8 Activities To Help You Combat Depression

Depression is not a disease you can see. It cannot be seen with the naked eye and most people may not know if their loved one is depressed. Depression can be best described as a sadness that overcomes you and lasts longer than usual. For example, vacation blues are normal and they may last only a day or two. Depression on the other hand affects your life in general and lasts for more than just a few weeks or months. It can actually last for years, making everyday tasks very difficult to accomplish.  

But there are ways to overcome depression, and one of the best ways to do this is through a steady routine of exercise and activities. Exercise has been scientifically proven to be one of the best ways to combat depression and anxiety. So, if you’re feeling down or anxious, try some of these easy-to-do activities that will help you take your mind off things.

1. Go for a walk

Whether you’re trying to get a handle on symptoms of anxiety or working to overcome depression, walking is an easy and effective way to improve your mood. Even if you’ve been inactive for years, getting out and walking even a few times a week can make a big difference.

A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine analyzed data from more than 33,000 adults who participated in the National Health Interview Survey. The researchers found that people who reported walking for less than an hour per week were significantly more likely to be depressed than those who walked for more than two hours per week. And these results held up even after the researchers accounted for other factors that could affect depression risk, including age, gender, race and ethnicity, education level, body mass index (BMI), smoking status and chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

It’s not clear why walking reduces depression risk. But a number of studies have linked physical activity to lower levels of depression and improved mental well-being. Other studies have found that exercise can help relieve the symptoms of depression in people who already have the condition.

2. Play with your pet

Animals can be wonderful sources of comfort and companionship, especially when you’re feeling alone and sad. In fact, research has shown that pets can provide relief from depression symptoms and improve mood.

They could be your best friend, a trusted confidante and a source of unending happiness.

People who live alone may not have anyone to talk to or share their feelings. Your cat or dog can be the perfect companion in such situations. You can share your secrets with them and they will listen patiently and never judge you. They will love you unconditionally, no matter what. Playing with them and engaging in physical activity can help release endorphins that are released when we are happy or excited.

3. Call a friend

Talking with someone who cares about you can help relieve stress and improve your mood, even if they’re not able to offer advice or solve the problem at hand. Sometimes just sharing what’s troubling you or getting another perspective can be helpful. 

“Depression is an isolating disorder,” says Melissa Robinson-Brown, clinical director for LifeStance Health in Illinois. “It’s hard for someone who isn’t depressed to understand what depression feels like.”

Having someone who understands what you’re going through can help you feel less alone. And if you lean on your friends when you’re depressed, they’ll be more likely to understand how it feels when they’re feeling down.

4. Ride a bike

If you’re not already a cyclist, consider the health and happiness benefits of riding your bike. Research shows that cycling can improve your mood, reduce stress levels and even help prevent depression. With a bicycle, you can liberate yourself from traffic jams and public transport delays, while also improving your health and shedding a few pounds.

Here’s some science behind why riding a bike will help you combat depression.

Fresh air

Cycling is an outdoor activity — so no matter what the weather is doing, you have to get outside to pedal your bike. Researchers have found that outdoor exercise offers mental health benefits far greater than what indoor exercise can provide.

Endorphins

Cycling releases endorphins in the brain — these are chemicals that make you feel happier and relaxed. In fact, according to research conducted by the University of Brunel in London, this feeling is much more intense than if you were running at the same speed as on a bike.

Social interaction

Cycling can be enjoyed alone or with others, but riding with friends or colleagues increases motivation and decreases stress. The natural endorphin release from cycling will also encourage social interaction, as it creates a happy feeling inside you.

5. Clean your living space

Having a clean and organized space can do wonders for your mental health.  In addition to the obvious benefits of being able to find things, it also helps to break down goals into smaller, more manageable tasks and ultimately keep you on track.

In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with information, a clean space can help us regain our focus and feel more in control of our lives.  There’s something about a fresh, clean space that makes us feel good.  When we can eliminate distractions and get organized, we can focus on what’s important.

Hoarding is often an indicator of depression, which is why cleaning up your space can help fight it.  Depression can be debilitating and even life threatening, but there are ways to treat it and manage its symptoms.

6. Listen to music

Music has been used to help treat depression for a long time. In fact, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, music is an effective alternative treatment against depression.

The study found that people who listened to 30 minutes of personal music daily for three weeks reported a reduction in their symptoms of depression and stress. Those who listened to soothing music also showed improvements in their sleep quality and reported feeling calmer after listening to their favorite tunes.

Listening to music is generally safe, though it can be distracting if you’re trying to concentrate or relax. 

7. Read a book

Reading a book keeps you focused on something else. When feeling depressed it can be hard to focus and concentrate on anything but your negative thoughts. When you read a book it forces you to focus on the pages in front of you and not your negative thoughts. It’s almost like having an out of body experience, because you’re transported into someone else’s world through the written words on the page. This can help alleviate some of your stress, allowing you to relax and feel better.

Reading a book gives you an escape from reality. When depressed all you really want to do is escape your pain and get away from it all. This also allows you to do just that as it takes you into another world far away from your current problems at home or work. 

8. Take up knitting or crochet

Crochet is a skill-based craft, and it involves using a crochet hook to create loops out of yarn or thread. This technique can make fabric, clothes, household items like blankets and rugs, and even small toys. You can use various kinds of yarns to create different patterns.

Crochet has been shown to be beneficial for those suffering from anxiety or depression. That’s because it reduces stress by calming down the brain. To understand this better, let me introduce you to the term “flow state.” It refers to a mental state that occurs when an individual is fully absorbed in an activity. It gives the person a sense of purpose and provides a sense of contentment.

The repetitive action involved in crocheting is similar to meditation (and it’s actually known as “crochet meditation”). So, if you’re feeling stressed or depressed, pick up your crochet hook and get going!

It’s important to remember that while these activities may not always directly improve your mood, they can help you to stay busy, make sure that you’re staying as active as possible, and have fun! Treating depression is going to be different for everyone, so although these tips should help many people, there’s no guarantee that they’ll work for everyone. If you feel like you need more information on how to treat or manage your depression or other mental health issues, please seek help from a medical professional.