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15 Things to Do to Fight Depression Symptoms

Things to do when depressed
Written by:

Wafaa Amjad Dar



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People suffering from depression often struggle with their day-to-day life. They might face difficulties in family relations, social life, and at work. And while medical help like medications or therapy can alleviate symptoms of depression, one can also boost the effects of treatment by using self-help techniques.

However, apathy or anhedonia can make it difficult to choose a pleasant activity. Below, we’ve gathered 15 examples of things to do when depressed that can help reduce negative feelings and contribute to symptom relief.

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Prioritize Your Sleep

Adequate sleep [1*] is very important to your body’s normal functioning. Little or poor-quality sleep affects your overall well-being. Therefore, if you are fighting depression, ensure that you practice good sleep hygiene so as not to make your symptoms worse. Sleep hygiene requires that you have consistent bedtimes, create a good environment for sleeping, and avoid using digital devices right before bedtime.

Take a Quick Walk

Introducing physical activities for depression, as simple as walking [2*] around the block, also mitigates common symptoms of depression. Physical activity releases natural chemicals (endorphins) which promote feelings of well-being. Short-distance walks are simple, low-density activities that can improve mood and quality of life. Walking with your partner in parks or your estate as you interact with nature outside is also beneficial, especially if the diagnosis is related to seasonal affective disorders. [3*]

Ride a Bike

Apart from walking, you can also ride a bike to fight symptoms of depression. Riding allows you to refocus and enjoy endorphins released from the body. If you don’t fancy cycling, you can try skateboarding or rollerblading.

Cook Something You Like

Spending some time in the kitchen also helps in overcoming depression. Cooking [4*] your favorite meal keeps you occupied as you anticipate a tasty meal. You can stick to your favorite recipes or try something new. Cooking your own meals also gives you control over the ingredients, ensuring that you are getting the essential nutrients for optimal health.

Engage in Gardening

Gardening [5*] , be it tending to your backyard or adding indoor plants to your home or office is among the many ways to help depression. Plants are known to promote relaxation. Gardening allows people to connect with nature positively impacting mental well-being. Indoor plants are strongly linked to improving the workplace environment, reducing stress, and decreasing anxiety and depression.

Read a Book

Getting lost in your favorite books [6*] also helps alleviate stress and depression. Spending your free time reading about ancient history, scientific facts, and other interesting topics, whether online or at the library stimulates your brain, allows you to self-reflect, and distracts you from unhappy thoughts. Reading can help improve cognitive impairments such as memory and concentration. In addition, self-help books [7*] can help readers develop more positive thinking patterns and behaviors, while also improving their ability to manage and cope with difficult situations.

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Listen to Music

Listening to your favorite music [8*] is among the widely recommended depression tips. Music affects your thoughts and feelings. Listening to your favorite music when feeling down makes you happy, uplifting your mood.

Unfortunately, most people struggling with depression often choose music that worsens rumination and sadness. While listening to such music is tempting, opt for upbeat songs that inspire positive emotions and make you feel better.

Depression tips

Do Yoga

Yoga [9*] has significant physical benefits, beyond the widely known spiritual benefits. Yoga and practicing mindfulness can help alleviate symptoms of depression and improve physical, and mental health. It emphasizes the mind-body connection, which can increase awareness of thoughts and emotions while promoting relaxation.

Go for a Movie

Going for solo movie [10*] dates is very underrated. You can escape the real-world issues that cause depression and other mental health issues for a few hours by scheduling a movie date. For this, it is best to book daytime movies when movie theaters aren’t busy.

Bask in the Sun

There’s sufficient evidence that vitamin D [11*] deficiency can cause depression. Vitamin D can affect mood-regulating hormones leading to a reduction in depressive symptoms. You should consider taking supplements if you can’t get enough vitamin D through diet or sun [12*] exposure. You should also take note of other nutrient deficiencies that can amplify depression symptoms.

Mental health professionals can guide you well on your path to improved mental well-being.

Focus on Your Spirituality

Religion or spiritual practices [13*] are an effective source of support and reassurance for some people struggling with depression. Some people choose to join a specific religion or go to church or mosque while others prefer different activities. These may include noting what you’re grateful for, meditating, practicing acceptance and forgiveness, etc. All that can improve mood and overall well-being.

Change Your Thoughts

Thoughts directly affect your mood. Good thoughts improve your mood while negative thoughts may worsen your well-being. You can change negative thoughts by identifying, challenging, and restructuring them, and by practicing self-affirmations. If you can’t shake off negativity, consider seeing a therapist. Therapists use several treatment interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT [14*] ) to help persons with depression.

Establish a Daily Routine

Depressive episodes can make it difficult for affected persons to stick to their schedules. Creating a routine can improve mental health by establishing a sense of normalcy, even if you suffer from stress and anxiety. You should have a routine that lists the basic things and self-care activities.

Try New Hobbies

Depression limits the interest and motivation to try new things. Therefore, you can list several activities [15*] you’d like to explore and work on them one at a time. Start small, and you will identify a few activities that spark your interest or motivate you over time.

Improve Your Social Life

You shouldn’t struggle alone if you feel depressed and lonely. Reach out and make plans with your friends and family members. You can also join a support [16*] group, volunteer programs, and sporting activities.

The Bottom Line

Depression among adults is common and is primarily characterized by feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and loss of interest. If left untreated, depression affects productivity at work, school, and normal life. Affected persons can keep depressive symptoms at bay using these easy tips mentioned above. If the symptoms remain for a long time, consider seeing a mental health professional.


16 sources
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  2. Walking for depression or depressive symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis. (2012)
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  4. Psychosocial Benefits of Cooking Interventions: A Systematic Review. (2017)
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  5. Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. (2017)
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  6. A chapter a day: Association of book reading with longevity. (2016)
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  8. Music therapy for depression. (2017)
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  10. Movie watching during dialysis sessions reduces depression and anxiety and improves quality of life: A randomized clinical trial. (2020)
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  11. Vitamin D and depression. (2016)
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  12. Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study. (2009)
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  13. A spirituality teaching program for depression: Qualitative findings on cognitive and emotional change. (2011)
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  14. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression. (2020)
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  15. Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being. (2009)
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  16. The relationship between social support networks and depression in the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being. (2017)
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Written by:

Wafaa Amjad Dar



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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.