9 Crazy Simple Ways to Beat Depression

Dale Partridge
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Have you ever been surprised to find that a simple activity drastically lifted your mood? Sometimes it's the prodding of a good friend that gets you out of your pajamas. Other times it's simply waking up early (when you usually sleep in) to catch the sun's first light.

Over the years, I've struggled with bouts of anxiety and depression. It's tough, but there really are beautiful, simple ways available that can help us escape the clutches of feeling like crap. Over the past 10 years, these 9 strategies have allowed me to beat bouts of depression and steal back my life.

We all have bad days, but one thing is true; no cloud is so dark that the sun can’t shine through.

Here are 9 Crazy Simple Ways to Beat Depression

1. Sleep and Don’t Feel Guilty About It. Sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Insomniacs are 10 times more likely to have depression than their well-rested counterparts. I know this is true of me. When I’m tired, I’m more emotional. When rested, I’m more even-tempered, less prone to act irrationally. (My wife appreciates it when I get a good night’s sleep.)

2. Reconnect with Friends. Be around people who can make you laugh when you don't even feel like smiling. The worst thing you can do during depression is isolate yourself from the rest of the world. Although you think, “I have nothing to give. I have no energy to connect with anyone right now!” that’s not true. Being around other people actually energizes and revitalizes our souls. It gives us the energy to make it through the day. The less people you see, the longer your depression will last. So think back to best times of your life and reconnect with those people.

3. Avoid Alcohol for a Season. First off, I love beer. It's one of my favorite things. But I’m sure you know this: alcohol is a depressant, a downer. If you’re struggling with depression, stop drinking for a time and see if it makes a difference in your moods and emotions. It did for me.

4. Journal At Least 3 Times Per Week. Try to practice this discipline for a month.  The healthiest people are reflective, not reactive. They take time to process the day’s highs and lows and to understand their own emotional responses to stressors throughout the day. Mine consisted of three questions. What was your high today? What was your low today? What are you excited about for tomorrow?

5. Watch Only Funny Movies. Laughter is literally healing for the soul. When you laugh it actually changes the chemistry in your brain, releasing happy hormones. Laughter is a drug free antidepressant. Go watch Brides Maids, or Anchor Man, or even back to the classics like Dumb and Dumber.

6. Change Your Radio/Pandora/Spotify Diet. Are you depressed because you’re alone? Or going through a breakup? Probably best to get rid of “love songs” from your musical diet. Is there a type of music that lifts your mood? Listen to only that type of music or nothing at all. Silence is golden (for a time). It gives you time to think and reflect. You can work on #4 as you make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the silence. Or you could listen to Weird Al Yankovic…

7. Find A Creative Outlet. What floats your boat? Figure it out and go do it. This can be writing, painting, gardening, or fixing motorcycles. The only requirement is that it’s creative, making or doing something with your hands. It’s physical and experiential. Your whole body is involved, not just your mind. The key here is to access different parts of your brain besides cognition, or thought, because when we’re depressed, we get stuck in certain thought patterns. Mine was rock climbing 🙂

8. Volunteer Somewhere to Help Someone Less Fortunate. Get out of the narrow focus called “me-myself-and-I.” Best way to stop thinking about yourself? Think about someone else. Happy people are people who serve others. They are reminded that their glass is “half full” (not “half empty”) when they serve someone who’s got it worse than they do. Go find something like a convalescent home, a food kitchen, or a homeless shelter and get your hands dirty. One of my favorite quotes comes to mind, “someone is praying for the things you take for granted.”

9. Take Time to Play. Children know how to play. If you don’t remember, go hang out with a friend who has kids or observe kids in a park (without being creepy). They’re natural explorers and adventurers. As adults, we need more of that in our lives. So figure out a way to build play into your day. Play can include a walk through nature, a bike ride, a board game, or sports. The point is, it has to be fun. Be spontaneous. Be anti-boring. Be stupid. Think like a child and go have some fun!

