6 Activities To Help Combat Depression

Your mental health intersects with every other area of your life.

A mood disorder, such as depression, can profoundly affect your physical health and your ability to perform at work or school, maintain healthy relationships, and simply enjoy life.

This connection also manifests in the other direction too.

Habits relating to your physical health, professional life, social relationships, and leisure time can influence your mental state.

If you are living with depression or susceptible to depressive episodes, it is important to be aware of how different areas of your life can affect your mental health—for better or worse.

Creative Art

Creativity tends to bring you into the present moment, taking your mind off of negative thoughts or stressful situations.

It can also be a way to express yourself when you might not have the words to describe how you’re feeling. You can use artistic creativity to explore your emotions, work through tough experiences, and gain a better understanding of yourself.

No matter your skill level or preferred art form, there are countless ways to get creative. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece of fine art. It’s the process itself that is therapeutic—playing by your own rules, experimenting, getting into that creative flow, following your intuition, and bringing an idea to life.

Mindfulness Meditation

Bring your attention to your breathing, however it happens to be in this moment. You don’t need to control your breathing. Just notice the sensation of the breath as it comes in and goes out.

Take note of other sensations present in this moment: the feel of your body in this posture, the clothes against your skin, the temperature of the room, any sounds you can hear, and the thoughts rushing through your mind.

Allow yourself the time and space to be aware of whatever is present for you.

This simple act of mindfulness can hugely affect your mood and mental status. When you are fully present in the moment, you won’t be worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.

Practice mindfulness as often as possible, and you will soon experience the positive and immediate impact it has on your state of mind.

Physical Activity

Exercise releases endorphins, which relieve stress and elevate your mood.

Even if you don’t feel like exercising at the gym, just getting out for a walk or doing some light stretches can make a big difference.

Or maybe you’d prefer dancing, playing a sport, or doing some other type of physical activity that you enjoy. The important thing is to get your body moving and get the blood flowing.

Go Out Into Nature

Somewhere near your home is a park, a forest, a river, a pond, or some open space where you can go to clear your head, take in some fresh air, and feel closer to the natural world.

Go out and explore. Take in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature. Make this a core part of your weekly routine. Even if you return to the same bit of nature each time, you will find that there are always new things to discover, new sights and sounds to stimulate your senses, and new depths and details to appreciate.

You don’t need to hike through the wilderness if you don’t want to. Even just sitting on a bench, gazing at the trees, the birds, the squirrels, and the clouds can have a calming and mood-boosting effect.

Shared Experiences

Depression and loneliness often go hand in hand. When you’re feeling down, it can be easy to withdraw from social activities and isolate yourself. And if you do, it will probably make the situation worse.

It can be helpful to be around other people. Even if you don’t feel like talking, being in the company of others can make you feel less alone. Surround yourself with people who make you feel better. Find ways to share experiences and create memories together.

And get yourself, someone you can talk to about your problems, whether a trained professional, a trusted friend or a close family member. Don’t try to go through it all alone.

Small Accomplishments

When you are in the midst of depression, it can be difficult to summon the motivation to do anything. This makes it extra challenging to take steps to improve your mood and mental state.

Advice to “create some art!”, “do some exercise!” and “explore nature!” might not seem very helpful when you’re in this state. Knowing these activities can help your mood doesn’t seem to matter much when you don’t have the energy to follow through.

But it’s important to remember that progress does not always have to be big and fast.

Focus on building self-efficacy—building confidence in your ability to make progress.

You need to practice making good choices and doing good things for yourself. Make a to-do list for today with just one or two items, and smile each time you have the opportunity to cross one off. It doesn’t matter how small these accomplishments are. 

Instead of viewing your depression as a huge mountain that can’t be climbed, approach the road to recovery as a series of small steps. Each step might be tiny, but at least you are moving forward.