A new study shows that simply getting out and spending time with friends can significantly reduce the depression symptoms experienced by people suffering from mental health problems.
These positive social interactions may counteract the negative interactions depressed people experience and reinforce the idea that their friends matter to them, increasing well-being.
1. Get out of the house
Getting out and about is often helpful for people suffering from depression. Even just taking a walk to the shop or enjoying a coffee outside can help lift mood.
Keeping a tidy house can also be helpful for people with depression, as it helps to break up the day-to-day chores that often contribute to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Exercise has been found to be very helpful in reducing depression symptoms, especially when it’s rhythmic and continuous. That means walking, lifting weights, playing sports or doing yoga.
Try to find hobbies and interests that you enjoy and that you can get excited about again. These might include cooking, making art, journaling or working on your car.
2. Take up a hobby
Getting involved in something you love to do can help you feel better. Hobbies have been linked to a reduction in stress, blood pressure, and cortisol levels as well as a boost to positive mood states.
Taking up a hobby can also give you more structure in your life. Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Doing a hobby helps you structure your day and can break up your monotonous work schedule. This can free up extra time to get more things done, which is especially useful if your job is a full-time one that requires long hours.
Taking up a new hobby can also be a great way to boost your self-confidence and learn more about yourself. It can also help you make new friends and connect with people who share your interests.
3. Make new friends
A new study has found that the strength of social relationships is one of the strongest protective factors for depression. People who feel socially supported are more likely to bounce back from depressive episodes and avoid them altogether.
A good way to make friends is by taking part in community activities. This can include going to group exercise classes, attending meet ups for groups that gather around an interest or hobby, or joining a hiking club.
You may have to give these groups a few tries before you find someone who you want to spend time with. But it’s worth it to find some real friends.
Sometimes making new friends can be tough, especially when you’re dealing with depression. But there are ways to overcome the fear and self-doubt that comes with forming new connections.
4. Say yes to invitations
If you have depression, it can be difficult to say yes to invitations. Getting out and socializing is often one of the best things that can help prevent the depression, but it’s also important to make sure you aren’t overdoing it and making it an obligation.
When you get an invite, consider it if you’re truly interested in going. If you’re not, it’s okay to decline and not hurt the person’s feelings.
When you do decline, it can be helpful to let the person know why, if you can. But if you’re not honest about why you aren’t attending, it can be detrimental to your relationship with the person who invited you.
5. Be flexible
Social interaction is often a good antidote for anxiety and depression. It releases hormones that trigger a relaxation response, which counteracts the fight or flight reaction and helps to reduce your stress levels.
But sometimes social situations can be overwhelming or exhausting, especially if you’re introverted. It’s important to be flexible in your social life, so that you can get the most out of your interactions.
You can do this by making small social goals, such as calling a friend or going for a coffee. These can help you gradually ease into longer social interactions, and give you the opportunity to test whether or not you’ll enjoy them. If you don’t, it’s okay to leave. It’s also a good idea to check in with your emotions after each social event.