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Depression is something that affects millions of people to varying degrees. If you are suffering from mild depression, you don’t necessarily need expensive medications or hourly visits with a therapist. There are ways to kick yourself back into gear, with hardly any effort and minimal, if any, expense.

  • Go outside. You don’t have to run or exercise. You don’t have to stand in the sun. You don’t even have to do anything. Just a simple change of scenery and exposure to fresh air, done for just a little bit at a time but consistently every day, can go a long way to lifting the depression cloud. Take five minutes a day to be outside. While you’re outside, though, you might as well do something useful. Get the mail, pull some weeds, pick up a piece of trash… or not. Just being on the other side of the door will help.
  • Drink up. Water is an integral part of good health. When your body is under strain from dehydration, you may be subject to headaches and general malaise that contribute to the feelings of mild depression. Stay hydrated. If nothing else, it won’t make you feel worse, and maybe knowing you’re doing something good for yourself will be a boost.
  • Keep house.┬áPick one very simple household task, and do it. Just that one task. Do it every day, or at least most days. Maybe it’s making your bed. Maybe it’s folding laundry once it comes out of the dryer. Maybe it’s sweeping the kitchen after dinner. It doesn’t matter how simple it is — just do it. It’s one nice thing you can do for yourself with very little effort. Who knows — once you get moving, maybe you’ll find a little bit of energy to do one more thing. But even if you don’t, you’ll still have “at least the sheets are straight” to pick you up.
  • Say it. Talk with someone about how you are feeling. Use the words “depressed” or “depression.” Name it out loud, acknowledge it, and sit with it. Facing your feelings head-on will keep them from getting bigger and scarier — it puts the power back in your hands. Pretending or hiding from the truth won’t help, but facing it and getting support will. You’ll also have someone checking in on you, which can’t hurt.

Mild depression does not have to turn into something more serious. These are some simple steps you can take when you feel a gloomy cloud over your head to keep it from escalating. If you think your symptoms might indicate moderate or even severe depression (e.g. if everything on this list seemed stupid and useless), speak with a physician or a mental health professional as quickly as possible to get some additional support. Heavier depression might not clear up on its own without some psychotherapy, medication, or a combination thereof.