When you’re feeling sad and down, there are some things you can try to lift yourself back up and overcome your depression.
Living with depression isn’t easy. Sometimes, it may even feel impossible to cope. But overcoming a depressive episode is possible — and you can start today.
Therapy and medication are the go-to solutions for treating depressive disorders.
But you may also feel depressed from time to time throughout your life without having a mental health condition.
Coping strategies can help you manage when you feel overwhelmed. Simple actions such as spending time outdoors, exercising, or journaling may make it easier to climb out of a slump.
Actionable coping strategies can help you start managing depression right now.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), 1 out of every 6 people will experience major depression at some point in their lifetime.
Each person may experience it at different times or varying intensities.
Seeking support from a mental health professional is often a good first step when facing depression symptoms.
They can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Common treatment options include:
- talk therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), behavioral activation, or interpersonal therapy (IPT)
- alternative treatment strategies, like acupuncture or mindfulness
You may also find it helpful to make lifestyle changes.
Often, this involves small yet impactful actions that ease, reduce, or eliminate symptoms and even prevent symptoms from cropping up.
Setting and working toward large or lofty goals can be overwhelming, particularly if you live with depression or another mood disorder.
Fear of failure, lack of energy, and unreasonable expectations can make goal-setting even more daunting.
By breaking things down into small, specific, and achievable tasks, you may be better equipped to overcome symptoms, especially if those tasks are personally meaningful or bring joy.
For instance, declaring, “Today, I’m going to clean the entire house” is likely to be an unrealistic and unmanageable goal when you’re experiencing depression symptoms.
Instead, consider honing in on a chore you can tackle today, such as vacuuming the living room, reading one chapter of a book you love, or playing a few notes on an instrument you enjoy.
Focusing on a single action makes each goal much more approachable. You’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when you achieve it.
Creative activities can also promote positive mental health outcomes if you enjoy being creative. Doing creative endeavors might:
- relieve stress
- raise your self-esteem
- help you focus
Engaging your creativity can be a great way to lift your mood and make you feel more energized.
Participating in dance, music, painting, theater, or other forms of artistic expression can also serve as ways to express yourself or process how you feel.
For example, one
And a 2019 review concludes that dance movement therapy (DMT) can be highly effective in reducing depressive symptoms.
Getting your body moving may be a helpful way to overcome feelings of depression. This can involve any form of physical activity, whether you’re doing a structured workout or simply going for a walk around your neighborhood.
Exercise releases tiny neurochemicals called endorphins that increase pleasure and minimize pain.
While studies are limited as to whether endorphins can ease depression, the positive feelings they create may be helpful in improving overall mood.
A 2019 review even suggests that exercise may be effective in preventing depressive episodes.
Spending time in nature may also help improve your thinking, memory, and mood. You might also feel less stressed after getting fresh air.
It’s unclear why nature has such a positive effect on our overall well-being, but it could be linked to the combination of fresh air and sunlight.
To get the most mental health benefits from your time outside, experts recommend spending
Don’t worry. You don’t have to be a master of the great outdoors to reap the benefits of being outside.
Consider trying the following:
- heading to a local park
- taking a walk on the beach
- eating a meal al fresco
- doing errands on foot
Regular meditation may allow you to relax your mind and body, so you can focus on finding balance and being present in the moment.
One 2019 study found that meditation effectively reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in participants.
There are many approaches to meditation, and establishing a practice can take time.
You can start slowly by adding a few minutes each day to your routine. Then, gradually increase the length and types of meditation exercises over time.
It may feel easier or safer to avoid others when feeling depressed — even those you love the most. But rather than isolating yourself, consider finding ways to reach out to the people you care about.
Connecting with others may feel uncomfortable, but it can be helpful in the long run. Depression has been linked to loneliness. Connecting with others may help you feel less alone.
Spending time with loved ones also may remind you that you are loved and cared for. This can be a powerful tool in reducing depressive symptoms and making you feel more uplifted.
Writing can be a powerful tool for coping with depression. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling has many benefits. It may help reduce stress and anxiety, promote self-awareness, and help you identify negative thoughts and behaviors.
Putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper can also give you a sense of control over them, which may help you better manage your symptoms.
There are various ways you can cope with depression and its symptoms.
Engaging in different strategies such as spending time outside, meditating, using your creativity, or setting actionable and attainable goals may help boost your mood, reduce anxiety, and lessen the effects of depression.
If you find yourself facing challenges on your journey to overcoming your depression, consider seeking support from a mental health professional.
They can work with you to develop a treatment plan suited to your individual needs, which may include talk therapy, medication, or lifestyle changes.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available right now. You can:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255
- Text “HOME” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741
If you’re not in the United States, you can find a helpline in your country with Befrienders Worldwide.