Reading Time: 12 minutes
Picture of a man who is depressed.A survey taken in January 2021 found that 41% of U.S. adults suffer from either an anxiety or a depression disorder. That’s up from just 11% in 2019.

That means there’s a lot of people experiencing depression and anxiety for the first time.

I happen to have been suffering from depression for a very long time. It’s there first thing in the morning but gets better throughout the day. By the time I go to bed, things feel okay.

Below are my 31 tips for combatting depression.

For people who aren’t depressed, some of these tips might seem a little obvious and routine but when you’re depressed, even the simplest things can feel impossible.

Note: These are just my personal tips from personal experience. If possible, you should seek help from a professional. If you have thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

1. Get Up Early.

When you’re depressed, it can be hard to get out of bed. It makes sense to the depressed brain to stay in bed ruminating on all the things that are making you depressed. That can make it even harder to get out of the slump you’re in.

If you get up early and start your day, that’ll keep you out of bed ruminating on things.

Plus, then you’ll start getting things done. Getting things done, one at a time, will help bring you out of your depression little bit by little bit.

2. Open the Blinds.

Getting sunlight can be essential for your mental health. People who get less sunlight in the winter have a higher incidence of S.A.D. S.A.D. stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it’s thought that a key reason people get it is reduced sunlight.

This can be more true for some conditions than for others. People suffering from bipolar disorder, in particular, are helped by getting sunlight. On top of that, getting it in the morning seems to be the most helpful.

It couldn’t hurt anything getting those blinds open letting those sunrays in as early as possible.

3. Exercise.

Exercise is one of those weird things where the benefits of it have been proven time and time again, but we just don’t want to do it.

While it can feel difficult to get up and go exercise, especially when everything feels too difficult, it can go a long way to helping pull you out of your slump.

Exercise gets your blood flowing, releases endorphins, and can make you feel better about yourself. Perhaps that’s why studies have shown that exercise can have an impact on alleviating some depression symptoms.

4. Keep the House Clean.

We’re on a roll here with things that feel impossible to do when you’re depressed but are, at the same time, things that can help you feel less depressed.

It’s so easy when you’re in a slump to let taking care of the house go, but that can make your depression worse. You’ll be sad and have messy surroundings. As you’ve probably noticed before, having messy surroundings can have a negative psychological effect.

Keeping the house clean will also help with your depression in two other ways:

  1. It’ll keep you busy.
  2. It’ll make you feel better about yourself.

5. Call Family.

I realize this might not be a great option for everybody, but if it’s at all possible, family can be a strong support system.

I know that for me, I wasn’t necessarily all that close to my family before I started having major mental health issues. After I became depressed, however, that changed. I started calling family a lot more.

Where I had previously had resentments or even anger for some family members, that melted away as I talked to them more. I started learning more about where they were coming from. It also gave me the chance to see the better side of them.

Again, I realize this might not be an ideal option for everybody, but for some people, it could not only make you feel better, it can help patch up rocky relationships.

6. Go Outside.

I get it. I’m not a big outdoorsy kind of person. The outside is scary. It’s full of spiders and rain and sometimes bears.

But, going outside is a good way to help pull yourself out of your slump, at least for a little bit. The sunshine and the trees are good for you. Moreover, you’ll be getting yourself out of the same scenery.

7. Do Thoughtful Things.

Do something for somebody else. Try to think of things throughout the day that might cheer other people up.

It can be as simple as writing a letter or sending someone a cute picture of something they like. Try to do as many as you have time for in a day.

Firstly, it’ll feel good to make someone else smile. Secondly, it might start a conversation with them, and socializing is a good tonic to fight off depression.

8. Don’t Do What Your Depressed Brain Wants to Do.

This isn’t always true. That said, it’s true more often than you might think.

Your depressed brain might tell you to lie in bed all day. Or, your depressed brain might tell you to think bad thoughts about yourself. Or, your depressed brain might tell you not to go hang out with your friends.

Sometimes our impulses tell us what we need, but other times our impulses are just that – impulses.

What your depressed brain thinks it wants might be the same things that are keeping you depressed.

9. Get Organized.

This goes back to keeping the house clean, but might be more important.

Sometimes when we’re depressed, it’s hard to keep our thinking straight. Things can quickly seem complicated and overwhelming. This can make your depression worse.

Keeping yourself organized gives you a helping hand later.

10. Commune with Dogs.

This will be super appealing for some people and not so appealing for other people.

If you happen to be a dog person, spending more time with dogs can be a real boon. Sometimes we can get really sucked into our own worlds and our own worries. Dogs can remind us about peace and happiness.

If you like dogs, take time to pay attention to the dogs around you.

11. Accept Yourself Where You Are.

It can be easy to be down on yourself for being depressed. Or for not being where you want in life that might be caused by the depression, or could lead to it.

