing muscle tension and stress, helping the whole body feel and perform better. And don’t be intimidated by visions of having to twist your body into a pretzel shape – there are beginning yoga poses suitable for any body type or fitness level.
9. Do Some Spring Cleaning
You don’t have to wait until Spring to do some Spring cleaning. One of the hallmarks of depression is a tendency toward decreased hygiene – either our own or that of our living spaces. Messy spaces contribute to mental stress and can leave us feeling tired, deflated, and overwhelmed. Cleaning around the house is one of those activities that produces a double benefit – we feel a sense of accomplishment when we are finished and the newly clean room contributes to ongoing positive feelings.
Writing down our thoughts and feelings is a great way to process what we are actually feeling. Many times, just the act of writing it down will help with both recognition (identifying the feeling) and release (letting the feeling go). Journaling can be a safe space to dump all your negative thoughts and feelings, allowing you to free yourself from the negativity by leaving it there in the journal.
11. Practice Gratitude
The opposite approach from pouring your negative feelings into a journal is to start a gratitude journal. Record the things you are grateful for in life. They can be quite simple: sunshine, birds chirping, the kindly neighbor who waved at you. Keeping a gratitude journal helps you recognize the positive elements in your life and gives you a handy reference to look back on when feeling down.
While these 11 coping skills are extremely helpful, it’s important to remember that these are not permanent solutions. If you are struggling with depression that doesn’t resolve, it’s best to speak with a mental health professional. You can speak with a psychiatrist or mental health nurse practitioner at Ampelis Health to find a better, more permanent solution to your depression.
Depression Help in Utah County and Ogden Utah
Call us today at 435-776-5909 to receive a depression screening and treatment plan customized for your specific needs. Appointments are available in our Highland (Utah County) and South Ogden offices.