If you are feeling a little down or depressed, it can seem like there is nothing you can do to improve your mood. That feeling of helplessness is actually a symptom of depression and it is useful to remind yourself that there are ways to decrease depression.
1. Get a pet - Extensive research demonstrates that people with pets are happier people. It is a great feeling to take care of something and to have it love you unconditionally. Dogs especially enhance mental health because they force you to get out of the house and get some exercise. Additionally, spending only 5 minutes a day petting a dog or cat has been shown to lower blood pressure.
2. Do something you love - Think of what activities bring you the most joy and relax you. If you are feeling unmotivated to get started on the activity, then commit to just a few small steps: get the art supplies out of the cabinet, lay everything you need on the counter, and spend just 3 minutes painting. Probably you will find that you do have the energy to continue on the project.
3. Call someone who is caring and encouraging - It is hard to reach out to others when you are blue, but social contact is a great alleviator of depression. If it is hard to think of anyone supportive in your life, then go somewhere to be around others: the movie theater, coffee shop, book store, mall or church service.
4. Keep a compliment file - Write down any compliments you can remember receiving lately. Also collect special cards or positive job performance reviews. Keep these things together to give yourself a boost when you are down
5. Exercise - It has been said that exercise releases endorphins which improve mood. There is some debate whether this is scientific fact, but studies show a definite connection between exercise and low rates of anxiety/depression.
6. Focus on the basics - Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after a warm shower? Simple actions to take care of yourself can make a big difference. Get out of bed, eat a healthy breakfast, shave, and dress nicely.
7. Be your own motivator - Set small goals to accomplish important tasks. If you feel overwhelmed because you have piles and piles of laundry around the house, then commit to just one load and grab that laundry basket to collect it. Or if you feel discouraged by job searching, then make just one phone call or send your resume to one place.
8. Change your vantage point - A different environment or change of routine might help improve your perspective on things. So do things backwards, take a new route to work, get out of the house for awhile, or spend some time outside.
9. Consider therapy - For depression that is recurrent and lasts for days, professional help is recommended. If you have health insurance, then call to ask about your coverage and providers in your area. Or check the phone book and call around to ask about rates for self-pay clients.
10. When it gets serious... If you are seriously and persistently depressed, then it is time to talk to your therapist or medical doctor, and medication could be necessary. If you are considering harming yourself or someone else, then call 911, visit the emergency room, or use a suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Also consider reading this useful guide: How to Know if You Need Therapy