Knowing how to fight depression is key for optimal mental health and wellbeing. Feeling good is so important to every aspect in your life that some may say it’s the most important thing in the world. But so many things can come along to bump your mood down a peg or two that it’s important to have systems in place to battle back and feel good again.
It’s important to note that these methods are meant to help combat negative feelings, which left unchecked could result in a state of depression. Clinical depression requires medical attention from your doctor, and may be too severe for these methods to work.
Talk to your doctor if you have sustained symptoms that don’t go away throughout the day, and over a period of several days. These include:
Feeling sad, empty, or unhappy.
Being exceptionally irritable or easily frustrated.
Losing interest in things you used to find pleasurable.
Feeling drained, without enough energy to get through simple daily tasks.
Lack of mental focus and concentration.
Intense feelings of anxiety, worry, and uneasiness.
A change in your appetite, whether a reduction in your appetite or an bigger desire for food.
Fixated thoughts of death and suicide.
Fight Depression Naturally with 21 Different Methods
1. Get More Exercise
It doesn’t really matter what exercise you choose to do, just as long as you do it regularly. Many health experts suggest exercising at least 2-3 times per week, but if it’s something you truly enjoy it would be hard to stop yourself from doing it everyday.
You don’t have to pick an exercise that asks for total exertion, and many find that they are well-served by simply taking a long walk each day, either brisk or leisurely.
Getting more exercise helps not only in the moment you are doing the exercise, but also over the long term. If you’re more fit you’ll be less likely to feel depressed, and more likely to stay on the positive side of the fence more of the time.
The Bright Side: Feeling down and exercising are pretty much mutually exclusive. If the exercise you do doesn’t make you feel good, try others until you find one you look forward to.
2. Eat Healthy Foods
Throughout human history malnourishment has been one of the major causes of death and disease, so it’s important that you’re getting the right food into your body so you can feel your best.
We live in an age where it’s not the easiest thing in the world to eat right, with fast food and junk food dominating grocery stores and city streets. But if you’re trying to battle depression you’ll need to focus on feeding your body and mind foods that nourish it and help it cope with modern stresses.
Common sense is all you need to eat right, with fruits and vegetables being the number one healthy foods to eat to feel great and get the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients your brain needs. Be sure you’re eating plenty of those each day and observe how it helps improve your state of mind.
The Bright Side: Food plays a huge part in how you feel, so eat foods that make you feel good not just when you’re eating them, but afterward as well.
3. Get Better Sleep
Sleeping well is a great way to feel your best and keep a positive mentality throughout the day. If you’ve been cutting corners on your sleep or getting irregular sleep, it could be contributing to your depressed state of mind.
The catch-22 is that depression can cause you to lose sleep, the very thing that would make you feel better. If you have trouble getting to sleep because of a racing mind, try using a natural sleep remedy to get back to a normal cycle.
Note that more sleep does not equal better sleep. Set up your sleeping quarters so they’re extra dark and quiet, and don’t push past natural sleep indicators when bedtime approaches.
The Bright Side: It’s hard to stay positive when you’re not getting enough sleep. Improper sleep can lead to irritability and moodiness. Get to bed early and wake up early for the best outlook on the day.
4. Schedule Fun Into Your Day
One way to get yourself into a funk is to pile a bunch of work on your to-do list until you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Avoid adding too much to your plate by making sure there are fun things on the docket for each day. This includes taking time out to read a book you enjoy, watch your favorite television show or movie, or just hang out with friends or loved ones.
It restores balance to your life and keeps you motivated to accomplish the things you need to get done. You’ll be surprised at how your improved attitude makes your work seem more enjoyable.
The Bright Side: It’s no fun to look at a day full of nothing but work, toil, and tasks to complete. Always schedule in at least one fun thing to do. Psychologically it tells the brain that life isn’t just a plateful of spinach, you get to have dessert too!
5. Start a Hobby
It’s never too late to start a hobby if you don’t have one already, and it’s a very effective method for keeping your mind interested in something you enjoy. You can really lose yourself in a favorite hobby, and it puts your energy into a productive endeavor.
