What fun activities can help someone overcome depression?

Many standard depression treatments are not fun. Even physical exercise, meant to boost your mood, can feel like an awful chore at times. These mental health champions give you some surprising activities to help you or your loved one overcome depression. And you’ll have fun while you’re doing it.
Ryan Sultán

Ryan Sultán

Board-Certified Mental Health Physician, Director of .

Ten Fun Activities To Help Combat Depression

It’s important to note that while engaging in fun activities can contribute to overall mood improvement, professional help should be sought in the case of serious depression. However, here are some activities that may provide some relief:

1. Exercising: Physical activity can stimulate the production of endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters. This can be anything that gets you moving: dancing, hiking, yoga, or just a walk in the park. The key is to find something you truly enjoy doing so it feels more like fun and less like work.

2. Spending Time in Nature: Multiple studies have shown that spending time outside can boost your mood and reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. This can be as simple as a picnic in the park, gardening, or bird-watching.

3. Creative Activities: Engaging in creative activities, such as painting, drawing, writing, or playing a musical instrument, can be therapeutic. Creative pursuits can help express emotions and thoughts that might be difficult to convey otherwise. They also provide a sense of accomplishment when completed.

4. Cooking or Baking: Preparing food can be a creative and fulfilling experience. The process can be meditative, and the result is often delicious, which can offer a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

5. Volunteering: Helping others can significantly improve your mood and outlook. According to studies, volunteering helps people feel more socially connected, which prevents feelings of isolation and despair, but it can also lead to a ‘helper’s high,’ a powerful physical and emotional feeling experienced when directly helping others.

6. Playing with Pets: Pets provide unconditional love and companionship. Serotonin and dopamine levels might rise when a dog or cat is being played with, calming and relaxing the person.

7. Games and Puzzles: Engaging in play, either alone or with others, can be a great mood booster. This could be video games, board games, crossword puzzles, or brain-training games.

8. Meditation or Mindfulness Practices: These can help cultivate an increased awareness of the present, which can help with depressive symptoms. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference.

9. Socializing with Friends: Spending time with people who make you feel good can boost your mood. This can be virtual meet-ups as well if meeting in person is not possible.

10. Learning Something New: This could be a new language, a new skill, or even a new sport. The process can be engaging and can provide a sense of accomplishment, which can help to combat feelings of worthlessness often associated with depression.

Remember, what works may be different for each person. The key is finding activities that you genuinely enjoy and look forward to.

Embrace Your Inner Child, Dance It Out, and Play Games

Approaching depression with a holistic and personalized perspective is crucial, integrating playful and enjoyable activities into the path of well-being and recovery. While these activities alone may not cure depression, they serve as invaluable components of a comprehensive self-care plan, nurturing positive emotions and bolstering overall mental health.

Here are some suggested playful activities with the potential to assist individuals in managing their depression:

Embrace your inner child: Engage in activities that awaken your playful spirit, such as visiting a trampoline park, engaging in a spirited water balloon fight, or relishing the simple joy of playing with bubbles. These activities facilitate reconnection with a sense of lightness and delight.

Get creative: Explore your artistic inclinations by experimenting with activities like finger painting, venturing into the realm of abstract art, or embarking on a captivating DIY project. Creative pursuits offer a channel for self-expression and serve as therapeutic outlets of play.

Dance it out: Crank up the music and surrender to the rhythm with dancing. Whether it’s swaying in your living room, joining a dance class, or discovering a new dance style, the rhythmic movement of your body can elevate your mood and liberate accumulated stress.

Laugh therapy: Engage in activities that induce contagious laughter, such as indulging in humorous movies, attending lively comedy shows, or sharing moments with individuals who ignite your sense of humor. Laughter possesses the remarkable power to elevate mood, alleviate tension, and foster an overall sense of well-being.

Play games: Organize vibrant game nights with friends or family, exploring board games, card games, or interactive video games. Participating in spirited competition and sharing laughter creates a sense of connection and cultivates joyous engagement.

Adina Mahalli

Adina Mahalli

Certified Mental Health Expert and Family Therapist for .
Steve Carleton, LCSW, CACIII

Steve Carleton, LCSW, CACIII

Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Executive Clinical Director at .

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art-making as a way to explore emotions, process trauma, and gain insight into behavior. It can help people of all ages and backgrounds—from children dealing with issues surrounding school or family life to adults struggling with stress or depression.

The goal of art therapy is not necessarily to create “good” art but to use the act of creating art as a means of self-expression and exploration. This can be a great way to help someone struggling with depression by giving them a creative outlet that allows them to express themselves in a safe and supportive environment.

The mental health benefits of being more creative and artistically engaged can include stress reduction, improved self-esteem, increased relaxation, enhanced problem-solving abilities, and improved communication skills.