What crazy simple activity has lifted you out of depression? Tell me about it in the comments below.

55 COMMENTS

  1. These are suggestions for someone who has had a bad day, not someone actually suffering from depression. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. See a doctor if you can.

    • Thank you! This article completely minimizes what millions of people are struggling with every day. There is a BIG difference between “the blues” and depression.

    • What you say is very true. The suggestions here are very general and more for people whose mood can be altered based on external factors. However, there is something to be said about DBT for certain anxiety disorders and even depressive symptoms. The problem is getting yourself motivated to do it when you are so depressed. It’s extremely hard.

      I know it sounds weird, but DBT really has helped me a lot, because it’s very proactive and helps cut down on all of the small things I do that, in the aggregate, erode my self image and were conducive to dangerous situations. However, I was nowhere prepared a few years ago to really give it my all because I was even more depressed than I am now. You’re right to suggest seeing a doctor, because that’s always the healthiest first step. Perhaps a combination of small tweaks to lifestyle, regular therapy sessions, and small tricks to help people stay on track are the way to go. Now, to tackle the problem of consistency that is so crucial to success in therapy… Depression and consistency are often very much at odds with each other all too often…

  2. Actually clinically proven now to help mild to moderate depression: physical exercise. Go for a brisk walk, even a short one. And the comment below is an important one; a blue mood is not the same thing as clinical depression. If you cannot get out of your “mood”and it persists, go see a doctor!

  3. What if you’re depressed because you are your paralyzed grandma’s caregiver because her 9 children couldn’t take care of her and her other 19 grandchildren or so wouldn’t?

  4. I started running too. Well, walking that eventually escalated into something faster. 🙂

    For #9: I took pictures of an object around town (next to weird statues, smelling flowers) that someone left at my house and wrote a whole story for them on facebook.

  5. Whenever I’m about to go off on an angry rant or I find myself about to launch a self-destructive inner monologue, I do it in a language I don’t know as well. This has been a tremendously helpful coping strategy for me!

    It accomplishes three things:
    1.) You lose steam faster than you would if you were ranting in your dominant language. This happens because it takes more focus and brain power to communicate in another language, which also gives your brain enough time to remind you that you probably look awfully silly trying to figure out ways to insult yourself in French in complete sentences.
    2.) The experience may even make you laugh. After all, you’re trying to crap on yourself and feel terrible about your situation while you’re grappling for words in Chinese. This makes me laugh every time. Now, if you’re the type of person who would then feel bad about not knowing that language well enough, don’t worry, because…
    3.) You’ve just spent at least a couple of minutes practicing a foreign language!

    I deem this a successful strategy because eventually, you will spend less time thinking poorly of yourself and more time developing other skills, like a language. You may then not even need to use this coping strategy because wasting time on negativity will no longer be an issue. If you don’t grow past this soon enough, however, at the very least you may develop greater fluency in that language, and may even need to start learning a new one so that you can once again cut back on the time you spend denigrating yourself. You should then consider an adventure to a country of native speakers for additional practice! That sounds like a lot of fun!

  6. Thanks for this. #7 is an especially good reminder. I made cookies and played jacks with a friend’s daughter (4yrs.) yesterday at my apartment. When we gathered our things to leave she said, “Tia, your house is beautiful.” She made me all glowy for the rest of the day.

  7. These are all great ways to to deal with feeling down, none of this will cure actual depression. For chronic, clinical depression (depression that lasts longer than 6 weeks and interferes with your ability to fulfill your responsibilities) SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP. You need counseling and very possibly medication that can help correct the chemical imbalance causing your struggles.
    Speaking as someone who has experienced depression, you should do all these things, sure, but don’t expect it to fix all your problems. Watching funny movies doesn’t actually make depression go away, professional treatment and behavior changes do.

