11 Best Coping Mechanisms for Depression Symptoms

July 1, 2019

Dealing with depression is very difficult, but there are some things you can do to help you cope. Whether you want to meditate, exercise, or simply vent to a friend, these coping mechanisms for depression are highly effective and can complement your regular sessions with a therapist. Here is a list of 11 coping mechanisms to help you deal with depression:

1. Meditation

Meditation is one of the best coping mechanisms for depression. There are many ways to meditate. You can listen to a recorded voice as they guide you through breathing exercises. Another strategy is muscle relaxation. Begin by tensing and relaxing every large muscle group, starting with your hands and arms, going to the top of your head, and then working down.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness goes hand-in-hand with meditation. Mindfulness skills help you focus on one thing at a time in the present moment and by doing this you can better control and soothe your overwhelming emotions.

One way to practice mindfulness is to take inventory of your five senses throughout the day. What do I hear? What do I smell? What do I taste? What do I see? What do I feel (a stress ball, soft fabric, etc.)? This guides your thoughts back to the present and what is happening around you. There are also many apps to help you practice mindfulness, like Headspace.

3. Exercise

Exercise is proven to help battle depression. Although one of the last things you want to do when you’re depressed is exercise, the benefits are tenfold. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and takes your mind off your worries. Regular physical activity eases the symptoms of depression and helps you feel better.

4. Find or Create Some Purpose, Meaning or Value in the Pain

Even though it may be a struggle, focus on whatever positive aspects there are around you. Maybe your depression has led you to understand a friend, family member or co-worker better. Maybe through a shared experience, you were able to relate better to this person and share what works for you. Every bad situation has a silver lining, we just need to look for it.

5. Read a Book

Getting lost in a good book is a good way to cope with depression. Find a book that interests you or ask a friend with similar interests for a recommendation. While you read, you won’t be focusing on how you feel, and it could feel like a break from the outside world. Curl up under the covers and enjoy.

6. Take a Hot Bath or Shower

A nice hot bath or shower is always relaxing, and it’s one of the best coping mechanisms for depression that doesn’t require much effort. Often when we experience depression, our muscles become wound up and tight as a result. By soaking in a hot bath, or letting hot water run on you in the shower, you are helping your muscles loosen up. It’s also a great place to reflect, clear your head or practice being mindful.

7. Get a Pet

Pets offer comfort, companionship, and love. If depression makes you feel lonely, pets can help break that cycle. Pets also have a relaxing effect. It’s been scientifically proven that petting an animal can improve your mood by increasing oxytocin levels and reducing cortisol, the stress-related hormone.

8. Surround Yourself with Positive People

When you surround yourself with positive people, it’s hard not to catch the bug. Depression often leads us down a dark path, but this is a good way to get some of the light back in your life. Simply listening to them talk can have a positive effect on your mood. It can also be uplifting to you if you tell them how you’re feeling and they’re able to help you see meaning in the pain.

9. Get Out of the House

Being cooped up in the house doesn’t help anyone – much less someone with depression. Although it may be hard, push yourself to go outside, even if it’s for only 10 minutes. Go for a walk, go visit a family member or friend, go browse your favourite store, pick up your favourite snack, etc. You can go on a short vacation for a weekend or a cruise vacation for several weeks. Even a change of scenery can momentarily take your mind off things and make you feel a little better.

10. Work on Arts and Crafts

A little time working on arts and crafts can significantly reduce your depression or anxiety. Studies show that art allows you to forget about your condition for a while and allows you to focus on more positive aspects of your life. At the end of it, you will even feel productive.

11. Listen to Music

Listen to your favourite upbeat tunes. Like some of the other examples listed here, listening to music can put you in a different head space and help you see things a little differently. So bust out your cell phone, download a music app, fill it with your favourite songs and start listening.

Dealing with depression is a daily struggle, but hopefully, you can find comfort in some of these coping mechanisms.