50+ Ways to Enjoy Depression and Stress LESS

Generally, depression is a feeling or sense of inadequacy. Depression is characterised by a sustained feeling of sadness over a period of time (usually for a period of two weeks or more) and the sadness not lifting or, going away. And, because of this sustained sadness, the person is having difficulty concentrating at work or, study and impacting on their relationships with family and friends.

  • Does this definition describe how you are feeling?
  • Does this definition describe how your friend or partner may be feeling?
  • Have you ever noticed when you feel at your lowest, it forces you to do something different?
  • Did you know depression can be one of the greatest motivators?

That’s right! Depression can stimulate creativity and imagination.

If this sounds like you, here’s how to make the most of it!

Whenever I research depression, anxiety and mental illness, similar information appears on all websites and books.  Firstly, a definition, similar to above and secondly, the signs and symptoms of depression.  However, if you are depressed, I’m tipping, you already know what the signs and symptoms are anyway.  So, here’s a compilation of tips provided by clients, colleagues and, friends of ways to enjoy life, NOW!

NB: You should also talk to your doctor about how you are feeling and ask to have a mental health assessment and treatment. There are lots of useful treatments and services to assist you. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy participating in some of the activities. Every action you take is a step towards recovery. If you are feeling suicidal, ring Lifeline on 13 11 14.

ENJOY DEPRESSION –Seriously….or, not so seriously!

1. Sleep in! Stay in bed and rest for an extra hour or so. Tips for getting a better night sleep can be found on: http://www.wikihow.com/Fall-Asleep

2. Eat your favourite food (but, only a small portion, save some for later). Remember, the old saying, ‘you are what you eat’, so stick to a healthy eating plan.  I recommend low GI to avoid the sugar lows. Eat regularly and drink lots of water.  See a dietitian for professional advice.

3. Watch your favourite movie or, an episode of your favourite television series. (Recommend: action or comedy, great distraction).

4. Talk to a trusted friend or colleague about how you are feeling.

5. Listen to your negative thoughts and twist them around into funny stories, like you see on television or movie comedies. E.g.: your bully of a boss can be amplified into ‘The Joker’ played aka Jack Nicholson or Cruella de Vil aka Glenn Close (Batman/101 Dalmatians).   Now imagine the many other faces of these two actors and adapt these to your boss.  Alternatively, imagine your boss in a thong or mankini, (lots of saggy bits and pieces) and, a nose uglier than the Wicked Witch (I’m sure you can add to the picture).  What else would you add?  Draw a picture and keep it in your wallet/purse (unlabelled).

6. Wear your favourite comfort clothes/track pants.  Later on, dress up in your favourite outfit when you go to pick up the kids from school or just to go to the supermarket…(what did you notice).

7. Watch embarrassing newsreader moments on YouTube.  Farting ones are extremely funny.  What are you noticing?

8.Make a  a list of happy moments in your life.  Visit the GO TO – Happy Place and follow the instructions.  Maybe you could add the time you farted inappropriately to your list.

9. Make finger puppets.


10. Reading.  Read your favourite book.  Magazines should be avoided (due to unrealistic body images, and, mostly repetitive crap in them).  No-one really looks like that, especially your boss.

11. Planning: plan something fun today.  Then, plan something bigger for tomorrow: e.g.: drive to your favourite town – enjoy preparing and your favourite meal (no calorie counting), take a mental health day from work (it’s a legitimate sick day and, you don’t have to give details to your boss but, you may need to get a certificate from doctor, while you’re there, tell them how you are feeling – ask for a mental health assessment).  Plan a holiday, camping trip, overseas cruise.  Begin with a list of the smallest task you need to do to achieve this goal.

12. Go for a swim at the local pool.

13. Ring that friend you’ve been meaning to and organise to catch up, this week.

14. Submit your registration to compete on a television game show e.g.: ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Deal or no Deal.

15. Buy yourself a new toy: Something just for fun. E.g.: Buy a kayak and enjoy kayaking on your local lake.  Maybe your partner or a friend could join you.

16. Have sex.  LOTS AND LOTS of juicy SEX.  (Anti-depressant medications may impact on performance but, you can still enjoy sex).  Make an appointment to talk to your GP to discuss any side affects you may be experiencing and review your medications.

17. Remember some of the games/toys you played as a child?  Girls might have had ‘elastics’ ‘skipping’ or, Boys: marbles and army men. They stock these at your local KMART or some supermarkets.  Buy one today and re-live the fun of your childhood.  What other games did you play?  You may need to ask a friend to come over to play?

