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10 Small Physical Activities That Help with Depression

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If you are dealing with depression, chances are the mere thought of doing any type of exercise is overwhelming. Right now, you may be struggling to put one foot in front of the other or even get off the couch. When we are feeling awful, it’s kind of hard to feel motivated to do much of anything! This is particularly true if we are feeling the physical effects of depression.

But what if you could push back against the crushing sadness – even just a little – by doing a few things here and there to help elevate your mood?

Time and again, research shows that physical activity is a powerful force against depression. Many people believe they need to be motivated in order to engage in exercise. In truth, it is the other way around. Doing something physical actually sparks motivation. It’s a paradox to be sure and one of the mysteries of the human mind.

If you are in a place of deep, dark depression, I am not suggesting that you try to force yourself to go to the gym or engage in a strength training program.  What I am suggesting however, is that by doing a few low impact physical activities at home, you can incrementally boost your mood by gaining a sense of accomplishment. That’s what many celebrities do, including mega-watt stars like Channing Tatum and Zac Efron.

That sense of accomplishment over the course of time has a way of building on itself, which later can be cashed in for more intense physical activity when your mood improves. Make sense?

What follows are 10 small physical activities that help with depression. These activities don’t require much concentration, which is something many struggle with when they are feeling blue. The idea here is to build momentum.

Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!

1. Take the stairs to get the mailtom welling

2. Walk your dog around the block

3. Wash out your coffee pot

4. Walk to your local market to buy a premade meal

5. Organize your home office desk

6. Vacuum your living room

7. Polish a few pieces of furniture

8. Wash out your garbage cans

9. Do one load of laundry from start to finish

10. Organize a drawer or a closet

Final Thoughts

When you feel totally depressed, it is understandable that you don’t want to do much of anything. This is particularly true if you are dealing with situational depression, caused by loss, rejection or the collapse of a relationship.

You shouldn’t try to force yourself to engage in activities you lack energy for. You can however, push back against the sadness in tiny ways. Over the course of time, these tiny things can help propel you away from depression’s intense gravitational pull.

There are other things you can do as well to help boost your energy when you are feeling down. The goal is to start out small and take one step at a time.  Keep in mind that what you are feeling now will pass – it is not forever. Brighter days are coming!

What are some small things you can do right now to help give you a sense of accomplishment and lift your mood?

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10 Small Physical Activities That Help with Depression

John D. Moore, PhD

Described as folksy and down to earth, Dr. John Moore infuses current events and pop culture into his posts as a way of communicating wider points on issues related to wellness and goal attainment. His work has been featured in nationally syndicated media, including Cosmo, Men's Fitness and CBS Market Watch. He is a consultant to a number of Fortune 500 companies and institutions of Higher Learning. Dr. Moore is author of Confusing Love with Obsessionand Editor in Chief at: Guy Counseling.

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APA Reference
Moore, J. (2014). 10 Small Physical Activities That Help with Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Nov 2014
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