10 Easy Coping Skills for Depression

In Education, Emotional Health, Mental Health, Self-Care, Wellness by Courtney ArcherLeave a Comment

The thing about depression is that it is exhausting. Depression takes a lot of energy to function with and can make the idea of trying to cope with it daunting. Sometimes the best coping skills for depression are the easy coping skills for depression.

When talking or thinking about coping skills, it is natural to think of the ones you have always heard. For example, walking or talking with friends are common recommendations.

But what if your depression is so overwhelming that going for a walk might as well be climbing Mount Everest? What if you are feeling so low in motivation that the idea of talking with a friend might as well be hosting your own radio show?

This is where easy depression coping skills come in. These are things that do not require going out in public, a big time commitment, or any level of being socially presentable. You can do them in your house with things that you have on hand.

You might look at them and think, “What the heck is eating a chocolate chip going to do for me?” The thing about doing little things to feel better is that they add up. A step in the right direction, no matter how small, always puts you closer to your goals than staying immobile.

easy coping skills for depression

Easy Coping Skills for Depression

Alright, so let’s talk about coping skills for a quick second. If you want an in-depth understanding of what they are and how to use them, read the article I wrote about them: Coping Skills: What they Are & How to Use Them. However, for a quick and functional explanation, just stay right here.

Basically, coping skills are strategies that you can utilize to improve your mood and modulate your stress. They work by giving you an increased sense of satisfaction, relief, and wonder.

It is helpful to identify which of these things will help you most with your depression. For example, if you find yourself getting stuck in the mire of hopelessness, targeting your sense of wonder is a great way to remind your brain that there are good things in your life.

On the other hand, if you are experiencing the weight of feelings of worthlessness, you might benefit most from doing something that gives you a sense of satisfaction. Reminding yourself that you are capable of accomplishing things is a good way to lift some of that weight off your shoulders.

Or, if you find yourself struggling with constant dread or exhaustion, you might find that using some easy depression coping skills that target your sense of relief is exactly what you need. So take a second to figure out what the heaviest part of your depression is and start there.

Description of how easy coping skills for depression can help.

Easy Depression Coping Skills to Increase Satisfaction

The goal behind these easy coping skills for depression that increase satisfaction is that they give you a sense of accomplishment. It is easy, when pursuing a sense of satisfaction, to get wrapped up in big projects and grand ideas.

However, when depression enters the mix, everything starts seeming like a big project or grand idea. These satisfaction-specific depression coping skills are easy peasy, but will also help you feel like you have done something. Effort is not always equal to effect, especially in the case of the following easy coping skills for depression.

Wash Your Face

Showering is a whole ordeal when just getting out of bed is an accomplishment. So give yourself permission to skip the shower today and just wash your face instead. It is amazing what a difference splashing some warm water on your face can make.

Just like taking a shower can help you feel more put together and ready to face your day, washing your face can help you feel like you are more prepared for whatever the day brings your way. Additionally, it does not take even close to the amount of effort that showering takes.

If you are starting to feel like one day runs into the next and like you have become one big pile of blah, try washing your face. Or just brushing your teeth, or just giving yourself a quick sponge bath in the stinky spots. Pick one hygiene task and give yourself permission for that to be enough today.

Quote with reminder that effort doesn't always equal effect.

Wash One Dish

Similar to showering, sometimes doing the dishes can get overwhelming. They pile up, they smell bad, and it only takes a few days to go from a clean sink to a massive undertaking.

The thing is that, when faced with a sink full of dishes, the idea of having to wash all of them can feel impossible. So don’t wash them all. Wash one. If you are feeling really ambitious, maybe consider washing two so that you can have a dish and a utensil to eat off it with.

Another way to do this is to set a timer and only wash dishes for one minute. You would be surprised at how many dishes you can wash in one minute!

Ultimately, though, the idea of this coping skill is to do something small to improve something big. You do not have to do everything all together to do something today.

