Coping Skills and Strategies articles:
Cereal for Dinner is dedicated to helping people navigate life with depression. It is about giving people the tools and resources they need to live with depression beyond the 50-minute hour in the therapist’s office. Resources were compiled to reflect many aspects of wellness and are written in a step-wise format so you can choose the appropriate resource based on “where you’re at” in your depression journey. From “depression-friendly” recipes, to information about taking a leave of absence from school, to inspiring videos of hope, Cereal for Dinner offers a rich array of practical and curated resources, vetted by professionals and depression-sufferers alike.
Everyday health discusses ways to cope with discussion such as
- Talk to a Therapist
- Express Yourself in Writing
- Boost Your Self-Image
- Stick to a Schedule
- Stay Involved
- Depend on Others
- Sleep Well
- Enjoy the Emotional Benefits of Exercise
- Make the Food and Mood Connection
- Say No to Liquor
Infinite Mind Care provides a list of coping skills for anger, anxiety, and depression which includes:
- Write, draw, paint, photography
- Play an instrument, sing, dance, act
- Take a shower or a bath
- Take a walk, or go for a drive
- Watch television or a movie
- Watch cute kitten videos on YouTube
- Play a game
- Go shopping
- Clean or organize your environment
- Take a break or vacation
- Social/Interpersonal (with others)
- Talk to someone you trust
- Set boundaries and say “no”
- Write a note to someone you care about
- Be assertive
- Use humor
- Spend time with friends and/or family
- Serve someone in need
- Care for or play with a pet
- Role-play challenging situations with others
- Encourage others
- Cognitive (Of the Mind)
- Make a gratitude list
- Brainstorm solutions
- Lower your expectations of the situation
- Keep an inspirational quote with you
- Be flexible
- Write a list of goals
- Take a class
- Act opposite of negative feelings
- Write a list of pros and cons for decisions
- Reward or pamper yourself when successful
- Write a list of strengths
- Accept a challenge with a positive attitude
- Tension Releasers
- Exercise or play sports
- Catharsis (yelling in the bathroom, punching a punching bag)
- Get enough sleep
- Eat healthy foods
- Get into a good routine
- Eat a little chocolate
- Limit caffeine
- Deep/slow breathing
- Pray or meditate
- Enjoy nature
- Get involved in a worthy cause
- Limit Setting
- Drop some involvement
- Prioritize important tasks
- Use assertive communication
- Schedule time for yourself
U.S. News has a list of ways to cope with depression that includes:
- Antidepressant medication.
- A healthy diet.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Manage your stress.
- Electroconvulsive therapy.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation.
- Yoga and meditation.
Help Guide’s tips for coping with depression include:
- Reach out and stay connected
- How to reach out for depression support
- 10 tips for staying connected
- Do things that make you feel good
- Do things you enjoy (or used to)
- Support your health
- Develop a “wellness toolbox”
- Get moving
- Eat a healthy, depression-fighting diet
- Get a daily dose of sunlight
- Challenge negative thinking
- Put your thoughts on the witness stand
- When to get professional help for depression
The Coping Skills: Depression worksheet describes four research-supported techniques to alleviate symptoms of depression. These techniques include behavioral activation, using social support, positive journaling, and practicing mindfulness.
Three Ways to See Meaning in Your Life from Berkeley’s Greater Good
How to Clean Your House When You’re Depressed from Lifehacker How Online Stereotypes About Depression Can Make It Worse from Berkeley’s Greater Good
Member provided tips:
“Freezing” body parts with ice water (please use extreme caution if attempting this method as it can cause physical harm if taken too far or in those with certain medical conditions). This article explains this technique and the “mammalian diving reflex”: How to Calm Down from Extreme Emotions in 30 Seconds – Mindfulness Muse
Listening to music was brought up by nearly every group member. Music has been shown to have multiple psychological benefits, such as those discussed in this article: The Surprising Psychological Benefits of Music.
Both listening to music and singing has been found helpful among our group members. Benefits of Singing: 10 Ways Singing Boosts Your Health
Mind over mind – force your mind into a different place than where the mind is trying to take you. Alan Watts explains this concept in this nine minute video:
There is also a book version from Alan Watts: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32588764-mind-over-mind
Science journalist Chris Berdik also has a popular book titled Mind Over Mind: The Surprising Power of Expectations by Chris Berdik
Distraction is a common coping mechanism with our members. According to a Healthline article “Distraction differs from numbing in that while numbing aims to dull the emotional experience, distraction aims to create distance from the source of emotional distress so that you’re able to process those uncomfortable feelings. Coping techniques that qualify as distraction require that you go from an emotionally-driven story that your mind can spin, and shift into the present.”