A hobby doesn’t have to be something classic like stamp collecting or crocheting, it can be anything that relaxes you or makes you feel good while doing it. More cerebral hobbies include writing, and playing a musical instrument, and if you wanted to involve your body more you can do yoga or take up hiking.
The sole factor when choosing a hobby is how it makes you feel. Pick one that gives you the best feelings both before, during, and after doing it.
The Bright Side: An engaged mind is typically a happy one. Fill unused hours with a hobby you enjoy and you won’t have time to focus on the things that bring you down.
6. Take on a Challenge
It’s sometimes easy to avoid a challenge and stick to things that you’re familiar with, but that can get a bit boring for the brain, which can spiral into feelings of discontentment. Be sure that the brain is getting enough of a workout by taking on projects that put you out of your comfort zone a bit.
When it comes to the brain, if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking. So keep it on its toes by giving it tasks it’s not used to.
A challenge doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and doesn’t have to be something you feel like you can’t do. It should be something new that you haven’t tried before so that you can keep the brain’s neural pathways guessing.
The Bright Side: Give the brain just enough of a challenge so that you feel excited and engaged, but not so much that you get overwhelmed and discouraged.
7. Plan Fun Things for the Near Future
If there’s nothing on the horizon for you to look forward to, it’s easy to get bogged down in negative thoughts, which can spiral into a depressed state.
Take vacations in places that interest you and get you excited when you think about being there. They don’t have to be exotic or cost a fortune, as long as they sound like they’d be a blast for you. Organize it so you can have your favorite people join you so you can have the best time possible.
Something as simple as a road trip stopping off at fun side stops can work wonders at giving you a trip to look forward to, as well as memories to reflect on once it’s over.
The Bright Side: Plan trips and vacations so that you always have something to look forward to. They don’t have to be elaborate, but they should get your fire going.
8. Try Natural Supplements
Several all-natural supplements have been discovered to act as an antidepressant, improve your ability to focus and feel happy and relaxed, as well as be able to sleep better. These could be just the thing you need in order to tip the balance back to the positive side of life.
For clinical depression most doctors will prescribe an antidepressant. These are powerful drugs that work directly on the brain to change the way it functions. If you haven’t been diagnosed with depression and are simply trying to prevent it, natural supplements make a much better alternative than prescription drugs.
Popular choices include St. John’s Wort, fish oil, melatonin, and folic acid. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any sort of supplementation, even though it’s natural. They may interact with medications you’re currently taking, and they do come with their own side effects.
The Bright Side: Nature has provided us with different herbs and spices that can help the body and brain relax and feel better.
9. Get a Pet (or Borrow Someone Else’s)
It’s been proven that pets help lower blood pressure and can go a long way in making you feel better. They may be a bit of work
If you already have a pet, make it a point to interact with it more. They’ll love you for it, and you’ll experience the benefits of
One way to get all of the benefits of pet ownership with none of the work or responsibility is to pet or play with a friend or family member’s pet. Offer to pet sit whenever you get the chance, and give them a lot of attention.
The Bright Side: It’s hard to feel bad when you’re petting a cat or playing with a dog. Consider getting a pet if it makes sense, or set up play dates with a friend that has one.
10. Get More Sunlight
If you live in an area with harsh, long winters full of gray skies and lots of snow and bitter cold wind, you may be suffering from mild to severe Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sunlight can help improve your mood, and it also produces Vitamin D naturally in the body.
Science is proving what we’ve already known intuitively, that sunny days make you feel good, and cloudy days make it more of a struggle to feel that way. You actually produce more serotonin, the feel good chemical in the body when the sun is out.
Keep in mind that during the winter months you’ll need to get out and get the sun when it’s at its strongest point, rather than avoiding these times in the summer months when it’s too harsh at these times.
The Bright Side: Exposure to sunlight gets the body to make Vitamin D, also known as the Happy Vitamin. It doesn’t take a lot of exposure, but make an effort to get regular sunshine, especially during seasons when the sun isn’t shining as much.