Make a Cup of Tea/Hot Cocoa/Instant Coffee

In case you are not already catching on, there is a theme in these easy coping skills for depression: keep it simple. This one is no different. If cooking for yourself or making a meal is too much to start with, then don’t.

Now, I am not advocating for not eating. I am just saying that when you are starting your day and already feeling overwhelmed, it is okay to postpone making breakfast or lunch until after you have been awake for a bit. Instead, make yourself something warm that will give you some kind of boost, whether from the flavor or a bit of sugar or caffeine.

This easy coping skill is great because it will increase your sense of satisfaction, but when you drink the tea, cocoa, or coffee, it will also add to your sense of relief. Take an extra minute or two to enjoy it, and it will give you the extra benefit of soothing while giving you some satisfaction.

Reminder that doing something small can have big improvements.

Easy Depression Coping Skills to Increase Relief

If you are finding yourself feeling overburdened or overwhelmed, chances are good that increasing your sense of relief is a good place to start. The coping skills below are meant to help distract, so that you can get enough space from your problems to engage with them in a more helpful manner later.

Some of them might also give you a sense of satisfaction or wonder. It is the nature of coping skills that when you get help in one area, it also improves other areas. Feel free to use these easy depression coping skills however works best for you.

Read/Watch Something Engaging

Sometimes we all just need a break. A great way to escape for a bit is to do something distracting. It is a lot harder to ruminate on everything wrong with your life when your mind is occupied by something else.

A couple of easy ways to give your brain something else to think about is to read or watch something fictional. If you cannot stand fiction, then feel free to find something factual, but try to stay away from current events. For example, you might read an autobiography from the 1800s or watch a documentary about crayons, or something like that.

However, if you can tolerate fiction, sometimes that can be the best escape because your brain is less likely to find things to relate to and then ruminate on. Fiction is relatable in that people face great challenges in fiction and in reality, but you might be a little less likely to think about your crappy job when reading about a rebellious uprising against an evil overlord vs when reading about how current events are affecting the economy.

So, pick a nice book or movie (or youtube video or poem, etc. etc.) and let it occupy your attention for a few minutes. If you find your mind returning to your worries, kindly remind your mind that you are coping and will get back to those worries soon enough.

Easy coping skills for depression can help with finding some relief.

Massage Your Neck

Giving yourself a little massage is a great way to give yourself some of the attention you need while also helping out the muscles in your neck that tend to tense with stress. No need to muscle through this, just apply some gentle pressure to the sides of your spine and the base of your skull.

Add your shoulders in or don’t–this is your massage and you only need to do as much as will give you a spot of relief. If you cannot raise your hands high enough to massage your neck, try massaging one of your hands or one of your feet.

The body carries stress in multiple places. A great way to get some relief is to take a little moment to assess where you could ease some of that tension and do so.


You have probably heard, “just breathe,” a time or two when you have been stressed, and it may or may not have been helpful. The fact is that breathing can help relieve stress, and there are also some things you can do that can make it more helpful.

Just taking a deep breath is a great start, but applying a little bit of strategy and using just a few more seconds can really make a difference. There are a number of different patterned breathing exercises you can do. For these easy coping skills for depression, we are focusing on the simplest ones.

My personal favorite is 5 for 5 breathing. Hold up both your hands, using one to count up to five as you breathe in and back down to one as you breathe out. Use your other hand to keep track of the number of times you have done it, with the goal of doing it five times.

Another great one is to picture a square in your mind, tracing one side as you breathe in, another side as you hold that breath for a couple of seconds, the third side as you breathe out, and the fourth side as you hold that for a couple of seconds.

Both of these strategies add in a visual aspect, and counting makes it harder for your brain to fly off to other things. In the end, that extra attention to breathing is a great way to get some relief and a little space from the things that are stressing you out.

Quote with reminder to take it easy on yourself.