  8. I’d journal but I always think my boyfriend will come across it and knit pick at some things I might say in it. Logically I know I should probably say the things I put in there to him but after five years of being together I still feel guarded like I don’t want to share certain stuff with him, simply because I just don’t think he’ll understand.

      • Then you may want to take a long look at the relationship…maybe it isn’t good for you. I was in a long term relationship with a guy that wasn’t understanding….I didn’t trust him with my feelings. it turned out bad…maybe do yourself a favor and find someone that you feel comfortable with on all levels, or they don’t really
        need to live with you. He made me feel isolated with him…thus not good for depression or the blues.

  9. What if someone is struggling for a job and get depressed, I think that person should do all 7 thing and apart from this one should findout the solution in a silence.

  10. These are things that along with getting professional help/medication can help with clinical depression AND with the blues!

  11. Push a good organic diet rich in nutrients, NOT chemical pharma-dependency which worsens symptoms and in some cases, causes the problems you’re trying to avoid. Physical activity/exercise is important, it releases the natural endorphins. And why hasn’t anyone mentioned prayer? Acknowledging that some things are bigger than us to handle and we need spiritual guidance?

  12. I do needlepoint to calm my anxiety and depression. Projects are tedious though knowing I will create something in the end in a good feeling.

  13. The premise of this post is ignorant. It’d be best to do your research before you post on a very serious and prevalent issue. Depression is not a case of “I had a hard day and I am inclined to stay in my jammies and wallow for the day.” To reduce it to something as simple as that patronizes the very real obstacle that many people face. Depression arises from a complex interaction of biological activities that create an imbalance in levels of neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, complications with mood regulation, and a number of other variables. If you’re depressed, seek professional help. This post should address a case of the Mondays, not an actual neurological disorder.

  14. This is a wonderful little article that might actually help someone I’m not sure why people are being negative on here. I was “diagnosed” with depression from a general practitioner at 19 (after going through a hard breakup) and prescribed heavy doses of SSRIs which seemed to help, but then completely changed my life for the worse! I developed an eating disorder dropped out of college and was even suicidal. It chemically messed up my serotonin levels permantely. If I had seen a therapists first and tried alternative methods, with medication as a last resort, I could have saved my self and my family a lot of heart ache. if you are depressed or are thinking about getting meds from a family doctor, please see a licensed therapist first!

  15. This article pisses me off. As a person personally suffering from depression it is insulting for people to say things like “cheer up,” “just be happy,” or “your life is too good to be depressed.” If there was some magical activity that you could do that would relieve you of depression then nobody would be depressed. Depression is a sickness. A mental illness. It is literally an imbalance of chemicals in your brain. As much as you would love to think that sleeping more, or doing something considered “happy” will help, it won’t. Depression takes away your will to do any of the things you love or used to love. Moving, breathing, going out – it all takes imense effort. Upbeat music pisses you off, seeing people have fun pisses you off, not having the motivation to get out of bed and perform the most mundane of tasks pisses you off. It is not something you snap out of. What I’m trying to convey here is F@*#k you for think so lightly of such a debilitating illness. It’s people like you that create the stigma of depression. Unless you’ve truly dealt with this illness I suggest you keep your mouth shut. Please and thank you.

    • Thankyou.
      I’ve had depression now for 7 years.
      I knew that this article was poop.

      But the reality of the illness you have given is true to the point.

      I also agree, I don’t think he has dealt with depression. It seems he just has downer days.

      Sleep only makes you not want to wake up.

    • I agree Kate. This guy seems to think being depressed is just about feeling sad and having bad days. He does not state any qualifications to advise on mental health issues, just his dubious claims to have suffered from depression himself. The advice he has given is ludicrous. At the height of my depression my family tried to distract me with games, funny movies Tec. This did not cure my depression. Medication, counselling and good support helped me. I feel his simplistic views show his ignorance about a complex and misunderstood disorder. I’m now depression free but have bad days like anyone else. There is a difference. To those who are truly suffering please seek professional help rather than relying on articles like this.

