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  • Exercise. Even 15-20 minutes a day can make a difference in your mood. If you can't get yourself to take a simple walk, find a class or a friend to motivate you to schedule weekly exercise. Studies by Blumenthal (2000-2012) found that study participants who exercised regularly three times a week for 30 minutes,  and took no antidepressants,  did better than those who took antidepressant drug.  They were also less likely to have a relapse into another depressive episode in the future
  • Maintain a Positive Outlook. If you tend toward negativity, start paying attention to those things that you say to yourself. If you hear yourself saying "I will never feel better" or "Nothing ever goes my way" force yourself to make a switch mentally. Next time you hear those negative statements change your thinking to be positive and supportive of yourself. 
  • Talk. Seek out a family member, friend, counselor, therapist, spiritual leader or mentor. Getting connected to others is key to feeling better. That may mean using the phone or getting out, even once a day, to have a social contact. 
  • Get busy and get out of the house. That may even be as simple as taking your laptop to a coffee shop, going to the library,  listening to music in a park or reading in a cafe.  If you tend to find it hard to get off the couch, schedule things for yourself to do. Make plans to become a volunteer or ask a friend to drag you out of the house if needed.
  • Schedule a Routine Physical Exam with Your Doctor. Find out if there is something going on with your health that could lead you to feel depressed. Many peoople are quick to say depression is the culprit for all their problems when it could be low Vitamin D levels or hypothyroid, for example.  There are biological, as well as psychological reasons people may feel depressed.
  • Do some writing or start a diary. Writing may help you gain some ideas or insight around why you are feeling sad or depressed. Writing about how you feel, especially if you get into a daily habit, can have noticeable effects on your mood.  A gratitude journal can be an important addition to your nightly routine and can improve your outlook.
  • Get enough sleep. Find out how many hours of sleep you need and stick to getting those hours. Most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. For some, even thirty minutes less of sleep can increase irritability and impact your mood.
  • Take care of your body. Reduce your use of drugs, caffeine and alcohol. Sometimes the very substance you think is helping you to relax before bedtime, like a glass of wine,  can have a negative impact on the quality of your stages of sleep.
  • Make an appointment to start psychotherapy with a therapist you trust and with whom you feel safe. Your therapist may talk with you about having an evaluation with a medication prescriber to see if anti-depressant medication can improve your mood along with psychotherapy.
  • Change what can be changed. Sit down with your therapist or friend and make a list of all the things that are making you unhappy. Evaluate the cause of your sadness or depression and take action to improve your circumstances. Focus on what you can do and take actions to work on those aspects of your problems, rather than where you are stuck. Get to know the "Serenity Prayer" and say it to yourself multiple times a day. If the word "god" bothers you, just eliminate that word and start the prayer with: "Grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." -Reinhold Niebuhr
  • Check out these books to work on improving your mood and feeling better:


A Step By Step Guide

​Lisette R. Lahana, LCSW      ​

Lisette Lahana, LCSW #23663 has a private practice in Oakland, CA; she enjoys working with adults who are motivated to make changes needed to recover from depression.   Ms. Lahana has been licensed therapist since 1999. Reach her in her Oakland office by calling: (510) 915-4795 or  Email

In need of crisis services?  Feeling suicidal?  Click on this link to get local and national 24 hour crisis resources.
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