If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, you’re probably familiar with the sudden mood swings. One day you’re happy and content, the next you feel like the world is crashing down on you for no apparent reason. And, no, this does not make you crazy. This is something that everybody who struggles with depression encounters. Depression is a serious mental illness that should be treated by a professional, but there are also many strategies you can implement yourself in order to manage your moods.

Taking action and fighting your depression before it builds is crucial in order to appropriately combat it. Use these simple strategies to manage your moods and beat your depression:

Foster connections

Social connections are important for everybody, but especially for those who struggle with depression. Your depression probably tries convincing you to remain isolated; in the long run, that will only worsen your mood. Make plans and stick to them, be especially social on the days that are hardest. If you can manage depression on your difficult days, you can beat it any other time.

With the rise of social media, it’s important to remember the value of face-to-face interactions. Meet up with your friends and family in-person rather than sticking to texts and phone calls.

Stay active

Movement is one of the best self-help tools in fighting depression. Exercise releases endorphins, making it an automatic and natural mood booster. Create a regular workout schedule and stick to it; view exercise as taking a daily dose of medicine. If you’re not a gym person, no problem; you don’t have to force yourself to do any form of exercise that you don’t want to.

Find activities that you do enjoy – hiking, yoga, swimming, etc. so that when you exercise, it doesn’t feel forced. It’s also vital that you eat foods that fuel you and give you energy. Avoid alcohol, especially on days when you’re already feeling down.

Zumba dancingFind a creative outlet

Self-expression can be difficult, and sometimes it’s easier to explore our feelings without using words. Art, dance, music, and movement are all good ways to tap into a different part of your brain. Distract your mind from your depression.

Maintain a sleep schedule

When we’re stressed and busy, sleep is often one of the first things to get lost in the shuffle. This is dangerous because sleep is crucial to our mental health functioning and matters far more than many people think. Adults require approximately nine hours of sleep each night in order to perform well during the day. Skimping on a few hours here and there really adds up in the long run.

Combat sleep disruptions by creating a schedule and going to bed at relatively the same time every night. Turn off your electronics and give yourself time to unwind before you actually get into bed. Meditate, practice deep breathing, and turn on sleep sounds to help you get a more thorough night’s sleep.

Do the things you love

Sounds simple, right? In reality, though, hardly any of us are engaging in the activities we enjoy on a daily (or even weekly) basis. Make a list of the things that you like to do, and be sure to incorporate them into your lifestyle. Not sure of your interests? Experiment with new hobbies like rock climbing or volunteer work to find something that fulfills you.

Depression is not something to be taken lightly, and it’s always necessary to take professional help into consideration. By implementing the tools in this article along with maintaining a regular therapy schedule, you’ll be able to better manage your moods in order to beat depression.