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5 Coping Skills for Depression

A person lying on a sofa hugging a pillow with a sad look of their face.

On a bad day, people without depression are likely to say, “I’m just feeling down” or “I’m a little depressed today.” A person with depression feels that way every day. For them, it’s not merely a temporary sadness, but an ongoing battle to find joy in their daily lives.

The good thing about depression, like with any mental illness, is that there are ways to handle even the worst days. You may feel hollow, and the world may seem bleak, but implementing certain coping strategies can lessen the lingering effects of depression.

Below is our list of 5 coping skills for depression. Remember, these skills are not instant cures for your depression. Think of them instead as permanent practice skills. They’ll improve your mood the more you use them. Don’t shy away from incorporating them into your life on a regular basis.

1. Start (and Stay) Active

Overwhelming tiredness and a lack of motivation are two key depressive symptoms that prevent us from enjoying our favorite activities. Choosing to exercise, though it may be difficult at first, is more beneficial for our mental health than simply remaining stagnant.

Start small. Even 10 minutes of exercise can elevate your mood for two hours. Increase increments gradually.

Once you’ve begun enjoying your workout, stick with it. If 10 minutes a day every day for a week leaves you feeling refreshed, keep that up. It’s not about how much you do at each interval, but maintaining a schedule. Only then will your mood, and your spirit, improve.

2. Embrace your Religion

What do you believe in? Research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) regarding the coping styles of Pakistani patients found the majority of patients used religious coping to handle depression. Believing in something is the glue that holds us together and can give us the power to move forward during challenging times.

Without a strong belief, we tend to lose hope in our future. We get lost in the shuffle of bad experiences without realizing the purpose of those experiences. Only by looking through the lens of faith can we achieve divine understanding.

Choose to believe if something, no matter what it is. If nothing else, believe you can overcome depression.

3. Eat a Balanced Diet

We hear it all the time from our doctor, but a healthy diet can be a critical component of a depression-free lifestyle. Still, choosing to take everything you love off the menu may just depress you even more. As is often the case, eat what you love in moderation.

Carbs are not the enemy, they’re just consumed too much and too often. Try substituting a low-carb or fiber-rich bread for a piece of white bread every once in a while. Or swap side a side of fries for Vitamin C-rich broccoli. Fruits possess healthy sugars so dab an apple into some peanut rather than reach for that chocolate peanut butter snack.

Learn a new recipe. Experiment with spices. Try an international dish. Make dinner time exciting again, for your body and your mind.

4. Take One Step Toward your Goal

Do you feel that you are unable to reach your goals? Is this causing you to stay in bed and tell yourself you’ll never get what you want? Passive thinking like this causes us to believe we have no control over our lives. A mind that says “I can” fires us up and pushes us forward while a mind that says “I can’t” gives up on itself before it even tries.

What is one thing you can do today to achieve your goals? Start a website? Type a tweet? Read an article? Ask a friend? Just reaching out in some way, whether for help or for knowledge, moves us towards the things we want. Take small steps. Eventually, those steps add up. Once they do, you’ll find you’re closer to your goals than you think.

5. Use Multiple Paths

Positive changes to one’s life are never done in isolation. It takes a combination of choices sustained over a period of time that proves most effective. According to, there are six separate roads one can take towards a depression-free life:

  • The thoughts-and-actions path
  • The biology path
  • The relationship path
  • The lifestyle path
  • The spiritual path
  • The mindfulness path

Normally, we take one path to get to our destination. When it comes to depression, navigating these paths together leads to restoration. We need to analyze and change our negative thinking, learn our biological needs, engage in meaningful relationships with others, balance our daily tasks while still doing the things we love, connecting with our inner selves, and staying present in the moment. It may sound overwhelming, but integration, not isolation is what makes us truly free of depression.

If you suffer from depression, Real Life Counseling can help you get back on track. Our counselors provide inventive strategies and encouragement so that you can achieve your goals and move through your depressive symptoms. Contact us today!