11. Eat Dark Chocolate
This might be the yummiest way to make yourself feel better, and lift your mood when you’re feeling less than optimal. It can be a delicious part of your daily routine, and is good for your physical health as well.
You’ll be helping your body with its serotonin levels by eating dark chocolate, plus it’s full of antioxidants, so it will help your overall health and wellbeing, making it a great addition to your daily diet.
Just remember that too much of a good thing can bring you back to feeling bad, so eat just enough chocolate so that you feel good without regretting eating too much. An ounce of dark chocolate each day seems to be the magic dose.
The Bright Side: Chocolate = Happy for many chocoholics, and there’s actually science behind why it makes us feel good. No need to go overboard, even a modest serving will be effective.
12. Try Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has been used for centuries as a way to improve mood, relax, focus better, and more, depending on which oils are used..
This is one of the most natural ways you can use to fight depression, as each essential oil is extracted from an herb, flower, or plant and is free of chemicals, preservatives, and other additives. Be sure to source your essential oils carefully and choose the best ones possible.
Some of the most common oils used to treat depression with aromatherapy include lavender, jasmine, and sandalwood. You might find that some oils work better than others, and that the most popular oils don’t have an effect on you. Each of us is different so it requires a little trial and error.
The Bright Side: It’s amazing that your mood and mental state can be altered by breathing in certain aromas. Research different oils and scents and use those which you feel will make the most difference in your life.
13. Use Colors Wisely
It’s long been noted that the colors you use to paint interior spaces in your home can have an effect on the way you feel. Take an inventory of the places you spend the most time indoors, and assess whether the colors are playing a part in your negative thinking.
If you know that there are particular rooms in your home or in your office that don’t make you feel good, consider the color they’re painted and determine whether this is contributing to those feelings.
Test out different colors at the paint store and choose brighter, cheerier colors that make you feel calm, relaxed, or just plain good.
The Bright Side: The colors you surround yourself can work subconsciously on your feelings. Be sure to choose colors that make you feel good, and repaint rooms that lead to negative feelings.
14. Get Outdoors
Getting back to nature from time to time is important for mental health, as it brings us back to a more primal way of thinking and gets us out of the hectic modern lifestyle we live in.
There’s something about being outside, regardless of the reason or context, that just feels good, and can be just the thing you need to get a fresh perspective on a problem you’re dealing with, or a dark thought you’ve been caught up in.
You don’t have to rough it in the woods to get the benefits of fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. A simple walk in a park can work wonders on your attitude and zest for life.
The Bright Side: The simple act of going outside provides a burst of fresh air and hopefully some exercise in the sunshine. This is a sort of feel good cocktail and can really help you feel good for the rest of the day.
15. Avoid Using Alcohol or Recreational Drugs
While it may be tempting to cover up depressed feelings with drugs and alcohol, it’s not the most productive way of dealing with what’s bothering you.
Whenever the effects wear off from whatever you take, your problems will still be waiting for you, and you won’t have gained any new perspective on them the way you will if you use better methods of feeling good. While herbal drugs like marijuana and alcohol like beer and wine may seem like natural methods, they only work for the short term and have side effects associated with them that don’t make them good candidates for a solution to depression.
If you can’t get to the root of the problem, and the other methods of battling depression listed on this page aren’t working out for you, it could be time to talk to your doctor about what you can do for treatment.
The Bright Side: These are only short term fixes, and won’t provide any lasting good feelings. Look for a more permanent solution by choosing healthier, life-promoting methods of feeling good.
16. Get Into a Routine (or Out of One)
Adding structure and a routine to your day is one way to keep your mind focused on things you like, rather than letting it wander to things you don’t want to think about.
Adding exercise, a hobby, or time to pamper yourself to your daily routine makes it so you move from one fun thing to the next, which makes it harder and harder for your brain to have time to dwell on topics that bring you down.