Cleaning is a productive coping strategy that came up a couple times with our group. Check out this article that takes a look at the impact of cleaning on your mental health, including the benefits of cleaning and how to incorporate a cleaning schedule into your life.
Recognizing even our smallest accomplishments and moments of productivity is another helpful tip when dealing with depression. The Mighty has some ways to Celebrate Your ‘Small’ Accomplishments When You’re Depressed.
Getting self out of the house to visit a positive place for oneself such as the beach or a library. WebMD talks a little about what visiting the beach in particular can do for your mental health.
Helping others and/or being a listening ear is another way discussed in our group we cope with Depression. Our conversation on this tip is supported by this Psychology Today article.
Meditation has been found helpful by some. Healthline discusses meditation for depression.
Forcing yourself to participate in social interaction and staying connected with others can greatly benefit one’s mental health.
Journaling is a common and proven way of helping oneself cope with depression
Setting goals can be good for mental health
We also discussed how Severe Depression can put you into Survival mode. Sometimes people cope with depression by going all in. They surround themselves with darkness: dark movies, expressive writing, going into a trance, etc. Avoiding mood elevating media and experiences. Reducing the dissonance of an un-dark world by making it dark.
Others use the exact opposite: Surrounding themself with only happy things. Watching and listening to happy feel good shows, music, podcasts, etc. Using any mood-elevating experience they can find.
It is important that we each and always assess what we need IN THIS MOMENT. It’s helpful to create a toolbox of things to go to on the dark days so you have options ready.
One Mind PsyberGuide is a non-profit website dedicated to consumers seeking to make responsible and informed decisions about computer and device-assisted therapies for mental illnesses. The apps page allows you to filter by apps related to the specified condition, or treatment type. Explore the variety of apps at your leisure.
Apps to help depression reviews by Psyberguide (in order overall rating) to help you decide if any app is worth your time:
Dartmouth PATH Cost: Free. Get it on: Web Dartmouth PATH is a web-based training and treatment program designed to help resolve conflicts, manage stress, and improve mood. The four main parts of the course are Conflict, Mood, Stress, and a Guided Self-Assessment.
ePST Cost: $252.00. Get it on: Web ePST (electronic Problem-solving Treatment) is a web-based program aimed at reducing symptoms of mood disorders, stress, and anxiety through Problem Solving Therapy which is based on cognitive behavioral therapy. A virtual coach guides the user through a six step program: stating a problem, setting a goal, brainstorming solutions, choosing a solution, making an action plan, and enjoyable activities.
Happify: For Stress & Worry Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Happify aims to help users reduce stress, anxiety and negative thinking, and improve emotional well-being. Users create an account and answer a short questionnaire which helps the app suggest a “track” for the user. “Tracks” are groups of activities and games which help the user achieve their goals. Tracks are based on cognitive behavioral principles therapy, mindfulness and positive psychology and are created by professionals to help clients achieve specific goals.
Headspace Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Headspace is an app that aims to bring the principles of mindfulness meditation to users’ lives, and hopes to improve concentration and mood, reduce anxiety, and increase productivity.
MoodGYM Cost: Payment Required. Get it on: Web MoodGYM is a web-based program that offers education and skills-practice for users struggling with common symptoms of depression or anxiety. Using principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), MoodGYM encourages users to learn and practice new ways of thinking and reacting to daily situations.
This Way Up Cost: Payment Required. Get it on: Web This Way Up is a web-based program that provides information and skills for overcoming anxiety and depression. With clinician-assisted, self-help, and school-based-prevention modules, This Way Up can be used by many different kinds of users who need help to cope with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Woebot Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Woebot is an AI-powered chatbot that uses principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Woebot guides users through managing distressing thoughts and feelings. After creating an account, users message with Woebot in the app. Through check-ins, Woebot prompts users to enter their mood and details explaining their mood and responds by suggesting tools, skills, and strategies to help. In addition to messaging, users can view a chart of their mood entries over time, and view psychoeducational media.
