45 Ways to make life easier when depression strikes
Anyone who has ever dealt with depression will know that the symptoms can strike at any time - you're never fully 'cured' from the disease. Depression is a mental illness and can have a serious impact on every area of your life, but there are things you can do to make life a little easier when depression strikes. We've got 45 ways to boost your mood and get you back on track - try one or combine a few to find out what works for you.
#1. Make a "done" list
Forget to-do lists, you need a way to feel proud of what you've achieved today, even if that's just getting out of bed and washing your hair. Make a "done" list to remind yourself that you are fighting back against depression and still achieving great things!
#2. Get a colouring book
It might sound silly, but a kids colouring book (or there are even ones available for adults) and some crayons or pencils can help you to relax and give you the sense you're doing something with your time - even if you haven't made it out of the house today.
#3. Save positive emails and kind words
It's a good idea to create a folder in your email where you can save positive feedback and kind words - or keep text messages you've received which praise you. You can look back on these whenever you are feeling down.
#4. Don't be afraid to cry
Crying releases the negativity you're feeling, and you'll probably start to feel better after a cry. We're not suggesting you wallow in bed with a box of tissues all day, but a little cry every now and then can help you to shrug off depressive thoughts and feelings.
#5. Build a Happy Box
Include in the box everything you need to feel happier when depression strikes. This could include anything from a scented candle and your favourite PJ top to comedy DVDs, a book you love to read, beauty products or even relaxing chamomile tea. Turn to the box whenever you're feeling blue and you'll benefit from a little boost.
#6. Be grateful
Making a gratitude list or starting a gratitude journal is so uplifting, and you'll find that even when you feel like you have nothing positive in your life, there are always little things to be grateful for - even if that's just a cup of tea that you enjoyed at breakfast time this morning. By being grateful for and positive about the things you have, you'll attract more good things into your life.
#7. Play with your pets
If you have a cat or dog (or even a bunny), enjoy some play time or a stroke - stroking a pet can help to lower your cortisol levels and reduce feelings of stress. If you don't have a pet, why not offer to pet-sit for a friend or volunteer at a local animal shelter?
#8. Get plenty of sleep
That irritable, exhausted feeling you get when you've only had a few hours sleep? That can seriously impact your depression, so make sure you get at least eight hours' sleep a night. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling like the world is crashing down around you, making it hard to focus and get work done.
#9. Get ready in the morning
Spending the day lounging on the sofa in your PJ's isn't going to wave bye-bye to the blues. Even if you don't have any plans for the day, getting out of bed, showering, getting dressed and making sure you look good will help you to feel better. Everyone feels better after a refreshing shower! Plus that way if you do decide you feel up to going out later, you'll be all set.
#10. Make a happy playlist
Wallowing with sad music isn't healthy - avoid those ballads and find some happy, upbeat tracks to create an anti-depression playlist! Your favourite songs can make you feel more motivated, happier and energetic.
#11. Be sociable
Even if this means just showing your face at a night out or other event, getting out of the house and surrounding yourself with other people can take your mind off your own negative thoughts. There is such a thing as too much alone time; it can breed depressive feelings, so get your social life back on track.
#12. Make a healthy snack
Put away that family-sized bag of Doritos and make a healthy snack instead - something that isn't going to cause your blood sugar levels to crash, leaving you feeling blue. A handful of trail mix, some nuts, berries and Greek yoghurt or even some home-made microwave popcorn are all healthier options.
#13. Make your bed
Leaving your bed unmade all day not only looks like you don't care, it can make it more tempting to crawl back under the covers when you're having a bad day too. Making your bed look pretty every morning helps you to get on with your day and appreciate your living environment more.
#14. Watch an episode of your favourite show
The key words here are 'an episode' - not a whole season, Netflix binging, sofa surfing TV session. Watching TV is a passive activity, and being passive won't help you fight depression. Use your favourite show as a reward for productivity - if you've made it out of the house to do the weekly shop, treat yourself to some TV afterwards.
#15. Bake something
Baking doesn't have to mean loads of butter, sugar and calories, and we have plenty of healthy baking recipes for you to try on our recipes page. Creating something delicious to eat, whether you munch it yourself or take it to a friend's house, gives you a sense of achievement, and it will also make your house smell pretty amazing!
#16. Make your house a home
Decorate your house, do some DIY or just clean up - making your apartment or house into a space you enjoy being in can lift your mood and ensure that spending time at home is pleasant, rather than depressing.
#17. Choose healthy food
Don't binge on salty, sugary snacks or turn to comfort eating when you feel emotional. Eating a balanced diet and making healthy food choices can help you to feel healthy physically, even if emotionally you're a wreck.
#18. Take some time out
You should never be afraid to tell people you need a bit of alone time. Turn off your phone and laptop, disconnect from the world for a bit and enjoy doing something which relaxes you, such as some yoga, or reading a favourite book.
