I have battled depression for over fifteen years. Depression can make basic tasks seem overwhelming and just getting out of bed can be draining. We can all relate to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness but sometimes we can get so down, it’s hard to find a way out. So, I wanted to share nine creative ways to cope with symptoms of depression and I hope it helps you, especially on those dark days.
9 Creative Ways to Combat Depression
1. Go outside
Even if the weather is unpleasant, bundle up, grab an umbrella and take a walk. Soaking up vitamin D, breathing fresh air and feeling the grass between your toes are proven mood boosters. On the farm, animals need to be fed, watered, and tended to daily whether it’s pouring rain, sleet or snow. Even on the rough days, being outside can help make mundane farm chores not seem so daunting. Plus, I get to spend a lot of time snuggling with the animals, and they always know how to cheer me up.
Exercising does not have to be a 5k or a very strict routine. You can do yoga, weightlifting, bicycle riding, walking, hiking, dancing, rock climbing, swimming, even dog walking. Exercising outdoors can improve self-esteem and reduce feelings of depression, anger, and tension, according to published research in the Journal Extreme Physiology & Medicine in 2013.
Finding new ways to cope can be a lifelong challenge with chronic depression. I recently learned about gardening myself and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Gardening can include a few potted plants on an apartment terrace to a dozen or more raised garden beds. If you don’t have experience with gardening, start easy! You are doing gardening to reduce your anxiety, not add to it.
4. Learn to Cook/Cook Healthy Meals
Cooking not only benefits your body but also benefits your mind. Cooking can help improve your concentration, provide a sense of accomplishment, and boost your confidence. A 2017 research study found that the symptoms of people with moderate-to-severe depression improved when they received nutritional counseling sessions and ate a more healthful diet for 12 weeks. By limiting processed foods, junk food and increasing intake of healthy and whole foods, symptoms of depression improved enough to achieve remission criteria in more than 32% of the participants.
5. Start a Journal
Starting a daily journal routine can help deal with stress, depression and anxiety. It is a safe space for you to be vulnerable without judgment from others. Journaling can also help you to track your day to day symptoms and identify stressors and triggers. I recently learned about Bullet Journals through a friend on Instagram. Bullet journals are minimalist journals that help with organization and keep a running list of your daily habits, moods and day-to-day tasks. If you are interested in learning more about bullet journals, check out this book The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll.
6. Arts and Crafts
Crafting can help reduce anxiety, improve mood, and increase happiness, all of which can help fight depression. Crafting activities also build confidence and increase your self esteem. Examples of arts and crafts are coloring, knitting, crochet, pottery, painting, drawing, scrapbooking and photography are all creative ways to combat depression.
7. Foster or Adopt a Pet
Pets can improve your physical health and mental health. Research studies show animals can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Pets give unconditional love and can alleviate loneliness, create distractions, provide comfort and improve your overall mood. You can contact your local shelters and ask about their foster programs or adopt an animal and give them a second chance at life. If you would like to read more about how pets can improve your mental health, check out my blog post to learn more.
8. Online Support Group
Online support groups can be effective in managing symptoms of depression and anxiety be providing a safe place to vent your anger and frustrations with others that understand your feelings. Sometimes friends and family can be judgmental or add to stress instead of helping it. An online support group of people that are supportive and encouraging can make all the difference in your healing journey. Online support groups have also become very popular during the coronavirus pandemic.
Online support groups to check out:
ADAA Online Support Group https://adaa.org/adaa-online-support-group
Support Groups Central https://www.supportgroupscentral.com/index.cfm
9. Self Care
Little things that you enjoy such as a bubble bath or getting a massage can be great tools to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
A recent study of 45 people in Germany found that baths were a more effective mood booster than exercise. Getting a professional massage can also be effective. Not only will it get you out of the house, but can provide a safe place to rest physically and emotionally.
Put together a self-care kit of bath bombs, Epsom salt, essential oils, fuzzy socks or any items that make you feel more comfortable.
The reason I am so open about my mental health journey is because I know I am not alone. We all struggle with feelings of hopelessness and hopelessness at some point in our lives. I hope by sharing about my experiences that it may help someone else that is having a difficult time.
My creative outlets are blogging, photography, and now designing my own greeting card line. It’s how I use art to cope with my post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. Art therapy allows you to express your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Who knows, you may find creative talent you didn’t even know you had. If you think you could benefit from creative therapy, ask your mental health provider for more information.
Disclaimer: The information shared in this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.