Have you been feeling an heavy sadness, that just seems to be sticking around? Is it making it difficult to enjoy the world around you? Being sad sucks! So, we curated a list of amazing actionable tips you can use for coping with depression
Whether you have SADD, depression or just have a bad cases of the winter blues, there are things on this list for you. These depression tips can lift your mood, decrease your stress levels, and increase your overall wellness.
If you give them a try leave a comment below to let us know what works for you!
Disclaimer: The information available on The Sunshine Suitcase is published in good faith, and for general information only. It is NOT a substitute for, the knowledge, skill, and judgment of qualified psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians and health care professionals.
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What Is Depression?
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act…Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.American Psychiatric Association
If you or someone you love may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, 911, or local emergency number immediately.
Symptoms of Depression
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood consistently
- Loss of interest/pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — unrelated to dieting, either weight loss or weight gain
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Having a loss of energy or increased fatigue throughout the day
- Slowed movements and speech which is observed by others
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, or guilt
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Can include thoughts of death or suicide
Coping with Depression- The First Step
If you are noticing that you have several of these above symptoms it may be time to reach out to a medical professional, doctor, or therapist! I didn’t start making strides in my mental health until I took this step.
Don’t suffer in silence. You’re not alone and a treatment plan created by a medical professional can drastically increase your joy and happiness.
Although, the tips on this list can help to cope with mental illness, they are not a treatment plan or a substitute for actual medical assistance.
Coping with Depression- 15 Tips to feel happier more often
1- Get Out of the House
Sometimes we get so comfortable in our own home and space that we don’t want to leave the house. You’re not alone there, but getting out of the house is very good for your mental health.
Benefits of Getting Out of the House
- A change of scenery
- Conversing with other
- Fresh air
- Increases serotonin
These are all ways to boost our mood, decrease stress, and activate different parts of the brain. And these are all things you can easily achieve by getting out of your home.
Take a drive, go grab a coffee, walk around your favorite store, visit a new restaurant, go on a hike. Whatever you enjoy doing outside of the home can be helpful.
2- Keep a Journal for Coping With Depression
Journaling helps us to clear our minds, problem solve and work through our emotions. In addition to this it acts as a record keeper, to help us revisit past experiences and identify our triggers.
Journaling is often incorporated into therapy for treatment of depression and anxiety. Spending just 5-10 minutes recording your day is a great way to get started. The below list of prompts can help you get started. For more Journal Prompts to help you get started click here.
Journal Prompts For Coping With Depression
3- Get Active
It’s no secret that exercise improves mood. The trick is getting moving in a way that feels good to you. That serotonin is no joke. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that contributes to happiness and wellbeing.
Depression is caused by an issue with your brains neurotransmitters, serotonin is one of these. Exercise helps to boost serotonin and overtime can help your brain to become more balanced. Moderate exercise does two different things to help fight depression.
- It treats our depression symptoms and the depression itself.
- It prevents depression from returning.
Great Activities to Fight Depression Symptoms
- Going to the gym
- Taking a walk
- Rock Climbing
- Organized Team Sports
Moderate exercise is considered 30 minutes of activity 5 times a week. To begin this new regimen I suggest creating a schedule that you can stick to, with an activity that you enjoy and can stick to.
My Experience: I used to walk to work 20 minutes each way, it was a great way to “sneak” my exercise in while also allowing me to better enjoy my commute. It worked for me because I had to go to work. And being outside in the sunshine walking which, I enjoyed, made it much more achievable for me.
4- Take a Social Media Break
Keeping up with the joneses is a sure fire way to end up unhappy. By watching other peoples highlight reels on social media we decrease our overall happiness. For instance, it can cause us to struggle with self-esteem, body image, worthlessness, listlessness, etc.
As a result, taking a break from social media, can allow us to find more joy and satisfaction in our lives.
Easy Ways to Take a Social Media Break
- Keep your phone in another room, a desk drawer, or your bag. This will prevent your from mindlessly checking social media.
- Turn off your notifications. Shutting off your notifications will give you less need to immediately pick up your phone every time it chimes or buzzes. You can still answer all calls and texts without those pesky reminders from Candy Crush.
