18 Action Steps to Manage Depression

Ever since my later years of elementary school I struggled to fit in or be happy with my daily outcome. I am writing this because maybe someone else shared a similar struggle in their lifetime. My aim is to inspire others to take action and change for the better, little by little. Here are 18 steps I’ve found to help with depression and anxiety.

1. Sunlight
The sun is rising. You’re still in bed. Get up. Now. But you can’t. For some reason you cannot move an arm, leg or even a muscle to start the day and enjoy the fresh air. Something about the sunlight helps my mood – call it vitamin D and the sheer beauty of a lit sky.

2. Exercise
Walk to the fridge. Good. Walk to your door. Great. Now leave your box. Walk to the end of the driveway. Walk to the mailbox. You get the point. Start moving. Start your heartbeat. Work to the point where you are exercising 4 times a week, for 30 minutes each session, and you will experience the benefits that even medications couldn’t provide. Stay with your exercise, and choose something you enjoy. Find a friend and do weekly walking rhythms – stay accountable for each other.

3. Open windows
Fresh air. Your box gets stuffy with closed windows, making it challenging to breathe under your covers. Open a window and breathe in.

4. Social connection
Call someone right now. Or email. Or text. Reach out to someone and ask them how their day was. Ask them if they have plans for the weekend. Ask them how their weekend was. Just start a basic dialogue. Say hi. Humans yearn for connection – start now, take the initiative and stop waiting for others to talk to you.

5. Support mechanism
Find someone or something to bounce ideas and thoughts off of. Hold onto that person – coworker, friend, family member, higher power. Find someone who will listen and help at a moment’s notice.

6. Hobbies
If you’re too busy, you’re likely not worried about how you feel. Get busy doing something you love, and you’ll likely be helping others with your enthusiasm. Write a blog, knit your ideal beanie cap, start a simple business adventure – when you’re feeling down, pick up what helps you pass the time.

7. Purpose
Why are you here? A life with purpose is exponentially more powerful than a scattered life. Think about why you’re here everyday, and try to get closer to what that purpose is.

8. Surroundings
Sometimes your surroundings are affecting your ability to be exceptional. Maybe a change of scenery would do you good, and give you a new outlook on your life. Do not burn bridges on the way out – let your loved ones know you’re changing your surroundings for a new life path, a new adventure.

9. Omega-3
Foods rich in omega-3 help with brain function. More omega-3 in your diet, found in foods like fish, walnuts and chia seeds, will help with depressive thoughts.

10. Anti-thinking
Chances are you have more negative thoughts than positive coursing through your brain if you’re depressive. Recognize your patterns of thought, keep a journal and try to understand the root of where these thoughts are flowing. Try to replace with one positive thought at a time.

11. Outside-box
Leave the box that is your home. Get outside of it, break your comfort zone to build your resilience to demons. The next time you’re knocked down, you’ll be able to stand up quicker from experiencing those previous punches of discomfort.

12. Lights
Turn the lights on in your box. Don’t wallow in the darkness.

13. Paint
Do something with your walls. Be creative. Liven your box up a little. Make it human to live there.

14. Laughter
Nothing like Happy Gilmore to cheer you up. Just start smiling right now. Then just start laughing. Some people will think you’re crazy, but 100% will be jealous because they aren’t laughing as hard as you.

15. Yourself
Be yourself, everyone else is taken. Stop trying to be what others think you should be/have/do. Take control and design the kind of person you know best: you.

16. Fun weekends
If you’re not planning for the weekend, you’re planning to fail at this whole happiness thing. Go shopping. Do errands. Re-organize your house. Do not sit still.

17. Habits/Rhythms
Build good habits. Do 30-day habit challenges. Tackle a new habit every month.

18. Breathe
Just breathe in and out. 10 seconds in. 10 seconds out. Repeat 10 times. Calm yourself down.