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9 Crazy Simple Ways to Beat Depression

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.

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Comments

55 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Take a walk to the beach, even in the winter! If not too cold, collect some unique shells or beach wood.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

    2. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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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