- Schedule a Social Media Free Day. After the first few hours you might not even worry about checking your phone. Whenever I take a Social Media Free Day, I”m surprised by how freeing it can be. I enjoy the things I do more and can pay better attention to the world around me.
Social Media breaks and free time can be incorporated as much as you need. You can do it for a few hours each day. Or one day a week. Whatever you find is most helpful for your moods and emotions.
5- Develop a New Hobbie
There are many different types of hobbies we can participate in. Some are creative, physical, or relaxing. But, hobbies differ from just doing something by how engaged we become in the activity. If you find yourself searching for a phone or looking for a way to avoid the task, it might not be the hobby for you.
I.E. Binge watching “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” while playing candy crush on your phone, and texting your BFF might not really be a hobby. Although you might enjoy this activity the level of engagement is spread out. It would make it hard to set goals and feel accomplished.
So, How do Hobbies Benefit My Mental Health?
- Allow you to live in the present moment.
- Develops your creativity.
- Gives you control over how you plan to spend your time.
- Increases your sense of self.
- Encourages you to accomplish goals.
Here Are a Few Hobby Ideas to Get You Started-
- Join a local club– roller derbies, book clubs, trivia groups, bowling leagues. These are all great way to connect with others and develop a skill.
- Take a class on something you have an interest in– cooking, foreign language, dancing, painting, drawing, micro-brewing. You name it, there might be a class for it!
- Revisit an old hobby you used to enjoy- dust off that guitar, skateboard, or yoga mat and reconnect with your old ambitions. Set new goals to achieve.
- Have a friend with a hobby you think you’d enjoy? Ask them to teach you how! This is a great exercise as it strengthens your friendship and also helps you to enjoy your new hobby more.
It’s great to have a hobby or two, but I encourage you to find just one that really resonates with you and try to stick with it for 3-6 months at a time.
Set a goal for each week. Then set a bigger goal for each month. Work towards achieving these goals and be flexible! Allow yourself to gain some confidence and enjoy your new leisure activity.
6- Read a Good Book
Getting out of your own head can be a great distraction from depression. By reading a good book we are able to connect, dream, and imagine. This allows us to separate ourselves from our current stresses. Whatever genre you enjoy can be a great escape.
Self-Help books are another way to cope with depression because they teach us more about mindset and mental illness. Also, we can learn techniques and tips for improving our mood, changing our mindset, and finding happiness.
Self-Help Books For Coping with Depression
- “BIG Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert
- “Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression,” by Nell Casey
- “The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness”
- “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh
- “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson
Get AMAZING unlimited reading material with a free 30 day trial of Kindle Unlimited.
7- Meet Up With a Good Friend
Having a strong support system is an important building block when it comes to mental health. Having a close knit group of people you know and trust, allows you to better express yourself and your feelings.
A new study from The Royal Society of Publishing shares that a healthy happy mood is contagious! So, by spending time having fun, with happy people can be a great way to catch that bug.
In order to do this, we want to work on improving and maintaining our current friendships.
- Meet up with a friend for lunch.
- Call an old pal on the phone
- FaceTime that funny cousin
- Send out an old school snail mail
- Go to a Wine and Paint class
Connecting with friends can be done in so many ways. Try to do something fun with someone who loves and supports you at least once a week. This will help to bring you more joy and reconnect more with the present moment!
8- Develop a Morning Routine
Studies have shown that people who suffer from depression greatly benefit from routine. Creating an easy to follow morning routine that incorporates self-care and things you enjoy will help you to start each day off on the right foot.
My Super Easy 5 Step Morning Routine for Coping with Depression:
- First, I wash my face, moisturize, and brush my teeth.
- Next, I make my bed. I don’t spend a lot of time doing this but, I do make sure it looks good.
- Then, I take my medications and drink water.
- I spend 10 minutes reading, journaling, or meditating. Flexibility here is key, because different moods can make some of these activities harder than others.
- I make coffee, and enjoy 10-15 minutes of ease. Which is honestly just sitting and taking in the day.
One thing that should be on my daily morning routine that is not is: adding movement. Depression can often make you fatigued and tired. This is definitely a side effect I experience so, I find that it is difficult for me to add this in every single day.