18. Invite your besty over for a slumber party.  You can invite boys and girls, now you are a grown-up.  Sleeping bags, favourite movie, games (twister, elastics, Monopoly, cowboys and Indians) and PARTY FOOD, your favourite soft drinks, chocolate crackles etc.  Notice how much fun this night is, alcohol free.

19. Run! Run your arse off!  What do you notice?  Compare on a scale of 1-10 (1 being low – 10 being feeling fabulous) , how you felt before the run and then when you finish your run.

20. Be grateful for not being a celebrity or, member of the royal family.  IMAGINE having every part of your life play out in the public eye.  Write a list of five things every morning you are grateful for.

21. Bake your favourite CAKE/DESSERT!  Forget the calories!  Enjoy your cake with your partner/besty.  Yum!  Sit down at the dining table and eat it with your favourite, coffee/tea or mocktail. Enjoy it with your friends… Share it with your neighbour or, just eat it all yourself over the next few days.

22. Build a remote control plane.  Better yet, buy a ticket for a mystery flight.

23. Write a love letter to your lover. Buy beautiful writing paper, a new pen and make sure you buy a stamp while you are at it.  Go home, write the letter, then walk down and post it TODAY!  How are you feeling now?  What are you noticing?

24. What other letters could you write?  Now you have the paper, you might enjoy writing to your cousin overseas, or someone across the other side of the country and, encourage them to write back to you.  Imagine what fun it will be to receive a reply in the post.  How often do you receive letters?  Write to someone you know will write back.  A strategy may be to invite them to an event on a particular date e.g.: slumber party.  This way, they may reply sooner and you can keep the letters going.  You now have a pen pal.

25. Write a message and put it in a bottle.  It doesn’t have to go out to sea.  Where else you could leave a message and, wait for a response? Google search GEOCACHE.

26. Play hide and seek, WORLDWIDE, GEOCACHE style.  Discover the unusual and fun places around the world as you seek to find the cache.  Create your own and plan where you might hide it. What will you put in it??? Plan a trip to locate other GEOCACHE.  I wonder what the most unusual place is you could find one…?

27. Buy tickets. To the musical, opera, comedy show in your city.

28. Go for a ride on your bike.  Buy a bike and ride it, if you don’t have one.

29. Visit the zoo.

30. Buy a lovely notebook and begin to write a journal.  Write in it each day.  Plan your day to include a special time, undisturbed to write in your journal.  You don’t have to be a best-selling author.  This is your private journal for you to record our own personal thoughts about anything and everything.  It is up to you.  Keep it someone safe.

31. CRY! Crying is underrated and, will make you feel better!  It is healthy to let it out.  Your eyes may be sore afterwards but, you can enjoy a powernap to soothe them.  Not so great if you wear contact lenses.

32. Learn a language. Practise saying the words aloud while recording yourself, emphasise the intonation, like rolling your ‘rs. Play it back. How does it sound?

33. Read up on the culture of the nationality of the language you are learning. What do you notice?

34. Learn a magic trick. Practise! Practise! Practise! Perhaps you could perform it for your friends.

35. Get the video camera out and make up a video skit, either on your own (playing different parts or, you could do this with friends).

36. Learn a new skill e.g.: dance lessons.

37. Challenge yourself to start a conversation with a stranger. Be genuinely curious and get to know them. Afterwards, reflect on how much easier this is than you thought. Try it again tomorrow. What are you noticing?

38. Catch up with family, cook a meal together, and go out for dinner.

39. Learn a new computer program. E.g.: Photoshop your favourite photos. You could print them and hang them up around your home. Print one as a gift for a friend.

40. Pay it forward. Do something nice for someone without them knowing it was you. Spread the word and, if that person wants to repay your kindness ask them to do something nice for three other people and so on. Read up on http://www.wikihow.com/Pay-It-Forward

41. Change your appearance. Get a completely new hairdo, one you’ve always wanted. Shave your beard off, grow a beard, moustache.  Ladies may want to wax/bleach their moustache.

42. Create a new image. Go through your wardrobe and throw away your clothes (maybe give them to the local charity or, people down the road that house burnt down/flooded).  Keep only the clothes that portray your true self.  Fun clothes, comfort clothes.  And, keep some for work.

