Five tips to help overcome depression

According to the World Health Organisation, depression will be the second-leading cause of world disability by 2020.

It’s essential for sufferers of depression to equip themselves with useful tips on how to overcome feelings of despair and isolation.

In this post, we will be sharing some helpful lifestyle points that can contribute to improved mental health.


1)    Create a solid routine

Anyone in the depth of depression can relate to the often debilitating effects. However, in order to take small steps to recovery, it’s important that you start building healthy habits. This all begins with a consistent and healthy routine. A solid routine helps reduce stress levels and act as a guide through times of change.

When putting together your routine, think about taking the following into consideration:

-    Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night

-    Set an activity goal for each day. This could be anything from household chores to doing something that makes you feel good about yourself

-    Get fresh air

-    Take a break from high-stress situations. This could mean taking time out to ‘re-calibrate’ or asking for support.  

-    Eat three healthy meals every day

-  Schedule social event and try to go even when you don’t feel like it


2)    Moderate exercise for 20-30 minutes every day

In addition to improving your overall physical health and stamina, exercise is a natural endorphin producer meaning it is the best and easiest way to give your mood a natural positive boost. By setting aside 20-30 minutes a day to go for a brisk walk, jog around the park or even cycle, you’re able to reduce your stress levels and increase your energy. If you can plan with others then this will give an added boost to your mood.


3)    Challenge negative thoughts

Intrusive negative thoughts can often be difficult for many people suffering from depression as it involves perceptions of yourself, life events or the world around you in general. Dwelling on negative thoughts significantly increases our feelings of depression, which is why it’s important to retrain your thinking habits. Take the following points into consideration to ensure you challenge negative thoughts on a daily basis:

-    Avoid over-generalising. Just because you’ve had a bad experience once, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to terrible situations for the rest of your life. Take small steps to get yourself in a place where you can take the good with the bad and look at situations objectively.

-    Labelling. It may have been a teacher, a parent or even just yourself who gave you a negative label that has stuck ever since. Judging yourself or others harshly based on one mistake that was made or event at a particular point in life does nothing to help healthy opinions of yourself or others. Whenever you find yourself using a negative label, seeing yourself in absolute terms, try thinking about time when the oppositive was try.  Remembering the feeling of your happiest memory or a time you excelled at something will help to see more balanced opinions about yourself.

-    Dismissing positive events – Depression always tends to make sufferers focus on negative events or situations. By dismissing positive experiences or convincing yourself you don’t deserve to be happy will only cause your depression to take a downward spiral. Instead, try celebrating your small wins or achievements. This could be simple things such as getting out of bed the moment your alarm goes off and not several hours later, or bigger achievements such as, doing some exercise, keeping plans to meet with friends or doing something in work when you did not feel like doing.


4)    Spend time with loved ones

When in the depths of depression, it can often feel like a monumental task to maintain even the closest of relationships. Withdrawing from friends and family is a common sign of depression so if you’re able to recognise these signs within yourself at an early stage, try to reintegrate yourself into your social groups, or even take up a new hobby. Reach out and make plans.


5)    Keep track of how you feel and understand when it’s time to get professional help

If you get to the point where you feel like your ‘low mood’ has gone on for significantly longer than you had hoped then it might be time to start thinking about seeking professional help to aid these coping strategies. CBT is a talking therapy and a great way to help you deal with negative feelings and helps you create positive thinking patterns to influence positive behaviours.

Being able to early identify when you’re feeling overwhelmed is the ultimate first step to overcoming depression.

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Kavita Gooch

Kavita Gooch

The suggestions and advice in this article is all very true and can help those with certain types of depression or lower level depressions. CBT I believe is useful and can be used for short term problems we face day to day and some of it can be incorporated daily so that the more positive thoughts lead to more routine and help with social interaction but does need 'topping up' and won't work I think for deeply ingrained depression which goes back to childhood and also very traumatic events will cause long term post traumatic stress and depression. I for instance have recently realised that due to my family home being violent and highly stressful plus bullying in school I probably had depression since babyhood! I use many strategies like those in the article daily but the ongoing high levels of trauma created frequently will be a constant so that each time I try positive activities (I run daily) and listen to music etc there is a fear that another crisis will occur or I'll get q phone call (it does happen intermittently). So whilst all very true, it's rather simplistic and has that tone of pull your self together etc: therapy will work for most depressed people it would have to be long term psychodynamic type and this even can only just scratch the surface and can take many years to get insight and piece everything together which eventually can help by leading to acceptance.

Lee Grant

Lee Grant (Admin)

Dear Kavita,

Thank you for your comment and for bringing this to our attention.

The objective of our blog post is to provide some CBT based self-help techniques for anyone with a mild to moderate depression.

No BABCP accredited CBT therapists would see what we do as a “simplistic and…pull yourself together” approach – we are seasoned mental health professionals before completing additional/postgraduate CBT training. Our clients have a range from mild to severely depressed and carry a significant risk. (To be continued in my next reply)

Lee Grant

Lee Grant (Admin)

While CBT is not defined as an exploratory therapy, there is an element of exploration to formulate a treatment plan. The start of therapy is about symptom management as described — most patients recover with his approach. Sometimes, change is difficult, and we need to explore. Most would need some exploratory work to understand where did a core belief of “I am a failure”, “I am unlovable”, etc. comes from. Generally, these are in childhood, but not always. Exploring these is often helpful for patients to understand their psychological development that can help to start the process of building new belief, assumptions or rule for a living – more helpful response to what happened to them. This is common practice in formulation driven CBT and why it has the best evidence base over any other form of psychological therapy. Even in behavioural therapy form the 1970s (before the C in CBT) there is an understanding in Learning Theory that problems developed in pervious experienced (classical and operant conditioning). Nowadays, for those longer termed problem we have interventions that need to address complexity (schema therapy, belief work, DBT, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, etc.) but we would never recommend psychodynamic therapy, as per NICE guidance – if it is not good enough for robust NHS services (commissioned or otherwise) then it is not good enough for our clients.

To put my reply in a context, I started my mental health career in 1988 and have since trained psychodynamically including BSc (Hons) Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy, MSc Mental Health Studies and Diploma in Nursing, Registered Nurse (Mental Health)

Kind Regards, Lee Grant – Clinical Director, Efficacy


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