It’s not surprising to hear that doing activities that you find fun or pleasant daily will help to improve your overall mood and sense of happiness. The idea is to build these types of activities into your daily routine.
A common problem that people with depression note is that they no longer feel like doing things. Because of this, they slowly stop doing the “less important” activities in their daily lives and eventually are left only with activities of things they “have” to do, things like going to work, cleaning the dishes, and sleeping. How depressing is that?!! If instead, you scheduled activities that bring you happiness, and commit to doing them, even when you don’t feel like it, you start to notice that you are feeling a little bit lighter, happier, and maybe even less depressed.
What Type of Activities Should I Think of?
I think the best practice is to try and think of activities that you have enjoyed in the past, and of activities that are easy or convenient for you to do. You can add some bigger, more expensive items to your list, but the majority of the list should be made up of simple, inexpensive activities that you can easily fit into your day. This will make it easier to actually complete these activities so you can get the benefits from them. That makes sense, right?
Another important consideration is to have a long list with lots of different activities to choose from. This will allow you to have a variety which will increase your happiness effect.
What Things Can I Do?
I’ve listed several things below to get you started. Don’t limit yourself to my ideas, but rather use the list as a place to start your own personalized list.
Soak your feet. You can even buy yourself an inexpensive foot spa from the local drugstore.
Go to the park for a few hours
Go for a walk
Go see a play
Put out some bird seeds to watch the birds
Play with your dog (or other pet)
Take a warm bubble bath
Read a good book
Do some deep breathing
Watch a good movie
Call a friend
Tell someone a joke or a story
Plant some seeds and watch the plants grow
Find a funny YouTube or TicToc to laugh at
Read the funny pages from the newspaper
Listen to music from your youth. Or any music that makes you happy or nostalgic
Learn a magic trick
Plan a day trip to a local attraction like the museum, greenhouse, or the zoo
Make a puzzle
Go to the local farmer’s market
Paint some rocks and hide them around town for people to find
Learn a new fact or 2 about a subject you're interested in
Wear your favorite piece of jewelry
Look through old photos of your last vacation
Plan a vacation to take next summer
Buy yourself some flowers
Buy a gift for someone you love
Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
Go for a bike ride
Challenge a friend or family member to a fun game that you enjoy
Pull out an old hobby that you used to enjoy! Or start a new one.
Go for a scenic drive
Go take some pics of nature, or of your child (grandchild, best friend, etc)
Hang out at the beach
Decorate your house for the season
Fix something in your house that is broken and that you’ve been meaning to get around to
Do some gardening
Compliment 5 people
Dress up nicely for the day and fix your hair
Bake a cake or cookies for no reason
Draw a picture. Or get yourself an adult coloring book and color
Do a crossword puzzle
Volunteer someplace where you can help other people
Buy a new outfit for yourself
Spend some time laying out in the sun
Rearrange your furniture and hang up those pictures that you never bothered to hang up before
Color your hair a new, fun color
Go out to eat
Volunteer at the dog (or cat) shelter
Take a class in a subject that you’ve always been interested in. Coursera offers lots of different free options.
Eat an ice cream cone or other favored treat
Go to a concert
Start a collection such as rocks, coins, depression glass, or seashells
Do some yoga or meditation
Try a new recipe
Take a long lunch break at your favorite restaurant
Give your significant other a massage
Go to the local fair
Visit a farm
Use some nice-smelling lotion
Go star gazing. Michigan even has a dark sky park up near Mackinaw City.
Read poetry, or try your hand at writing it
Plant a tree or two
Organize a neighborhood cleanup
Organize a block party
Buy some fun new sunglasses
Run through the sprinkler with children
paint a picture
Start a new Pinterest board
Connect with an old friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while
Go fly a kite
Learn to build a kite
Teach yourself a new card trick
Play a new video game
Play a card game or even solitaire
Go camping. Go glamping!
Sing a song
Embroider a pillowcase
Refinish some furniture
Learn a new craft
Take a nap
Go to a coffee shop for a latte or cappuccino
Once you’ve made up your pleasant activities list of things that YOU personally enjoy doing, then make a plan or a schedule that will include at least 1 activity per day. This will help you to focus on more pleasant feelings while you are depressed and help to lift your mood. Doing this may not cure your depression, but if it helps even a little, it may be worth a try.
If you continue to have trouble coping with your depression, or would like to talk with someone about depression treatment, please follow the link.