#19. Take up a new hobby
Ideally, this new hobby should be an activity you can improve at, something that gives you a sense of accomplishment. Whether that's learning to play piano or guitar, training for a marathon or taking up pilates, you'll reap the benefts.
#20. Get outside
Even an hour or so outside in daylight can seriously boost your mood. Your body gets vitamin D from the sun (even on overcast days) and natural light helps to regulate your body clock, so you'll benefit from a better night's sleep tonight!
#21. Write down negative thoughts
Don't write an essay, but do take the time to note down any negative thoughts you're feeling. Over the space of a few days, you may be able to spot a pattern to your thoughts, and identify some possible triggers.
#22. Go for a drive
The open road can help you to feel free and give you perspective on your problems. Crank up the music, strap your seatbelt on and go on a day trip, or a drive to a friend's house.
#23. Cook a healthy meal
Bake a loaf of bread, whip up a superfood salad or make some home-made burgers. Feed yourself, or friends and famil and you'll feel better - we have some great healthy recipes to try.
#24. Use positive affirmations
Stick positive affirmations on post-it notes wherever you can see them, or write on mirrors with lipstick or chalk marker. Read the affirmations aloud to yourself and believe them!
#25. Delegate and eliminate
Delegating tasks to others and eliminating things which aren't essential can free up your time so you feel less stressed. You don't need to respond to emails instantly or complete projects days before the deadline. Take your time and learn to prioritise what needs to be done.
#26. Plan your week
A weekly planner or diary can help you to plan your time, so you're less likely to keep putting things off until tomorrow or hitting the snooze button one more time. You don't have to stick rigidly to the plan, but it helps to have one!
#27. Get some exercise you enjoy
Enjoying the exercise you do means you're more likely to stick to it - try a dance class or maybe some yoga!
#28. Come up with long-term goals
Making a list of things you'd like to achieve gives you something to look forward to. It could be a fitness goal, like running a 5K, a destination you want to travel to or a new activity you want to try.
#29. Pamper yourself
Treat yourself kindly when you feel depressed. Take a long hot bubble bath, book a massage or enjoy home-made spa and beauty treatments.
#30. Read a good book
Escaping into a good book is one of the quickest ways to forget your worries, plus finishing a book gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Pick a cause you care about and you'll find volunteering work can be rewarding and transformative, lifting your mood.
#32. Try meditation
Meditating removes your focus from your unhappiness and stress and allows you to focus instead on what you're grateful for and what's positive in your life.
#33. Talk to someone
Depression is a mental illness and you don't need to struggle with it alone. You may need treatment to get better, and talking to someone, whether that's a friend or a therapist, can really help.
#34. Engage your brain
Worrying and anxiety can lead to depression, so engage your brain with games, puzzles or even DIY and you could find your mood improves, as your focus will be on something else entirely.
#35. Make a fruit smoothie
#36. Make a list of things to do when the world gets you down
If you suffer from depression, try this activity. On small strips of paper, write down on each one things that make you feel happy, things that help you relax and things that you enjoy. Pop the bits of paper in a box or jar, then when you're having a bad day, pick out a piece of paper and do what it says!
#37. Keep a journal
Writing about your day - both the positive and negative bits - can help to reduce feelings of stress.
#38. Re-connect with old friends
Calling old friends for a chat, sending a text or re-connecting on social media can help you to get out of your own head a little and you'll feel more optimistic as a result. Focus on how they are and what they're doing now.
#39. Open the curtains
Natural light when you wake up can provide you with a mood boost that lasts all day, so try leaving the blinds or curtains slightly open when you go to bed tonight.
#40. Switch your light bulbs
Seasonal affective disorder is usually caused by lack of sunlight during the winter months. Swap your regular bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs which mimic natural sunlight and you could notice a boost to your mood and energy levels.
#41. Fake it to make it
Faking a smile even though you feel depressed can actually make you feel happier, as it activates the parts of the brain responsible for mood. So next time you feel down, smile anyway!
#42. Eat chocolate
Craving chocolate when you feel depressed is only natural. Chocolate contains tryptophan which can boost the levels of serotonin (the happy hormone) in your brain. We prefer dark chocolate as it's packed with antioxidants!
#43. Have a hug
Did you know that touching another human being can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure whilst releasing feel-good endorphins that can boost your mood, making you feel happier and more relaxed? As if you needed an excuse for a hug...
#44. Don't crash diet
Crash or fad dieting, such as a no-carb or low-carb diet, can impact your mood. You may find you lose just as much weight and feel happier if you just cut back on fat and focus on eating a balanced diet.
#45. Avoid alcohol
A night out may cheer you up in the short-term, but try not to use booze as a mood booster. Drinking can affect brain chemistry and could impact your work, relationships and other areas of your life. The occasional glass of wine (red is best) is fine, but if you suffer from depression you should definitely cut back on your drinking.