What to Do on the Bad Days of Depression: A Comprehensive Guide

As someone who has experienced depression, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to cope on the bad days. These are the days when you feel down, hopeless, and overwhelmed. While it may seem impossible to improve your mood, there are things you can do to help make the bad days a little more manageable. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to do on the bad days of depression:

1. Reach Out for Support

Depression can feel isolating and lonely, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member and let them know how you’re feeling. They may not have all the answers or be able to solve your problems, but having someone to talk to can be incredibly helpful. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know or if you feel like you need additional support, consider reaching out to a mental health professional.

2. Stay Active

When you’re feeling depressed, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. However, physical activity can be a powerful tool to improve your mood. Exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and can improve your mood. Even a short walk or gentle yoga can have a positive impact on your mental health. If you’re struggling to get motivated to exercise, consider enlisting a friend to be your workout buddy or joining a fitness class that you enjoy.

3. Practice Self-Care

Practicing self-care can be an important part of managing depression. On the bad days, it’s important to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Take a bath, read a book, or do something else that brings you joy. Try to get enough sleep, eat well, and make time for relaxation. It can be helpful to make a list of self-care activities that you enjoy and turn to it when you’re feeling down.

4. Connect with Nature

Spending time in nature has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. Even if you’re not an outdoorsy person, spending time in nature can help reduce stress, improve your mood, and increase feelings of well-being. Take a walk in a park, go for a hike, or simply sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. If you’re unable to get outside, consider bringing nature inside by adding plants or flowers to your home.

5. Challenge Negative Thoughts

Depression can often be accompanied by negative thinking patterns. These thoughts can be self-critical, pessimistic, or defeatist. While it can be difficult to challenge these thoughts, it’s important to try. Ask yourself if there is evidence to support your negative thoughts or if you’re making assumptions. Try to reframe your thoughts in a more positive or realistic way. If you need help, consider seeking the guidance of a mental health professional.

6. Do Something Productive

When you’re feeling depressed, it can be easy to fall into a cycle of inactivity. However, doing something productive can help provide a sense of accomplishment and improve your mood. Choose a task that is manageable and that you can complete in a reasonable amount of time. This can be as simple as doing the dishes or laundry, or as complex as starting a new project.

7. Seek Professional Help If Needed

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, or are having thoughts of suicide, it’s important to seek professional help immediately. Depression is a serious medical condition and should be treated as such. There are many treatment options available, including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help – it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.


Depression can be a difficult and complex medical condition, and managing it can be challenging at times. However, there are things you can do to help make the bad days a little more manageable. By reaching out for support, staying active, practicing self-care, connecting with nature, challenging negative thoughts, doing something productive, and seeking professional help if needed, you can take steps towards feeling better. Remember, you’re not alone and there is hope for recovery.


FAQs: What To Do On The Bad Days Of Depression

1. Why is it important to have a plan for bad days?

Having a plan for bad days is important because it can help you feel more prepared and in control when depressive symptoms arise. This can help you take the necessary steps to manage symptoms, reduce the severity and length of the episode, and promote recovery.

2. What are some examples of self-care strategies for bad days?

Self-care strategies for bad days may vary depending on individual needs and preferences. However, some examples include practicing relaxation techniques (e.g., deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation), engaging in physical activity, spending time in nature, journaling or expressing emotions through art, connecting with supportive friends or family members, and seeking professional help when needed.

3. How can I stay motivated to use my self-care plan during bad days?

Staying motivated during bad days can be challenging, but there are some tips that may help. One is to remind yourself of the benefits of using your self-care plan, such as feeling more in control, reducing symptoms, and promoting recovery. Another is to create a routine or schedule that incorporates self-care activities, and to track your progress or accomplishments. Finally, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional, support group, or trusted friend or family member.


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3. Rottenberg, J., Devendorf, A. R., Kashdan, T. B., & Disabato, D. J. (2020). The dark side of social support: Understanding the role of social support, negative interactions and negative affect in depression. Current Opinion in Psychology, 33, 142-147.