43. Relax with some breathing exercises.  Find a comfortable place to lay down and focus gradually on every muscle in your body from your little toe, through to your big toe and up your legs, to your core.  Continue concentrating on every muscle of your body, up to your neck and face, to your eyebrows and ears.  Or, try counting backwards from 100 while concentrating on slowing your breathing. It works!

44. Explore vocational interests. Career change. What would you need to do to become a nurse, counsellor, teacher, musician, and writer? How could you achieve this? Take an online test to see what interests you have that match vocational skills. http://www.41q.com/ What did you notice?

45. Join or create your own flash mob. Google search: ‘join a flash mob Australia’.

46. Paint a picture. If nothing comes to mind. Try painting something simple. Perhaps a picture of your family home, a seaside theme, mountains, whatever you would enjoy looking at. Now paint it all in your favourite colours (these don’t need to match the original image). Try a beginners video like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3sn8FzcCX4

47. Join an online chat/club. Great for singles and events. Join a local community organisation/sports club/cause – get involved: Shave for a Cure, Pink Ribbon Day, Netball Club, Football Club, Sailing club, Singles group, Golf, Social Club, Young Entrepreneurs club, Professional club. Start your own professional body in the local area.

48. Learn to ride a motor bike/trike, scooter, skiing, snowboarding, skate board, skating (roller/blade) car, plane, train, helicopter, glider, windsurfer, and sailing, get your license. Or, simply enjoy a joy ride/flight somewhere beautiful: E.g.: fly over the Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef.

49. Go bushwalking through a national park. Climb Cradle Mountain, Mount Tambourine, walk around Kalbarri National Park, Karajini National Park, The Grampians, Barossa Valley, Katoomba and Blue Mountains.

50. Swim below the waterfalls at Litchfield National Park or Kakadu or the warm springs at Mataranka and Katherine. Kayak along Katherine Gorge.

51. Look at yourself in the mirror and pull funny faces.

52. Laugh, try different laughs. Join a laughing group (yes, they really do exist), try out a work laugh (like Chandler on the TV series FRIENDS). Once you are laughing, try to hold the laugh in…Can you do it?

53. Take a funny family/group or couple photograph.

54. Write a dirty poem.

55. Tell inappropriate stories at the dinner table.

56. Upskill yourself: vocationally or hobbies etc. You may be able to combine the two.

57. Type random words into GOOGLE/YAHOO/BING and see what comes up.

58. Write your bucket list – at least 20 things!

59. Colour your world. Colour therapy. It does work. PAINT your bedroom wall your favourite colour, wear your favourite colours. Buy pyjamas in your favourite colours.

60. Tell someone what you really want to say. ‘Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say’ Mitch Albom. You may wish to practise this and reflect on how your message will be received.

61. Eat chocolate. One piece, every day. Dark chocolate is full of anti-oxidants, so you have a fantastic excuse to eat it. Savour every mouthful.

62. Write a list of everyone you LOVE! Be grateful for each person you love.

63. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself ‘I love you’. Actions speak louder than words, so, show your self-love by doing something loving for yourself. If your friends wanted to do something loving for you and nurture you, what would you want them to do? Now, DO IT!

64. What do you do to have fun? DO IT! This should be something that is going to be good for you and your relationships. Eg: bushwalking, swimming, playing monopoly. Anything at all except, alcohol! Alcohol is a depressant and should be avoided if you are feeling depressed.

65. Prepare your tax refund. This might sound taxing but, if you’re lucky, you may get a refund to splurge on yourself.  Start a file for your receipts in preparation for next year.  Even a spike near your computer would do.

66.   Remember a time when you farted inappropriately.  Was that you who farted in the elevator?


Please feel free to add your depression busters/stress management tips in our comments section below.

Stress management

An important skill of self-regulation is managing the effect of stress in your life.

Some stress in our lives can be positive as it motivates us, but too much stress can have a negative influence and can result in depression and health problems. If you’re feeling stressed it’s very difficult to manage your emotions effectively.  Some useful things to do to manage stress include:

1. Breathing exercises

2. Healthy eating and drinking

3. Exercising frequently

4. Sleeping for 7 to 8 hours a night

5. Make time for fun outside of work

6. Laugh more often

7. Spend time alone

Other helpful websites:

Blackdog Institute: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au/ Headspace: http://www.headspace.org.au/is-it-just-me/find-information/depression?

copyright 2013 freecounsellingaustralia.com

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