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“Recovering from depression takes time. The new habits and skills you learn now will you help throughout your life.”

Battling depression is tough. Thankfully, there are many ways you can fight depression.

What works one day may not work as well the next, so you want as many tools in the toolbox to adapt and handle whatever depression throws your way. Similar to how symptoms of depression overlap and affect each other, some of the tips below overlap and can help address multiple symptoms.

Here are some tips for coping with depression:

1. Challenging negative thinking

Being able to recognize when depression is pulling you down is the first step toward recovery. When depressed, all sorts of negative thoughts can get stuck in our heads, so it’s important to be able to keep these in check. For tips and strategies to manage these thoughts see our page on Negative Thinking

2. Shift your attention

If your mood is weighing you down to the point where it feels impossible to challenge your thoughts, then try taking a step back to concentrate on something else. This can be especially helpful when trying to deal with and overcome suicidal thoughts. Mindfulness exercises can be helpful in shifting attention away from negative thoughts.

3. Set small goals

Depression can make the simplest tasks seem daunting, so you’re going to have to work on breaking things down into small and concrete tasks. For example, instead of getting stuck thinking ‘how am I going to get to work everyday this week’, think about getting to work today, then break it down even further.

  1.     Get out of bed.
  2.     Have a shower and shave.
  3.     Get dressed.
  4.     Eat breakfast.
  5.     Head to work.

Each time you complete a step, give yourself credit. Simply getting out of bed when fighting depression is an accomplishment and if that’s all you can do one day, that’s okay. Push yourself but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t keep up to your usual pace.

4. Focus on the essentials

Sleep, food, physical activity – do your best to keep on top of these as they can make a huge impact on your ability to successfully manage depression.

Make sure to think ‘physical activity’ and not ‘exercise’. Going for a short walk, doing household chores, or anything that gets you up and moving counts. Getting outside and into the sun can also help. Here are five simple tips on keeping active.

5. Keep doing things

This might seem hard at first, because you probably won’t have the same amount of energy you normally do, but part of fighting depression is simply giving your mind something else to think about (and a rest from depressed thoughts).

Try concentrating your attention anywhere else – go for a walk, work on a hobby, meet a friend for coffee. The main thing here is that you want to avoid lying about and stewing in misery all day. Once you get going, you’ll also usually find you have more energy than you thought you would.

6. Reach out to friends and family

A lot of guys hide feeling depressed from the very people that could help the most.

Talking about what’s causing you stress or bringing you down can help lessen the intensity of these thoughts.[1] Give those closest to you a chance to help out. Here are some tips on talking to a friend or family member.

7. Talk to a therapist

Talking to a therapist about depression is like seeing a physical therapist after a serious leg injury. If you want to get the best advice possible, you need to talk to an expert.

Remember, therapy isn’t about crying or pointless complaining; it’s about learning what’s underlying your depression, developing new skills for managing the stuff that life thows at us, and working toward improving and enjoying your life.[2] When it comes to depression, there is no substitute for seeking professional help – if you’re feeling depressed, connect with a therapist as soon as you can. It’s that straightforward. Learn more about talk therapy and how to find a therapist, browse our HeadsUpGuys Therapist Directory to connect with a therapist in your area, or read through our Guide to Talk Therapy for Men.

8. Keep some humour in your life

Finding ways to make yourself laugh provides your mind with a break from all the negative thoughts depression brings.[3]

Whether this involves talking a friend, watching a funny show or movie, or following a humorous account on social media, it can all help.

9. Avoid or limit alcohol and other substance use

Some of the tips above are about coping with depression by distracting ourselves. Drinking and other substance use may feel like a way to distract, distance, or numb yourself from the pains of depression, but it isn’t a healthy way to do it and will always turn into a bigger problem. Take a look at our article on alcohol use and depression to learn how to make better decisions regarding alcohol use when depressed.

10. Give yourself credit

We know how hard it is to fight depression, so we cannot stress this enough –  be proud of any steps and progress you make, even if it takes longer than you hoped.

Recovering from depression takes time. The new habits and skills you learn now will you help throughout your life.

Next Steps:


  1. Jensen, M., Smith, A., Bombardier, C., Yorkston, K., Miró, J., & Molton, I. (2013). Social support, depression, and physical disability: Age and diagnostic group effects. Disability and Health Journal, 7(2), 164-172.
  2. Cuijpers, P., Quero, S., Noma, H., Ciharova, M., Miguel, C., Karyotaki, E., Cipriani, A., Cristea, I., & Furukawa, T. (2021). Psychotherapies for depression: a network meta-analysis covering efficacy, acceptability, and long-term outcomes of all main treatment types. World Psychiatry, 20(2), 283- 293.
  3. Yim, J. (2016). Therapeutic benefits of laughter in mental health: A theoretical review. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, 239(3), 243-249.


Men's Health Week takes place annually in mid-June, during the week preceding Father’s Day. The week is not just a campaign, but a call to action for men to take better care of their health and for communities to support men in this endeavour.

Men's Health Week 2024