Easy Depression Coping Skills to Increase Wonder

While most articles about coping skills address the usefulness of increasing your sense of satisfaction or relief, your sense of wonder is just as important. Sometimes in the tiring struggle of depression, it can be hard to remember that there are lovely and beautiful things in the world.

The easy coping skills for depression below are meant to target exactly that. They are meant to help you remind yourself that even if life has bad things in it, it also has good things. Try them out to remind yourself that there are still things that you love in your life.

Listen to Music

Music is a magical, beautiful thing. It is kind of bizarre, when you think about it, that a bunch of random notes and rhythms can be combined into something that brings so much joy. Whether you love all music or you’re a bit of a music snob, you undoubtedly have a musician or composer that just makes you feel something when you listen to their work.

Pick one of your favorite songs that makes you feel something and listen to it. I would suggest NOT choosing something that makes you feel angry or depressed–the goal is to relieve stress, not add to it. Choose something that makes you feel peaceful or inspired, something that helps you remember that your life has beautiful things in it.

Check Your Pulse

Placing a couple of fingers on the inside of your wrist or on the side of your neck below your jaw, feel your pulse as it beats. While you feel your heartbeat, think about all the work your heart does to keep you alive.

Beat after beat, whether quick with stress or steady with calm, your heart beats. Whether you love your life or hate it, your heart keeps you going. It is a constant in your life, carrying you oxygen and healing as it pulses on through thick and thin.

Feel that pulse and allow yourself to feel grateful for the parts of you that work as they should, that keep you going so that you can find your next bright and joyful moment. Hearts are beautiful, wonderful things.

Look at the Sky

Going for a walk requires spending time outside, which usually means some kind of outerwear and preparation. A walk is a great option if you have the energy and the time, but if you do not, there is an even easier option.

Just step outside, or even take a glance out the window, and take a minute or two to look at the sky. Notice the colors, the way the horizon makes a line in the distance, and how it does or doesn’t match the weather or season.

If you are in a window-less room, you can still do this by closing your eyes and imagining the sky. This gives you the added benefit of being able to imagine it any way you want to–a starry night sky, a sunset sky, one that is stormy and moody, or one that is the bluest of blues without a cloud in sight. Using your imagination is another easily accessible way to increase your sense of wonder.

Reminder to be grateful.

Eat a Chocolate Chip

Another easy way to increase your sense of wonder is to eat a bit of something you enjoy and to do so mindfully. Note that the title of this one is, “Eat a Chocolate Chip,” not, “Eat a Bag of Chocolate Chips.”

Now, you can have more than just one chocolate chip (or jelly bean or raisin or whatever little thing you are eating), the real point of this is to eat something you like and to do it mindfully.

Eating mindfully might sound complicated, but it mostly just means to slow down and really experience what you are doing. When eating a chocolate chip, this might look like rolling the chocolate chip between your fingers, noticing the texture of it and how that changes as it warms to your touch.

Smell it before you pop it in your mouth, and then instead of chewing it twice and swallowing, take some time to notice how it feels, tastes, and even sounds as you chew. There is a whole experience here that you might have never had, and it only takes a few more seconds than just eating that chocolate chip.

In Conclusion

Coping skills are only as useful as they are doable, and sometimes the easier ones are best because they are the ones that you can/will actually do. Remember to keep in mind whether it is satisfaction, relief, or wonder that would serve you best, and then pick an easy coping skill for depression from that category.

Please remember that you do not need to struggle with depression alone. It is amazing what therapy, medication, and treatment can do. I highly recommend checking out Psychology Today to find a qualified, licensed professional near you.

If you have any easy coping skills of your own that did not make it on this list, feel free to share them in the comments below!

Reminder that it only takes a few seconds to use these easy coping skills for depression to make a difference.

Want to learn more? Recommended articles below:

Coping Skills: What they Are & How to Use Them

10 Solid Social Anxiety Coping Skills

10 Effective Coping Skills for Anxiety

Easy 3-Step Self-Care Depression Checklist

Top 10 Best Self-Care Tips for Mental Health

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