How to Cope With Depression - 8 Small Yet Effective Strategies
When you’re struggling with depression, even simple things can feel overwhelming. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a depressive disorder or are simply having deep feelings of sadness, here are 8 simple but powerful ways to cope with depression.
1. Reach out to friends and family
This may be easier said than done. The insidious nature of depression is that it saps your energy and motivation to do the things that need to be done to feel better. Socialization can improve your mood and help you stay connected. Calling a friend may take real effort, but the alternative is isolation.
Limiting your social media time - While it may seem like a low-effort, low-stakes way to feel connected to people, research suggests that any longer than 30 minutes may actually increase feelings of depression and anxiety.
2. Don’t deprive yourself
Let yourself do something that you like to do. While you can’t force yourself to enjoy anything, you may be able to work up the strength to engage in something that you enjoy.
Picking up a new hobby - Taking up a hobby is associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms. Try learning a new skill, joining a group, or volunteering somewhere local to help cope with depression.
3. Alcohol doesn’t help
If you are feeling down, avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption is the best course of action. While alcohol may provide minor, temporary relief, it fixes nothing. When you are coping with depression, alcohol consumption can make you feel even more depressed and increase the likelihood that you will develop a drinking problem.
Drinking a new nonalcoholic drink, mocktail, or an infused water.
4. Don’t hide from the light
Sunlight can boost your serotonin levels, which can result in an improved mood. While you can’t control the weather, even the cloudiest of cities gets some sun to take advantage of.
With that being said…
5. Don’t sit around
There is an abundance of evidence that exercise improves clinical outcomes for depression. It may take an unusual amount of effort to get moving, but something as simple as a 10-minute walk outside can be beneficial.
6. Eat healthy
Do your best to stay away from junk food. While you may crave sugary snacks or high carbohydrate foods, these lead to bursts of energy and then crashes due to blood sugar spikes. What we eat can strongly influence our mood. When coping with depression, it’s beneficial to eat regular meals with healthier selections.
Depression meal planning - Google “healthy depression meals” for ideas on nutritious yet low-effort recipes and food you can keep around your house for when you’re feeling low.
7. Stick to a routine
When we are depressed, it’s easy to lapse into unhealthy patterns of behavior that can exacerbate our depression. When experiencing symptoms of depression, we often sleep in and then stay up later. This often leads to unhealthy eating and other negative consequences. Sticking to a normal routine of waking and sleeping can help you cope better with depression.
Creating TWO routines - one for low-energy days that can include just the essential self-care tasks and one for higher-energy days. That way, you can choose what you have the bandwidth to accomplish.
8. Seek help
If your symptoms last more than a couple of weeks, or if your current course of treatment is not working, ask for help. Therapy works. Medications work. It can sometimes be a leap of faith to accept the course of treatment, but once you start to realize the positive effects, you may wonder why you didn’t act sooner.
If you know that you have depression, you’ll at least understand where your challenges are coming from. If you’re experiencing these challenges without the knowledge that depression is the cause, you may have no idea where to begin to find relief.
Learn How To Cope With Depression With Help From A Counselor
While everyone feels sad on occasion, depression is a disorder that, if not treated, will not simply resolve by itself.
If you have tried to manage your depression by yourself and it hasn’t worked, Creating Connections Counseling in Pittsburgh & Wexford, PA provides in-person and virtual counseling services. Our team of expert clinicians can assess your needs, help you develop a personalized treatment plan, and provide counseling for depression.
Everyone needs help sometimes. We would be honored to help you.
Schedule an appointment
If you are in crisis or have thoughts of suicide, call 988 for immediate help.
Catia Fath, NCC, LPC is a therapist with 20 years of experience helping adults manage anxiety, depression, personality concerns, and relationship concerns.