    • I agree depression is a sickness, and I myself have been diagnosed and do take medication for it as well. This article shouldn’t piss you off. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but sometimes people need a little more perspective on things before understanding them. So this is mine: Everyone is battling something in their lives, and those with depression know there is not an easy fix. But honestly, these tips are great ways to just improve your mood for an hour or a day when you realize you are down in the dumps, and want to try and change that. It took me a long time to realize how to cope with depression, and I have come such a long way. Its an everyday battle, and these types of things do help. I have a blog and I have written about some of them myself. But, the most important thing I have learned about diseases, particularly depression and addiction (experienced through my family) someone cannot/will not change unless they want to! Until someone puts in the efforts to at least TRY and change their life and outlook on things, its not gonna happen! These tips are just some great ways to get the ball rolling and hopefully change their mood for the day in the everyday battle of depression. THESE ARE NOT IGNORANT! Of course if someone is battling a mental illness, medication and counseling and support are key in getting better especially seeking professional health. These are just somethings someone can try on their own! However, this is just my opinion!

  16. Ok. This is a great article. For those of you claiming that these “fixes” are an insult to people who actually struggle with depression, and that depression is a “disease”– May I remind you that no one is born depressed. When it comes to chemical imbalances in the brain, correlation does not prove causation. Taking a victim mentality with regard to depression may be your problem. If you indulge in the guilty pleasure of sad music, dwell on what disappoints you, angers you, and makes you feel small or useless, things will never turn around. In the long term, you feel and experience what you think about (your own sense of self). If you decide that no matter how stupid it feels to you and no matter how angry or unaffected you feel initially, that each day you find a way to do something you enjoy with people who care for you, then things can turn around for you on the emotional level! Be strong! Make decisions! Meet challenges! Take responsibility! Do your best to show your love and appreciation for those who come alongside to help you! Never stop loving and believing in yourself! The mind is a curious and powerful thing.

    • You are just victim blaming here and projecting guilt over those who can’t cope with their lives at the moment. Depression is not a disease simple enough to be kicked off so easily. It takes time, it takes effort, and often help is necessary. “No one is born depressed”. Yeah. And noone is born ill, no one is born with cancer… it doesn’t make those any less real and difficult to cope with.
      I also feel like while this article is nice and could be a bit useful as inspiration for some, it is far from adressing the problem of real depression. It is obvious the author doesn’t know what it is.
      “Crazy simple ways to beat depression” simply do not exist !
      Unless you are talking about very mild or seasonal blues.

    • What if you have no family or real friends who care? Just suffer in your own isolation? My cat is my only companion seems people/population could care less.

  17. I think these are very good tips. Depressed or not depressed it seems to me that things would be beneficial to anyone. Thanks for the reminders. 🙂

  18. Although some of these things may help symptoms of depression, these are by no means a cure. Depression is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Medication may seem scary and dangerous to some, but it is a great option to deal with this imbalance. I encourage anyone with depression to try the things in this list, but do not expect depression to be cured. I have a problem with #8 mainly because no matter how much you have to be thankful for, money, family, friends, a great job, etc. depression does not care. The chemicals do not care. If you are suffering depression I recommended seeing a psychiatrist and also following these steps if they help you.

  19. These are all things that a mentally strong person would do to relieve a mild depression. When you are depressed, you have no motivation to do anything whatsoever. Depressed people believe they have no reason to get out of bed in the first place, let alone do these things. A real way to treat depression temporarily that is based on science, is sleep deprivation.
    Astrocytes, a star-shaped type of glial cell, regulate the brain
    chemicals involved in sleepiness. During our waking hours, astrocytes
    continuously release the neurotransmitter adenosine, which builds up in
    the brain and causes “sleep pressure,” the feeling of sleepiness and its
    related memory and attention impairments. The neurotransmitter causes
    this pressure by binding to adenosine receptors on the outside of
    neurons like a key fitting into a lock. As more adenosine builds up,
    more receptors are triggered, and the urge to sleep gets stronger.
    Adenosine buildup is responsible for the
    antidepressant effects of a lack of sleep. This finding points to a
    promising target for new drug development because it suggests that
    mimicking sleep deprivation chemically may offer the antidepressant
    benefits without the unwanted side effects of actually skipping sleep.
    Such an intervention could offer immediate relief from depression, in
    stark contrast with traditional antidepressants, which take six to eight
    weeks to kick in.