BrainHQ Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store; Google Play; Web BrainHQ is a cognitive training program accessible by computer or mobile app. It aims to improve users’ cognitive performance, such as sharpening attention, enhancing memory, and speeding up thinking. BrainHQ has a number of online exercises that are divided into six categories: Attention, Brain Speed, Memory, People Skills, Intelligence, and Navigation.
Calm Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Calm is an app for mindful meditation. The home page shows a relaxing nature scene which can be customized to the user’s preference. Sections on the home page are: Music, Meditation and Sleep.
CogniFit Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web CogniFit is a cognitive training program intended to help users improve brain functioning. By playing specially created games, users can address many core cognitive functions, including working memory, visual processing, speed, and attention.
MoodMission Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play MoodMission is targeted at people experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression. The app provides different activities, or “missions”, based on how the user is feeling. Users select how they feel at a particular time (anxious, depressed, or neither), how distressing their feelings are, and choose from a range of options which best describes the problem (e.g. ‘I can’t stop thinking about something’ or ‘I can’t quite put my finger on it’). Based on the user’s responses, 5 missions are provided, with objectives and an explanation of why this activity may help.
Muse Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Muse is a wearable device in the form of a headband designed to sense the electrical rhythms of the brain. The headband is coupled with a smartphone app that monitors the user’s brain electrical activity in real time.
myStrength Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web myStrength is both a web and mobile application offered through healthcare providers, benefit plans, and similar sponsors. The application begins with general questions regarding interests in myStrength and then a more comprehensive questionnaire involving the user’s emotional state to personalize their settings. Along with provider information, the app has five sections of Home, Activities, Me, Progress, and Community.
Smiling Mind Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Smiling Mind is an app that offers guided training in mindfulness meditation with the aim to help users achieve better mental health and balance. With programs targeted to users in different age groups (7-9; 10-12; 13-15; 16-18; and Adults), Smiling Mind provides an assortment of directed practice sessions that teach the fundamentals of mindfulness meditation.
SuperBetter Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play SuperBetter is a gamified program intended to help users build resilience, defined as “the ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of difficult challenges.” SuperBetter aims to help the user track their goals and achievements, while also providing education about the importance of each activity.
Unmind Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Unmind is a web and mobile application offered through employers. Unmind uses principles of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) including third wave approaches, mindfulness, and positive psychology to help provide proactive mental wellness support to employees.
Be Mindful Cost: Payment Required. Get it on: Web Be Mindful is a web-based program that offers users basic principles of mindfulness to help manage the problems of everyday life. The program is broken down into 10 modules that can be completed online over 4 weeks and provides education and practice in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
Good Days Ahead Cost: Payment Required. Get it on: Web Good Days Ahead is a web-based, interactive psychoeducation package that works with the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of anxiety and depression. The program is mainly marketed to clinicians who use the program to supplement traditional psychotherapy, but it can also be purchased directly by consumers if desired.
HAPPYneuron Pro Cost: Payment Required. Get it on**: Web** HAPPYneuron Pro is a web-based cognitive remediation suite designed to be used by qualified professionals treating individuals suffering from disorders in cognitive functioning.
Lumosity Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Lumosity offers one free “training game” per day, with the option to purchase unlimited gameplay via monthly subscription. With a premium subscription, users can also track their progress in each category over time, both in comparison to past scores as well as to others in their age group.
MoodKit Cost: $4.99. Get it on: Apple App Store MoodKit is an app designed to help users experiencing depression. Based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), MoodKit offers users a variety of tools to support the user.
MyLife Meditation (formerly Stop, Breathe & Think) Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web MyLife Meditation is a web-based program and mobile app for mindfulness. The app guides users through the basic steps of mindfulness: identifying thoughts and emotions in the moment while practicing meditative techniques to achieve a relaxed state. MyLife Meditation first has users rate their mood in a unique “check-in” system and then identifies one or more brief mindfulness meditation exercises that might be helpful.
Peak Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Peak aims to deliver short and engaging cognitive training games. The app offers a suite of games that address cognitive processes in 8 areas: Memory, Attention, Problem Solving, Mental Agility, Language, Coordination, Creativity and Emotion Control.
Sanvello: Anxiety & Depression Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it On: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Sanvello uses principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help users with symptoms of anxiety, depression or stress. Users complete a self assessment questionnaire and receive anxiety, stress and depression scores. Sanvello uses these scores to track the user’s progress over time and to provide personalized activities and exercises.
