Self-help strategies for depression

Self-help strategies for depression can be really effective tools for improving mood. Find out more about different strategies people can use to manage depression, and what to do if you are still finding your symptoms hard to control.

This can help with:

  • Boosting your mood
  • Stress relief
  • Developing coping strategies
  • Dealing with depression symptoms day to day

Why self-help strategies for depression are useful

Along with seeking  treatment to manage depression there are a number of things you can do that may help you in overcoming depression. Developing self-help strategies to manage your depression in day to day life can make a huge difference to how well you are able to cope with your symptoms.

Self-help strategies for depression


  • Track your thoughts by writing them down. It’s a good way to express your feelings, and it can also help you figure out which thoughts make you feel worse.

  • Learn relaxation. Relaxation is great for reducing stress.

  • Go easy on alcohol and drugs. If you’re using alcohol and drugs to cope, you could actually make your symptoms worse, both while you’re using them, and in the long run. 

  • Eat well, keep active. It can make a difference to your energy levels, and helps stimulate hormones (like endorphins) that help you feel better about yourself.

  • Take some time out to do things you enjoy. When you’re feeling down it can make it really hard to get motivated to socialise and do things. Try and make yourself do one thing you usually enjoy each day.

  • Learn something new. Developing new skills and achieving things lifts your mood.

  • Get back into nature. There’s research that shows that when you have contact with pets, plants, gardens, parks etc., it reduces stress and boosts your mood. Go for a walk outside.

  • Talk to someone you trust. Talking to a family member or friend is a great opportunity for you to express how you’re feeling. They can also provide you an outsider’s opinion on what’s going on.

  • Join a support group. It can be really helpful to talk to people who have gone through similar experiences. Check out key services for help with depression for more info.


  • Learn positive coping strategies. See our fact sheet on building better coping skills for more info.

  • Set small goals. Don’t expect a ridiculous amount of yourself; it could make you feel down if you can’t meet your expectations. Set yourself small goals and take things one step at a time. See the goal setting fact sheet for more info. 

  • Develop a healthy sleep routine. Sleep has a huge effect on our physical and emotional health. Get some tips to help you get into a sleeping routine.

  • Exercise regularly and maintain a balanced diet. There is a huge number of benefits associated with exercise and a good diet. Start small and work towards having an exercise routine and balanced diet set in place.  

If these aren’t helping

If you are using a few of the strategies above but you’re finding your depression symptoms a bit overwhelming, go and see your doctor or mental health professional. It could be as simple as a particular strategy not being right for you, but it’ll be easier to work out how to overcome depression if you have help. Your doctor will have suggestions for alternative things you can try to help manage your depression day to day, and will be able to assess if you need to change your medication or get further help. It can be hard to know where to find the right support you need. ReachOut NextStep is an anonymous online tool that recommends relevant support options based on what you want help with.   
Try ReachOut NextStep to learn about the support options available for you.

If you want to hear from others, watch this 3 minute video about how young people cope with feeling down. 

What can I do now?


Last reviewed: 05 April, 2016
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