Here is a sample of some of the non-medical strategies in my book:
Celebrate Small Victories :If you have an accomplishment, no matter how minor, feel free to feel good about it. It doesn’t matter if the source is internal or external. If it makes you feel good or brings a smile to your face, take it and run with it. Then, do something else that makes you feel good. Do this enough, and it becomes a habit.
Find a Real Happy Place: Whether it is alone or with others, if there is someplace that brings a smile to your lips (or, at least, erases a frown), then go there as often as you can. Maybe a backyard with a view, a quiet rooftop, a park bench, a favorite niche in the library, or even your bed. Wherever you feel happy and content, go there whenever you can.
Have a Good Cry: Crying can release a cascade of emotions. You may not realize that anger, hurt, hate, are welling up inside you, but they can. You do not always have to suppress them. When you are alone, bring them to the surface. Allow yourself to be sad. Allow tears to fall from your eyes. Take that sadness and wash it away
Laugh More: Laughter is the best medicine. It is really hard to feel bad when you are laughing. Just by laughing and getting into a good mood, I was able to focus. It snapped me out of the down mood I was in and energized me to start doing stuff.
Listen to Music: It is said that “music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” Most people have some sounds that make them feel good. Create a playlist of your favorites, put on your headphones (not earbuds), crank up the volume (but not too loud), and listen with eyes closed.
Lists, Calendars, and Routines: Depression is bad enough. But, throw in the anxiety you feel when you are sure you forgot to do something but can’t remember what it is – that just exacerbates the situation. Making a list, writing appointments (or deadlines) on a calendar, and having a routine
Physical Activity / Exercise: Exercise has also been shown to have numerous mental health benefits, including reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. College students can also benefit from the impact that exercise has on the brain, including improved memory and thinking skills.
Sing: You can’t be unhappy when you are singing – it is a physical impossibility. Print out the lyrics to your favorite songs and sing out loud.
Sleep: For the depressed, sleep is a double-edged sword. You want to make sure that you have enough so that you have the energy to do things, but you don’t want to sleep so much that you lose the day. I love to take naps. Before a nap, I am dragging and don’t feel like doing anything. When I wake up, I am energized and feel like I can accomplish everything.
Stop Watching the News: We live in a depressing world, and many college students feel like they need to be activists to help fix it all. That’s a lot of responsibility. Take a break from the news of the day. I know, you are already feeling anxious that you don’t know the latest faux pas made by a politician that you hate, or are aware of the latest atrocity on another continent. Turn off your phone, turn off your radio, turn off your TV, and do something fun.