At the same time, your current routine could be keeping you in a holding pattern of negative thoughts. If that’s the case you should make it a point to change up your routine until it makes you feel good, and then stick to that new routine.
The Bright Side: Setting a routine for yourself can make it easier to get through your day feeling good. On the contrary, if you routinely beat yourself up you might want to shake things up a bit.
17. Learn a Second Language
Learning a second language has such a positive effect on the brain that it can’t be overlooked as a way to help diffuse a depressed attitude.
Your brain actually grows when you start learning how to speak in a different language As an added bonus it can even help you long-term by helping you avoid conditions like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. That benefit alone can help you feel better about the future and be more positive today.
On an interesting side note you may even find that you are able to articulate better in your first language when you learn a second language, which can also improve the way you feel by improving your interactions with others.
The Bright Side: Being able to express yourself in another language can help you be more creative and less frustrated, which ultimately will make you more happy.
18. Play a Sport
Watching sports can be fun, but it’s nothing compared to getting involved in a sport that you love. It is a way to interact with others, gets you outside, and gets you moving, helping to release and blocked up negative energy within the body.
Team sports will give your competitive side a release, while at the same time it gets you playing with others in a low-stress, fun environment. If you spend a lot of time alone at your job and find that you don’t have a lot of meaningful interactions with others, sports can help bring that back into your life.
Tailor your sport to your lifestyle. If your job has you interacting with others and you just want some alone time, take up a sport like bowling or invest in a cross-training product like an elliptical bike for a low-impact, fun way to prepare for a wide range of sports.
The Bright Side: Playing a sport means you’ll be getting exercise built right in!
19. Avoid Getting Overwhelmed
Being overwhelmed is one of the most often cited reasons for feeling lousy. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by keeping your thoughts on the future and all of the things that come with it. It’s also easy to take on too much and overload yourself to the point of feeling hopeless about the situation you’re in.
By keeping your focus on the present moment, and dealing effectively with the task at hand, you can avoid the sweeping feeling of being overwhelmed.
Break big projects up into smaller, more manageable tasks, and put your attention on doing those tasks well. Not only will this make you feel better about being able to accomplish the project, but it will result in a more polished finished product, which also feels good.
The Bright Side: Overwhelming yourself with a big task that seems insurmountable is a sure way to start feeling down and hopeless. Remember that you can only get one thing done at a time and start taking small steps towards that bigger goal.
20. Pamper Yourself
It’s important to remember to be good to yourself, and it’s easy to forget to do so. Your body and mind go through a lot each day, so take some time to recharge your batteries, and remind yourself that there’s pleasure to be had with each new day.
You can schedule a weekly or monthly massage or spa visit, hire a housekeeper once a week to free you from having to do so much around the house, or get a handyman to come and fix things that you would otherwise have to spend your free time doing.
Some free and low cost ways to pamper yourself include taking a hot bath with aromatherapy candles or oils burning, making sure you make your favorite meal on a regular basis, or simply cozying up with a book by your favorite author.
The Bright Side: If no one else is offering to pamper you, pamper yourself! It’s a great way to have a little me time and to focus on how much you have to be thankful for. It’s hard to feel depressed and grateful at the same time.
21. Lighten Up
In all likelihood, if you’re not feeling happy and excited about life you’re probably being too hard on yourself. It’s good to be your biggest critic and demand the best from yourself, but not when it becomes counterproductive and starts making you feel bad.
While it’s easy to tell yourself to lighten up, this can quickly become more belittling if you do it in a harsh or frustrated manner. Easy ways to lighten up is to laugh more, and make it a point to seek out things that make you laugh. It’s better than getting on yourself for not lightening up quick enough, or good enough, or light enough.
Once you start to take it a bit easier on yourself you’ll see that it becomes easier to do as you go along. You’ll be able to bring a light-hearted attitude to situations that would have made you feel crummy in the past.
The Bright Side: Don’t be so hard on yourself! If you find that you’re stuck in a pattern of internal belittling, try any of the other 20 methods listed above to break up the negative pattern.