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How To Keep Busy When You Are Depressed

Updated on February 20, 2015

I have struggled with severe depressive episodes and I have used several different treatments for depression. I like to share my knowledge of mental health issues as well as anything that may be of help to others.

If you suffer from depression, you may realize that having nothing to do or having idle time on your hands may increase the amount of negative thinking that you do. Sometimes depression may cause a lack of motivation, which makes it hard to do almost anything. Keeping busy is one way of distracting the negative thoughts and possibly helping to lift your mood. Here are a few things you can do to stay busy, if possible.


Volunteering and helping others is a great way to stay busy because not only are you helping someone else but you are doing something that is positive and rewarding. There are many things you can do to help others, such as volunteering at a local animal shelter, retirement community, hospital or by even volunteering your time to help neighbors, friends and family. This may help you to create bonds with others, which I think is also helpful for depression.


Playing an instrument may help with symptoms of depression by building confidence as well as distracting the mind in a positive way. If you have never played an instrument before, you may want to start now. Buy an instrument, take lessons or even teach yourself by using tutorials that can be found online on websites such as YouTube. I feel that music may have a healing effect on depression.


If you have drawers or cabinets that may need some organizing, you might want to try doing this to stay busy. When I am feeling depressed, I sometimes go through the drawers in my bedroom and clean them out. I either donate old clothes to charity or go through paperwork to see if I can get rid of excess clutter. Having an organized home and being productive helps with some of the depression I feel.


Sometimes depression may cause a lack of motivation. Doing anything that requires a lot of physical work may be hard. If this is the case, you may want to start writing in a journal. This is something that does not require a lot of physical work. I feel it is better to write positive things in a journal so that you can have something positive to look back on. For me, continually writing down negative thoughts and feelings in a journal makes me feel like I am overwhelming myself with negativity. You could jot down some happy memories, compliments that people have given you, cut out positive words and beautiful scenic pictures from magazines or print them from the internet and enter them all into your journal. This way when you are depressed, reading this journal of positivity may help diminish some negative thoughts and lift your mood.


Whether it be a video game on a console or through a mobile app, playing games may help to distract your mind from unwanted thoughts. Taking the time to pay attention and compete against others may help create bonding experiences as well help to sharpen your mind.


Isolation is one of the ways that some people deal may deal with depression. Retreating to a dark room or in a bedroom may feel comforting but it will most likely not help with the symptoms of depression. In some cases, if depression is very severe, lying in a bed or on a sofa may be all that you feel you can do. However, if you are able to, try to get out of the house. Being in the sun, breathing in fresh air and experiencing nature may help to alleviate some of your symptoms. You may want to go and take walk in a park, go fishing or even sit out front of your own house and watch nature. Simply being outdoors in fresh air may be uplifting. If you feel that you can not get out of the house, try opening windows and allowing fresh air and sunshine to come in. You may feel a difference in your depressive symptoms by doing this. I feel that natural light is more uplifting than artificial lighting in the house.

What has helped you most with depression?

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    • Sunshine Days profile image

      Sunshine Days 3 years ago

      That's great Denise, it's good to hear that writing on Hub pages helped you with your depression! Being unemployed certainly can cause or make depression worse.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      For me, depression really hit hard when I was unemployed for several months. I have always used meaningful activity to keep my emotions in check, just as suggested here. When I lost the structure of my job, it was so easy to just stay in bed! Then one day, I heard a knock above my head, like it was on the headboard. Literally, opportunity knocked, and I started writing on Hub Pages. The rest is history!

    • Sunshine Days profile image

      Sunshine Days 3 years ago

      That's good that you enjoy things and hobbies and that your bouts of depression are not as severe as they once were. Keep it up, you are an inspiration.

    • Anthony Moreau profile image

      Richard de Mey 3 years ago from Scottsdale, Arizona

      i've found many hobbies and things i enjoy, as i work towards where i want to be my moods have improved. i still have my bouts of depression but they are not as severe or as frequent as before

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I write when I feel a bit down. It help me release the stresses. But this was not easy at first. But slowly it became a habit of mine. It's better than simply wallowing in despair.