Don’t try to fight yourself for things that are out of your control.

Accept that you are where you are and that you’re doing the best that you can.

12. Surround Yourself With Kind and Energetic People.

Kind people will help you accept yourself. They’re also a good ear to call when you’re feeling down.

Energetic people can help lift you up. Sometimes their energy might be a little much if you’re feeling rundown, but having that energy around you can help you get up and going, too.

If you can, find people who are energetic, but understanding of your condition.

13. Have Good Humor.

It can be really easy to get bogged down by life. It can be easy to see the negative in everything. It can be easy for everything to make us feel rundown and hopeless.

Sometimes, we’re able to change our attitude about things.

If we can see the humor in everyday things, we can help cheer ourselves up when we would’ve otherwise been feeling down. It can also make the blows easier to handle.

14. Meditate.

Take a few minutes out of each day that are truly for yourself to come back to your body.

Studies have shown that meditation can help with depression by changing your stress and fear response.

We have a whole post about alternative meditations you can do, but the simplest one is sitting meditation. To do this meditation, first set a timer on your phone. The timer can be for whatever amount of time you feel comfortable. That said, many people prefer to start with 5 – 10 minutes.

Secondly, close your eyes. Finally, focus on your breathing.

If it helps, as you breath in, say to yourself, “Breathing in, I’m aware of my in-breath.” Then, breathing out, say to yourself, “Breathing out, I’m aware of my out breath.”

Do this for the entirety of the time you’ve set aside for meditation and keep your mind clear. Practice everyday to get the biggest benefits.

15. Learn and Do Something New.

Take your mind off what’s bothering you by focusing on learning something new. This will also build up confidence and make you feel better about yourself.

Then, take yourself out of your old routine by doing something new.

If you’ve been in a particular routine and you’ve been depressed in that routine, part of the answer might be to get into a new routine. Or, at least make some small changes to your routine.

16. Find Activities to do with the People Who Matter to You.

My little sister really likes a particular book series. Every night as I’m getting ready for bed, I listen to that series through Audible. Then, as I’m crawling into bed, I text her what happened in the story that day.

It’s a really simple thing I can do while I’m brushing my teeth and it keeps us talking every day.

What are some simple things you can with the people you love? Socializing is an important part of helping alleviate depression symptoms. Find little ways to connect with the people around you. It doesn’t have to be anything major. The smallest things can sometimes mean the most to people.

17. Don’t Engage in Negative Self-Talk.

The depressed brain is sometimes skewed towards the negative. Even if there are negative things in your life, focusing on them is only going to make things worse.

Every time you find yourself saying something bad about yourself to yourself, just stop. Seriously. Just stop that train of thought and re-group.

Think about the most positive thing you could say about yourself and focus on that.

Nobody is all bad. Nobody is without having done some good things or having good qualities. Focus on those.

18. Listen to Music.

Here’s another thing research has found can help alleviate depression: listening to music.

Not only is music an effective treatment for depression, stress, anxiety, and other concerns, all kinds of music work. Research has found that even sad music can make people feel better.

Moreover, in the studies conducted, no adverse effects were reported from listening to more music. That is to say, it’s a low-risk treatment, as well.

19. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene.

Many depressed people also experience sleep disturbances, which can exacerbate the problem. Practicing good sleep hygiene is one more thing that can help you combat depression.

What does good sleep hygiene look like? A couple things:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Don’t spend time on your phone right before bed or immediately after waking up.
  • Don’t work in bed. Preferably, don’t even work in the same room as your bed.
  • Don’t stay in bed awake for more than 5-10 minutes.

20. Volunteer.

Volunteering is another great way to get out of your own head and feel good about yourself. It can also add to your knowledge base, making you feel more confident.

Finally, it has the added benefit of also getting you socializing with other people.

Studies have shown that volunteering can help people with both depression and anxiety, though the effects may be more pronounced in the elderly.

21. Floss.

This goes towards just generally taking care of yourself. It’s another thing that seems simple to everyone else but can actually be a big step for those suffering from depression. The little things you do in a day can make a big difference in how you feel about yourself. Also, every time you do something, it’s a form of distraction from the depressed feelings you have.

22. Get Things Done.

Make a to do list. In it, itemize as many steps in the process of doing things as possible. Instead of saying “Clean the House,” itemize:

  • Put the dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Run the dishwasher.
  • Clean off the counters.
  • Sweep the kitchen.
  • Sweep the bathroom.


Make each small step something you can cross off the list.

This is a more accurate view, anyway, because it reminds you of all the smaller steps you’ve taken to accomplish a larger goal.

23. Keep to a Schedule.

When you’re depressed, everything feels overwhelming. It can be easy to fall into a slump where you don’t want to do anything and doing anything feels impossible.

If you stick to a schedule of things you do every day, you don’t have to think about it. There’s less energy you have to spend on figuring out what to do.