  20. I like these tips, but let’s be clear: these are not going to “beat” depression. Depression is an illness that requires regular treatment, therapy, and/or medication.

  21. I built a blanket fort with my boyfriend to watch Netflix in. It was child like, we had fun, it took my mind away from sad thoughts and it let me have a happy space for a while. We even slept in the blanket fort.

  22. I hope someone, who can help me can read this, I have been suffering from depression. I constantly feel down. I have two beautiful children a great husband, and a good job. But I believe my depression comes from my childhood and never feel a sense of a family. My parents divorced when we were very little. Yet, my father used to go home and in many occasions beat my mother in our present. My father was no very affectionate. My mother has recently died. Today, my two brothers and I are not very closed. We all live far away from each other. My mother never got to know her grandchildren. I do not have other relatives like grandparents or uncles etc. It is just my husband and my children. My husband does not have a big family, either, only his mother but she also live far away. It is frustrating, to feel like this when I should be happy to have now my own family, but I do not! I feel sad.

    • Don’t worry my prayer is very strong
      I will pray for you and definitely you be ver happly
      Just believe on me .

    • Your depression grows from your sense of insecurity and lack of trust in the notion of family. However it is curable. What your mother suffered has scarred you yetvyou mustcremember that it had nothing to do with you and you could have done nothing to help the situation. What you could not have you should tryvto give to your children and that is to be the best parent and strenghthen the bonds between your children. The way to snap out of this depression is to accept that your family is estranged and its better to have negativity and negative energy in life that includes your siblings. Try to start taking a walk or a jog everyday and try to make new friends. Find these friends by joining certain book or cause related clubs. Also if possible sponsor a child who is an orphan. They dont have family and have uncettain future. Give back something valuable to them like education etc. Also in ur case it would be nice if you volunteered at an old home and helped out or even just converse with older ladied. Perhaps u can form a family type bond with her you could not with your own blood. You can have family and friends type relations without blood ties too. Be grateful for what you have.

  23. This has been the worst advice i’ve ever read, and you should change the title to ‘how to kick a bad mood’ NOT escape ‘depression’ which is a serious mental illness.

    • No one said doing these things would be easy. I have and do suffer from clinical depression. I have been on and off meds for it. The truth is that if you never get up and into the world depression will haunt you forever. You may get rid of it for a while, but over time it will always come back. The only way to truly kick depression is to incorporate stuff like this. Activities that will stop you from beating yourself up, interactions with other people. It’s counter-intuitive, I know. But the brain is a wondrous muscle, and when we decide to override our default state and force ourselves to continue to engage in regular living we greatly increase the chances of naturally releasing dopamine. As scientists have been telling us for years dopamine is the “happy” chemical. All I’m trying to say is it’s always bleakest right before positivity comes.

  24. Those advices are bullshit and are obviously written by a person who never dealt with depression and most certainly has no academical knowledge about it. Yeah, I won’t feel guilty about the uncontrollable urge to curl and cry me to sleep. After all I am busy enough feeling guilty for existing.
    I’ll go out with my friends and all the guilt, pain and axiety simply will disappear.

  25. I don’t think what Dale says is unhelpful, they are little actions that when combined “could” help to show a bit of light when everything has been so dark. I’d never suffered depression before 6 years ago, previously always positive and out there doing anything and everything. I started with increased anxiety over a couple of years, I eventually crumpled into a deep long period of depression, unable to get out of bed for months for other than simple food and the bathroom…..my mind felt sticky like toffee and could not think straight nor appreciate this beautiful world like I had before, let alone tend to my lovely family.