Try instead to create an easy to follow morning routine that you know you can stick to. The five items listed above are things I can do each and every day before I leave my home. I stick to them and they give me a great base to start my day.
On days I have more energy, I can add movement in. But, I consider these 5 Steps the basis for my healthy morning routine.
9- Seeing a Therapist for Coping with Depression
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy that is a short-term, hands-on, and based on problem solving. By working with a CBT therapist you can change the thought patterns and behaviors causing your depression and anxiety.
CBT has been in use since the 1960’s and has been proven to help those suffering with depression and anxiety. By working with a therapist you will learn how to handle stressors in a healthier more balanced ways.
We cannot prevent negative things from happening in our lives, but CBT therapy can help us change the way we feel about these events.
This type of therapy has become so popular that you can now get treatment online through sites like Betterhelp.
10- Try Light Therapy
Especially during the winter months, bright light therapy (BLT) can be a great way to cope with depression. The decrease in daylight hours can wreak havoc on our moods.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of seasonal depression caused by a change in serotonin due to decreased light and vitamin D. So, by using bright light therapy, we are able to mimic the suns rays to counteract the negative effects this has on our bodies and brains.
Bright light therapy takes place by sitting in a light therapy box, this box gives off filtered light to remove UV rays while providing artificial “outdoor” lighting.
One of the most beneficial things about BLT is that is helps to reset and control circadian rhythms. If you struggle with irregular sleep or too much sleep as a side-effect of your depression, BLT might be a great addition to your treatment plan.
In addition, BLT can be used with many other treatment options as it is chemical free. This means it is safe for pregnant and nursing women! And can be used to increase the effects of medications with no chemical interaction.
Although BLT has been shown to be most effective on SAD, studies have shown it to be beneficial for other types of depression treatment as well.
11- Volunteer Your Time
Helping others is not only a great way to give back, but it also helps us to feel better. Volunteering our time reduces stress and anxiety. Using your skills to work within the community also helps to create new and lasting relationships which helps to battle depression.
Being able to give back your time in a meaningful way also helps us to get a better sense of fulfillment and joy out of life.
Great Ways to Volunteer Your Time
- Spend time helping children with Big Brother/Big Sister.
- Deliver food to the elderly with Meals on Wheels.
- Walk a dog or play with a cat at your local humane society.
- Join a charity walk or run planning committee
- Read books to children at your local library
Volunteering you time is not just an affective way to give back and help others, but it’s a great way to help yourself too. Take a few moments to research a cause, committee, or non-profit that aligns with your interests. What skills do you have that might be beneficial for this community? Send out an email and ask them about upcoming volunteer opportunities.
Meditation is a technique of quieting the mind and tuning in to our breath and body that is widely practiced across the world. And the reason for it’s popularity is that it actually works.
An Easy Meditation for Coping with Depression:
- Begin your meditation practice by sitting cross-legged with your back straight and your hands on your lap. Alternatively, you can try meditation by lying down on your back. This allows your spine to straighten and energy to flow through you more easily.
- Now, close your eyes and relax your body.
- Next, begin by breathing at your usual rhythm. Take note of any thoughts that arise, but refocus on your breath each time.
- Then, begin to cycle your breathing. Inhale slowly for a count of 5. Followed by a slow and controlled exhale. Do this until you feel your body begin to relax and resume your nature breath pattern.
- Focus on how breathing fill your lungs and the energy of this action as you sit in meditation. Try to do this for as long as you can.
Meditation is a great way to incorporate mindfulness and stillness into your routine. Which are great ways to combat depression.
Alternatively following a guided mediation can help you to find your ease. Listen along and follow the instructions within to make Meditation as easy as a paint by number.
Guided Meditations for Improving your Mental Health
- Guided Meditation for Deep Relaxation, Depression, and Anxiety
- 5 Minute Calming Meditation
- Daily Calm- A 10 Minute Mindfulness Meditation for Self Soothing
Coping With Depression – There’s Always Hope
Depression can often feel all consuming. The lack of serotonin can cause us to become disinterested in things that once brought us joy. But, with the help of a doctor and/or a therapist, you can develop a treatment plan that works well for you.
The above tips can easily be added into a treatment plan to help support and improve your mental health. These also work as stand alone wellness tips to help you live a happier and healthier life.