When you stick to a schedule, you get up in the morning and you know what you’re supposed to do. No time for wallowing or ruminating.

24. Keep an Account of Things Done Today.

As you get things done, keep track of it. Cross things off your to do list and celebrate the little victories.

Keep a journal of what you’re accomplishing as well as a journal of good things that you experienced today. Depression isn’t always consistent. It can come and go.

Reflecting on a journal of your productive and happier days on days when you’re not feeling so great will help remind you that things will be better. You just have to get through today.

25. Eat Right.

I wrote an entire article on how certain foods can be good for your brain health. While writing it, I was surprised by how deficiencies in a lot of foods could lead to depression or other mental disorders.

Or rather, they didn’t necessarily lead to depression and such, but they were often highly correlated with them.

I know correlation doesn’t equal causation, but I thought it was good enough reason to make sure I’m getting more of certain nutrients in my diet. To be honest, I have been feeling better lately since I made the changes. It’s not magic, but it’s better than it was before.

Maybe it’ll help you, too.

26. Have Pep in Your Step. (Fake it ‘Till You Make it).

This might be a weird one, but it’s actually helped me more than a lot of the other things on this list. Not that those things aren’t helpful.

This is a weird psychological trick where acting like you’re in a better mood than you are can actually put you in a better mood than you’re in.

When it comes to things like smiling, this has scientific backing. Research has shown that smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, can actually make you feel better.

That’s because smiling releases such feel good molecules as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.

Here, having pep in your step isn’t necessarily something scientifically backed. It’s something that I’ve noticed personally.

When you’re depressed, you feel sluggish. You feel slow.

Usually when I’m depressed, I feel like I’m trying to move through water, not air. But having ‘pep’ in my step is something that almost instantly starts making me feel less depressed.

So, give it a try. Move quickly. Move with energy and enthusiasm.

Maybe in the future there will be research showing that this actually does the same thing as smiling.

27. Turn Off the News.

Turning off the news is such an important part of maintaining your mental health that it’s literally the first coping mechanism mentioned by the CDC on their page about managing stress during COVID-19.

As the CDC says, it’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be bad for your health.

Take a break every once in a while. That includes from social media. Try setting specific times of the day when you’ll tune in to the news and after that turn it off and do something else that takes your attention.

28. Be Deeply Present.

We talked about meditation earlier, but let’s talk about mindfulness now. Mindfulness is a type of meditation. When you’re mindful, you’re deeply in touch with the present moment.

Often, this involves focusing your attention on your senses – what you can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. It’s also being aware of your body.

As you go about your day, try to focus your whole attention on the present. Be deeply immersed in everything that’s happening in the now.

There’s an old trick in therapy sessions to count down with your senses. It goes like this:

  1. Name 5 things you can see.
  2. Name 4 things you can hear.
  3. Name 3 things you can feel.
  4. Name 2 things you can smell.
  5. Name 1 thing you can taste.

There are other techniques you can use to keep you deeply present in the current moment. This prevents your mind from dwelling on the past or racing forward to future anxieties. Bask in the here and now.

29. Be True. Trust That There are Other People Like You.

It’s easy to spend a lot of your life pretending. We all want to fit in. It’s a natural inclination. We talk and act in a way that’s consistent with everyone else.

What’s worse, we refuse to be vulnerable.

We put up these facades of toughness, or these facades of having everything together and sometimes it’s a lie. You can be surrounded by people, but if you feel like you’re lying, you can still be lonely.

One thing that can help with your depression is to just be honest with the people you trust.

30. Seek Treatment.

There are a lot of reasons why people might not want to seek treatment. You might think it’s shameful. You might feel like it’s too much of a hassle. Or, you might feel like you can’t afford it.

Whatever the reason may be, if it’s possible, you should absolutely seek treatment if you’re feeling depressed.

You might be surprised by what a difference it can make to talk to a professional therapist about what you’re going through. They’ll have lots of great advice as well as the ability to get you in touch with someone who can prescribe you medication that can help with chemical imbalances, which brings us to our final point…

31. Take Your Medication

If you seek treatment for your condition and receive medication for your depression, don’t skip taking it.

There are a couple reasons people do this and it’s never a good idea.

Firstly, medication can take a couple months to reach their maximum effectiveness. Some people start taking medication thinking it will change their feelings immediately, but it doesn’t work that way. It takes time. Sometimes people don’t realize this and stop taking their medication early before it’s had a chance to do its thing.

Secondly, sometimes when people are feeling better, they begin to think they don’t need their medication anymore. This is a classic problem that crops up again and again.

Stick to your medication plan as long as your prescriber advises.
There you have it. 31 Tips to Combat Depression during COVID-19 and beyond. Stay the course and take care of yourself. Your mental health matters – perhaps now more than ever.