1. Try not to spend too much time with people who are miserable or pessimistic. Spend as much time as you can with people who are cheerful and optimistic.
2. Try to spend at least an hour every day doing something that you enjoy.
3. Take a break. Go away for a few days if you can. Don't take work with you - and don't tell anyone the telephone number.
4. Let yourself go occasionally. If you feel tense or uptight go outside and smash a tennis ball or football. Or dig the garden!
5. Learn to laugh. It really will make you feel better. Visit a local joke shop or toy shop. Buy books and magazines that you find entertaining and amusing rather than just educational. hire a funny video and invite one or two friends round to enjoy it with you.
6. Visit your local travel agent and pick up a collection of holiday brochures. Look through the illustrations and imagine that you are there - soaking up the sun.
7. Write down your problems. They'll seem less threatening when they're written down. And you'll be able to tackle them more easily too.
8. Don't be afraid to cry. Tears shed for emotional reasons contain special proteins - crying is a useful and constructive way of dealing with sadness. Crying will make you feel rested, calmer and happier.
9. Make sure that you have something to look forward to - an outing, a trip to the cinema or a meeting with friends.
10. Buy yourself a rocking chair. There is evidence to show that rocking backwards and forwards produces calming, relaxing hormones.
11. Try to reduce your exposure to stress and pressure. Look through your regular commitments - see where you can cut back.
12. Build up your self-confidence. People who suffer from depression often lack self-assurance. Write an advertisement for yourself listing all your good qualities. Carry your advert with you and look at it whenever you're feeling down.
13. Talk to your friends. Explain to them how you feel. If they are real friends they will want to listen - and want to help you. If you don't have any friends ring the Samaritans - the telephone number will be in the phone book.
14. Get a friend to give you a massage - it will help remove the tension from your muscles.
15. Go for a brisk walk. take big, deep breaths. You'll feel revitalised.
16. Check your diet. If you're eating irregularly or eating too much stodgy, junk food that can make you feel tired, lethargic and depressed. Make sure that you're eating plenty of fresh fruit. And remember - a little of what you fancy will do you good.
17. Make sure you get a good night's sleep. Do some hard physical exercise - a brisk walk maybe - then soak in a hot bath for 15 minutes. Get into bed with a good book. Or a partner you love. (Sex is a real antidote to mild depression).
18. Take up a new hobby - maybe something that you've always wanted to try. If you can't think of anything you want to try pop into your local library - you'll soon get some ideas.
19. Try to decide what is making you feel depressed. If you can change things do so. If you can't find an explanation talk to your doctor.
20. Have you got your priorities right? Make a list of the five most important things in your life. Do you spend enough time on them?
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2004