    But with the help of some damn good friends who gently nurtured me to leave my house and join them on a mountain bike ride one sunny evening, created a tiny slit of light and hope….a little endorphin boost started a slow overall change…..I still remember the place I felt that change up in my local hills, because it probably saved my life, as I’d been experiencing a lot of suicidal thoughts until then.

    By pretty much following simple prompts like Dales that I either worked out for my self or with the help of friends it gradually improved things for me over a six month period to a point where I was happy again and far removed from where I had been. But since the the first bought of depression, it has now become a frequent visitor in my life and i have largely learnt how to spot a bout coming on and how to deal with it……in truth I am coming out of a short bout of it today and am ready to deal with the remnants by taking a 40 mile bike ride in the sun with a friend.

    I would also point out that, it all depends where you are when suffering a bought of depression and whether you are ready to move forward, to accept a glimmer of hope and see the sun again. Thats the tough bit, the bit we all hope to find in that time of want, but it’s not always there.

    I see my depression (when experiencing it) as being down the bottom of a deep dark shaft….looking up I see hundreds of rungs (hand hold steps) making their way up and out of the shaft. It’s only when I am ready to ascend those rungs, will things improve. Sometimes I will only ascend part way, enjoying only part light and loitering in it for a while, until finally emerging and completely free for a while.

    I also accept that lifestyle changes and acceptance can help improve things and that is really what Dale is alluding to….steps to help make things better.

    Good luck to all those out there suffering, it can be so deliberating, but there can be ways to steer yourself around it to handle it better. Love John

  26. I don’t think the problem is with the content of the article, but rather with the title. It’s missing the word “Help.” Every suggestion it offers up has it’s own merits working to re-engage a person with the world around them. Which, among other things, is what I believe depression robs you of.

  27. ive found that taking a nice bath,fixing my hair and applying a little lipstick changes my mood a great deal.

  28. I really really hate this article. Clearly actual research on depression wasn’t used. This is just the author’s tips on how to lighten your mood. It deals with the symptoms of depression and not with the actual cause of depression which is different for every single person. So please stop writing articles like this!! It makes depression, and any mental disorder really, seem like it’s so simple to “get over” when it’s not. If you are NOT A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL or DON’T DO ANY RESEARCH WHATSOEVER please please Please DO NOT GIVE ADVICE ON MENTAL HEALTH. It is NOT about simply changing your mood.
    I am actually studying psychology now as well BECAUSE of my depression and all these “tips” do not help with actual depression. Also, change the title. It’s not a race and depression may be something that a lot of people may never entirely move on from.

  29. I’ve started making pet accessories(pet tag silencers, bowties, ECT.) but I still struggle A lot. I’ve been trying to find a depression support group in my area.

  30. So relatable.
    1. I wake up somewhere between 4 to 6 am.
    2. I have the most craziest and funniest friend.
    3. I never touched alcohol nor smoke (incl. shishaw)
    4. I journal like 100 times a day in my mind. Makes me stress.
    5. I have got no time for movies. I only watch documentaries for knowledge if I have time. I am studying 4 A levels in college.
    6. I listen to all songs incl: sad, love, rock, hip hop, gaana, motivational etc… I stopped the sad songs but it didn’t work
    7. I draw, I edit pictures, I read books (so many books).
    8. I am volunteering in a museum.
    9. I play table tennis plus gym.

    And yet, I am the most depressed guy.
    Sorry for proving the whole 9 points in the blog wrong.

  31. this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about – I mean when you’re REAALLLYY depressed everyone should know that the best thing to do is dig yourself deeper into the hole by moaning constantly in chat rooms, taking mind-numbing drugs and slagging off people who don’t understand REAL depressed (class one, mega miserable) misery.

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