In addition to traditional treatments like medication and therapy, these strategies may help you manage depression.

We all go through moments when we feel sad or down. The stress of the highs and lows of day-to-day life can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed and out of balance.

When you live with depression, finding relief from these intense feelings of sadness can be challenging. You may feel so helpless that you think there’s nothing you can do.

But that’s not true. You can ease these feelings throughout the day by adding a few simple practices to your daily routine.

When combined with traditional treatments like interpersonal psychotherapy, these strategies can boost your mood and help you manage your symptoms, whether you’re at work, at home, or hanging out with friends.

Establishing a good bedtime routine helps your body and mind feel rested and energized to get through the day. This is especially important if you have depression.

It’s estimated that nearly 90% of people with depression also have some type of sleep problem, such as:

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends adults get at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night. If you find you’re still sleepy when you wake up or excessively drowsy during the day, you may not be getting enough sleep.

Consider reaching out to a healthcare professional to rule out any other medical conditions that might be causing your sleep issues. They may also refer you to a sleep specialist for further evaluation.

A 2018 review of research suggests a link between depression and diet. Foods rich in nutrients were connected to a lower risk of depression.

In particular, eating higher amounts of fish (omega-3s) and veggies resulted in less chance of having symptoms of depression.

Also, it’s important to try to incorporate fresh and whole foods into your diet instead of refined and processed foods. Other nutrients and minerals like antioxidants and vitamins can help:

  • improve the body’s ability to function
  • reinforce the immune system
  • reinforce sufficient development

Without proper nutrition, the body is more susceptible to physical and even mental health conditions.

When your body runs only on non-nutritious food, it may have trouble functioning at its best. You may find you have trouble sleeping, getting motivated, or concentrating — all of which can make your depression symptoms worse.

Staying hydrated is also important for your overall mental and physical health. In a 2018 study, researchers found that staying adequately hydrated may reduce your risk of depression.

To learn more about the benefits of drinking water and to calculate how much water you should drink a day, consider checking out this article: How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day?

If you feel like your diet and hydration might need some improvement, it’s OK. You can learn to incorporate these lifestyle changes into your daily routine.

Consider adding some fruit to your breakfast or drinking a glass of water while your coffee is brewing. Smoothies are a great way to increase your vegetable and fruit intake. Also, instead of relying on quick, fast food meals, plan a few hours over the weekend to meal prep more nutritious choices.

You can also reach out to a doctor or nutritionist for additional help with making changes to your diet.

If you have depression, staying active can help alleviate your symptoms.

A 2019 study found that exercise helps improve symptoms of depression. In the study, people who exercised at least three times a week for 12-24 weeks showed a significant improvement in their symptoms.

It was also found that exercise increased chance of recovery from depression by up to 22%.

If you aren’t regularly active but want to get started, low- to moderate-intensity exercise — like a brisk walk or yoga — can be a great way to increase your activity tolerance.

If you’re ready for a more challenging exercise, a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout or going for a run can be great ways to elevate your mood and get your heart pumping.

Often times, exercising can be hard when you live with depression. Sometimes people who are depressed find it difficult to get out of bed, let alone do HIIT exercises. Any movement you can do is helpful.

Meditation is another way to help you manage depression symptoms. Meditation gives you the tools you need to recognize triggering thoughts and behaviors without automatically reacting to them. Meditation helps you focus and stay in the present moment when negative stressors and feelings arise.

Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal can also help you cope with depression symptoms. Being able to identify stressors and triggers in your life through routine journal writing can help you gain control over your internal dialogue and ease some of your depressive feelings.

Practicing gratitude is another way to improve your symptoms. Consider taking a moment to acknowledge something good that happens, no matter how big or how small. This can create a sense of appreciation every day.

Recognizing those around you who help your well-being can also increase a sense of daily gratitude.

If you’d like to begin meditating and practicing mindfulness but don’t know where to start, apps like Calm and Headspace are a great way to experiment and find a meditation practice that’s right for you.

Self-care is exactly what it sounds like: taking time to take care of yourself.

It’s not uncommon to get lost in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Before you know it, you’re stressed and overwhelmed, making you more likely to developing depression.

Even small things throughout the day can increase your mood, like:

  • reading a chapter in a book
  • taking a bath
  • reaching out to a family member or friend to chat

Spending time in nature can greatly benefit those who live with mood disorders like depression. According to a 2013 review, sun exposure and the vitamin D it produces have proven health benefits like:

  • regenerating cell growth
  • boosting the immune system
  • strengthening bones

Vitamin D is also critical for brain function. When your body is low on the essential nutrients it needs, you may be more vulnerable to developing mental health conditions like depression.

Being outdoors also promotes activity, which is very beneficial for managing depression. If you’re able to, going for a hike, kayaking down a river, or riding your bike along a trail are ways to clear your head and boost your mood. The fresh air and change of scenery can certainly help, too.

Incorporating a few small, simple activities into your day may help you manage your depression and cope with your symptoms.

Try to take time to check in with yourself and identify what you can do to help boost your mood.

Sometimes making these changes in your day-to-day routine is not enough. If you’ve tried changing your eating and sleeping habits or practicing mindfulness but you’re still having trouble managing your symptoms, there are more options out there.

Remember that depression is different for each person. What works for one person may not work for you. Consider reaching out to a healthcare or mental health professional. They can help figure out a treatment plan that works for you and your unique set of circumstances.

If you need immediate help, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-4357. They also offer Lifeline Chat — an online chat that provides a direct connection to counselors for support.

The helpline provides free, confidential support to those living with mental health conditions or substance use disorders. They can connect you with a mental health professional in your area, local treatment facilities, and support groups near you.