1. Live in the now:
Sometimes it feels as if you can replay childhood memories like a movie, and these scenes take on more importance than other life events. Freud called such past moments "screen memories" because we tend to filter our lives through them. Even though these memories may appear as clear today as yesteryear, they keep you from letting go and moving forward. Instead of dwelling in the past, live for today.
2. Be true to you:
Mirroring, or pinging, is the feedback you receive from trusted loved ones. You use these sonar signals like dolphins that ping their way through jagged shoals to open water. They key is to deflect the negative energy from others' comments and follow your own heart.
3. Sweat to smile:
The effects exercise has on your brain are just as beneficial as the effects on your physical appearance. "Physical activity stimulates the feel-good chemical dopamine, which increases our sense of well-being," explains Stephen Ilardi, Ph.D., author of The Depression Cure (Da Capo Press). In fact, according to a study from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, a run outside or cycling in a Spin class may be just as effective in relieving mild to moderate depression as the antidepressant Zoloft. Going through a divorce, a death in the family or some other tough change in your life? Consider renewing your gym membership an investment in your health and happiness.
4. Get your beauty rest:
People who have insomnia have a fivefold risk of developing depression compared with those who are well rested, according to a study from the University of North Texas in Denton. Aim for seven to eight hours of shut-eye per night.
5. Find your breath:
Some studies suggest that regular meditation reduces the recurrence of depression as effectively as medication. Start off small: Just close your eyes and listen to your breath. If your mind begins to wander, let your thoughts go and refocus on inhaling and exhaling. Practice with a pen and paper beside you. If thoughts are reoccurring, write them down so you know they are in safe place and can return to them later.
6. Let the sun shine in (literally):
Depressed people exposed to bright light for an hour upon waking for five weeks experienced a 54 percent improvement in symptoms in a study from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Luckily, it's the perfect time of year to spend plenty of time outdoors.
7. Upgrade your diet:
"The omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish help the brain respond to signals from the mood chemicals dopamine and serotonin," says Stephen Ilardi, Ph.D., author of The Depression Cure (Da Capo Press). Add colorful fruits and veggies as a side to your salmon and you'll also protect your brain from inflammation that can trigger a bout of depression.
8. We all gotta have friends:
Nothing beats the blues like a close pal you can cry with, laugh with and maybe even indulge in a pint of Ben & Jerry's with. Research from the University of Chicago revels that a close circle of friends can be critical to your happiness; lonely people have increased levels of depression. Open a bottle of red, watch your favorite movie, or have some fun at the beach with some close friends. Watch the stress melt away!