Art therapy encourages creativity and self-expression in a safe setting which can help people reflect on their emotions, manage distressful thoughts or feelings, and understand themselves better. Creativity can also give people a sense of control and encourage them to explore new interests.

Art therapy often involves exploring the connections between emotions, thoughts, and behavior that are not always easy to express in words. It can help people move past difficult or traumatic experiences and gain insight into their lives. Through art therapy, individuals can also build resilience and develop healthier coping skills for managing distress.

At-Home Spa Days and Learning A New Instrument

The first fun activity that I recommend to anyone struggling with depression is to journal. Journaling is an excellent way to let out [the] stress and worries that come with having depression, and it is a perfect documentation of your own personal journey with mental health. It doesn’t have to be perfectly written – bullet points will do just fine – but it is fun and helpful to have a private place to get your thoughts out.

The next activity I stand by is an at-home spa day. Bath bombs and a good book/playlist are a cheap, easy way to have a fun day of relaxation that gets you out of bed and out of your head. Sometimes the key to battling depression is simply taking some time for self-love and getting out of your typical routine.

Finally, picking up an instrument of any kind is a wonderful hobby that assists in battling depression beautifully. You can learn pretty much any instrumental skill online, and it can be done from the comfort of your own home at your own pace. It is a skill that you can easily learn in bite-size pieces without becoming overwhelmed, and it becomes an excellent outlet for one’s emotions – plus, the achievement of learning your favorite songs always lifts your spirits.

Melody Votoire

Melody Votoire

Author and Mental Health Micro-Influencer at .
Becca Smith, LPC

Becca Smith, LPC

Chief Clinical Officer at .

Physical Activity, Volunteering, and Pursuing Hobbies

Exercise is a great activity for tackling depression and improving one’s overall mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural hormones that promote feelings of happiness and reduce stress. It can also take the focus away from negative thoughts, help to boost self-esteem and provide a sense of accomplishment.

Furthermore, exercising in groups or with friends can be a great way to increase social connections and build stronger relationships. You can explore different activities, such as running, yoga, cycling, or swimming – any of these can help to improve your physical and mental well-being.

Talk Therapy
Therapeutic conversations with a mental health professional can help to identify underlying issues and work towards finding solutions. Talking things through can help to make sense of confusing thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It can also help to develop insight, improve communication skills, and build coping strategies to better manage depression.

Volunteering in your local community or with a charity that is close to your heart can be a great way to overcome depression. When you volunteer, not only are you helping those in need, but you’re also giving back to your community and providing yourself with a sense of purpose. Volunteering also gives you an opportunity to interact with others and form social connections, which can help build up feelings of self-worth.

Moreover, the act of helping others can boost your mental well-being and provide a positive outlet to channel any negative emotions.

Pursuing hobbies and interests is a great way to take a break from any stressors and refocus your energy on something positive. Hobbies can help to distract from negative thoughts and provide a way to take charge of your mental health by focusing on something creative or enjoyable.

They can also serve as an emotional outlet, allowing you to express yourself in new ways that are more productive than ruminating over difficult emotions. Having something to look forward to each day can also help to lift your spirits and bring more joy into your life.

Exercising, Connecting With Loved Ones, Practicing Mindfulness, And Journaling

1. Exercise: Regular exercise can help to relieve symptoms of depression. Not only does it release endorphins that make you feel good, but it also helps reduce stress and anxiety. Try something physical like running, walking, yoga, or swimming at a local gym or park.

2. Connect with Friends and Family: Talk to your loved ones about what you are going through. Having a strong support system around you can help to lift your spirits and make you feel less alone.

3. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of staying in the present moment without judgment or worry. Try meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or taking a nature walk. Any activity that gets you out of your head and into the present moment can help to reduce symptoms of depression.

4. Journal: Writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences can be a great way to process them in a healthy manner.

Justin Carpenter

Justin Carpenter

Andre Kazimierski

Andre Kazimierski

CEO of .

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga is a great way to help those with depression. This is a unique exercise routine that combines deep breathing techniques with intentional laughter to promote mental and emotional well-being. There are classes you can take, or you can even just do it in your own home!

You’ll want to start by deep breathing to relax your body and mind. Then, try gentle laughter. Force yourself to chuckle softly, even if it feels forced or unnatural. Gradually, let the laughter build, focusing on the sound and the sensation of laughter.

Keep the laughter going for at least 10 minutes. While it may seem silly, the laughter will release endorphins and promote a positive emotional state.

Try Community Gardening

Start by finding a community garden or project. Look for local community gardens or gardening initiatives in your area. You’ll be able to connect with like-minded individuals, engage in a shared activity, and contribute to the beauty of your community. Through the benefits of gardening, you’ll enjoy the opportunity for physical activity, exposure to natural light, and a connection with nature. Tending to plants and watching them grow can also be an extremely rewarding experience.

Dustin Sitar

Dustin Sitar

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