March 12, 2020
Coping with depression can feel like an uphill battle as it saps your energy, motivation and self-esteem. Finding ways to climb out of a depressive episode is not easy, but understanding the illness and how it affects you specifically is the first step to being able to find the coping mechanisms that work best for you.
While spending time with trusted loved ones and going to therapy regularly are healthy ways to cope, sometimes depression makes you want to hide. Luckily, many things can help distract from the debilitating feelings of this mood disorder.
Outdoor Activities to Help With Depression
Getting outside in some fresh air is a great way to boost mood. Even just having a cup of coffee in your backyard will help. There are a lot of fun activities for depression that you can do outdoors by yourself, including the following.
- Taking a walk: Whether it comes in the form of a stroll through a park, a tour around your neighborhood or taking your pet for a walk, being outside and moving has shown to improve mood, thanks to the increased endorphins that come from physical activity.
- Riding a bike: Refocus your mind to pedaling and enjoy the endorphins from riding a bike. If bikes aren’t your thing, try rollerblading or skateboarding. Many cities also have bikes you can rent and drop off in different parts of town, which is an excellent way to explore a new neighborhood with little expense.
- Swimming: The beach can be an underrated spot, especially when it’s not summertime. Bring a book or some music along and spend a couple of hours swimming and relaxing in the sun. If the beach is inaccessible, see if your local community center has an outdoor swimming pool you can use.
- Reading in a park: Sometimes, being among a crowd of people can be comforting and make you feel less lonely and isolated. Sitting with a good book and maybe some small snacks in a park on a sunny day may be one of the best simple activities to fight depression.
- Gardening: Working with plants, especially with your hands, has proved to lessen the severity of depression. It helps you focus and keeps your mind from drifting to unhappy and unhelpful thoughts. Plus, the final products provide a sense of pride. You can start with a couple of plants on your windowsill or in your backyard. You can also look into renting a plot to garden in or volunteer with community gardens.
Indoor Activities to Help With Depression
Sometimes, depression makes it difficult to even leave the bed, let alone your house. While there are undeniable benefits to getting outside and interacting with loved ones, when you can’t muster up the energy for that, there are plenty of things to do when you’re depressed you can do at home.
Home is likely the place where you feel the most comfortable, but what to do when you’re depressed at home? Using your hands can help alleviate depression, since it often results in a final product you can take pride in. Some activities include the following.
- Cooking: Preparing a meal for yourself is an excellent way to keep busy, do something creative and have something tasty to eat at the end. Try new recipes or make old favorites. If you prefer baking, whip up a pie or a batch of your favorite cookies.
- Baths: There’s a reason baths are so luxurious, and part of that is because they make you so comfortable. Spending an hour with some bubbles, a good read and maybe even some candles can distract you and help your mind relax. It’s one of the simplest forms of self-care.
- Reading: Sometimes, there’s nothing better than getting lost in a good mystery book or spend some time learning about ancient history. Whatever your interest, there’s probably a book on it, and reading is a perfect way to distract yourself from unhappy thoughts while also stimulating your brain. Magazines, graphic novels, newspapers and comic books are also valid reading material.
- Arts and crafts: Creativity is an ideal way to express yourself, and it can help you do that even when you don’t intend to. Writing, pottery and sketching are some examples of creative outlets for depression. Paper crafts, like making cards, or needlework, like knitting or embroidery, help you focus on a detailed task that often requires your full attention, leaving little room for unhappy or harmful thoughts to take over.
- Games: Video games and old-fashioned puzzles are fun activities for depression that help you refocus your mind and also stimulate it. Casual video gaming has shown to reduce stress and lessen symptoms of depression. Both video games and puzzles require you to use problem-solving skills, which is a way to exercise your creativity.
- Chores: Believe it or not, some people find household chores to be calming and therapeutic. Washing dishes, dusting or reorganizing things allows you to refocus your mind and, in the case of reorganization, flexes your creativity as well.
Outside the Home
Being outdoors doesn’t necessarily require being in nature the whole time. Sometimes, just leaving the house and walking to the library or to your local coffee shop can boost your mood. There are also many things to do while depressed that allow you to leave your house without having to socialize much. Some common examples include the following.
- Get a massage: If baths don’t do anything for you, book a massage for yourself and allow a professional to help you relax, body and mind.
- Have a bite: Treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant. Bring a book along or request a seat by the window and do some people-watching while enjoying a delicious meal.
- See a movie: Going to the movies by yourself is an underrated activity, especially if you opt to go during the daytime, when multiplexes aren’t as busy. Get lost in a great movie or documentary, often in a theater that’s pretty much empty.
- Get cultured: If you feel you’re not artistic yourself, enrich your day by visiting an art gallery or museum and enjoy the work of others.
Therapy Activities for Adults With Depression
Science has proven the healing benefits of some activities, especially those that allow the mind to relax. Some of the best therapeutic things to do for depression include the following.
- Yoga: Since this ancient practice is a spiritual one at its core, the benefits of yoga go beyond physical. When you include yoga — and all its mindfulness practices — with your treatment for depression, like antidepressants and therapy, you will likely see an overall improvement in your physical and mental health.
- Meditation: Like yoga, meditation is an excellent way for you to learn how to relax your mind and efficiently refocus it.
- Coloring: Adult coloring books may seem like a fad, but they have legitimate value in treating depression. Allowing you to be creative, focused and occupied, adult coloring books soothe and bring peace of mind.
Get Professional Help for Depression
At Advanced Psychiatry Associates, we know how difficult it can be to navigate life with a mental illness like depression. That’s why we’re the only private, full-service facility in the Sacramento area to offer outpatient services, including managing medications and therapy.
Get in touch to schedule an appointment with us at any of our four locations in Folsom, Sacramento, Roseville and Elk Grove.