COGPACK Cost: Payment Required. Get it on: Web COGPACK is a cognitive remediation suite that offers cognitive remediation solutions for clinicians and their clients. While it is recommended for use with a qualified provider, there is a version available for users at home on their own.
7Cups: Online Therapy Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web 7Cups is an app that connects consumers to peers or licensed online mental health professionals. The app allows users to chat with people 1-on-1, or join group chats to discuss any mental health-related topic. There are communities that users can join based on various needs for support, such as addiction support and anxiety support. There are also communities for young people of color (POC), hobbies, or for positivity and gratitude. 7Cups features a “Path” system that includes goal setting and psychoeducation about varying mental health conditions.
IntelliCare Hub Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web IntelliCare Hub is a part of the Intellicare Suite* of mental health apps. It provides users with assessments of their moods and overall mental health. The app has four main sections “History”, “Assessments”, “Apps”, and “Resources”.
IntelliCare: Daily Feats Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Web Daily Feats is part of the Intellicare Suite* of mental health apps. Daily Feats is designed to help users plan and take small, manageable steps to improve symptoms of depression.
IntelliCare: Day to Day Cost: Free. Get it on: Google Play, Apple App Store Day To Day is part of the Intellicare Suite* of mental health apps. Day to Day is designed to help users create and implement small steps to improve their mood, and “day-to-day” experience. Day To Day reminds users to complete daily challenges to “Activate Pleasure”, “Solve Problems”, “Challenge Thinking”, “Cultivate Gratitude”, and “Increase Connectedness” with their social supports. The app provides options to customize and schedule reminders that fit the user’s needs with small reminders throughout the day and/or week.
IntelliCare: My Mantra Cost: Free. Get it on: Google Play, Apple App Store, Web My Mantra is part of the Intellicare Suite* of mental health apps. My Mantra allows users to create and remind themselves of daily mantras (e.g. “I am awesome”, “I can do anything I put my mind to”). The app encourages users to create Mantras that are meaningful for them, and assign photos to each mantra . The app offers customization options, as well as the opportunity to set reminders to view the users’ mantras and associated photos.
IntelliCare: Thought Challenger Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Web Thought Challenger is part of the Intellicare Suite* of mental health apps. Thought Challenger uses principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), to help users challenge their automatic negative thoughts.
Meru Health Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Meru is an app designed to help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and burnout while increasing resilience. It is based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness. The app also integrates heart rate variability biofeedback, to help users self-regulate and track their physical responses to stress. The app includes support from a licensed therapist, and access to peer support groups via the online community at Meru. Users are provided with guided programs and exercises to complete throughout 12 weeks. Users can track their progress in reducing symptoms of mental health challenges.
Nod Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store * While Nod is free to download, it is only available at institutions of higher education who partner with Nod to deliver it to their students. Visit www.heynod.com for more information.
Virtual Hope Box Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play Virtual Hope Box is a multi-media coping skill app designed for individuals struggling with depression (particularly military service members). The four main features of Virtual Hope Box include sections for distraction, inspiration, relaxation, and coping skill options.
Wysa Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Wysa is an artificially intelligent (AI) chatbot who can coach users to better cope with daily stresses. Wysa is designed to help with a variety of issues, including depression, anxiety, sleep, issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, and more.
Daylio Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play Daylio is designed to help users to record and track mood over time. Each day users can record their mood, activities they did, and any other notes. Users can also view all of their previous entries.
GG Self Esteem & Confidence Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play GG Self Esteem is an app designed to improve user confidence by playing training games. Based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) principles, GGSE aims to change negative thinking habits and improve the user’s ability to cope with challenges. Users can choose among a variety of mental health goals, (e.g. self-esteem, body image, depression, OCD) which tailors the app’s exercises to the needs of the individual.
NeuroFlow Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Downloading NeuroFlow requires an invitation from a healthcare provider or specialist. Users are provided a ‘To do list’ of activities to help manage areas they want to improve (ex: sleep, stress, pain, etc). By completing activities, users earn points which can be converted into gift cards.
Sinasprite Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Sinasprite is a game which helps users practice tools based on mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy to manage stress and anxiety. Once a user creates their account and completes a quick assessment, users are led through various gamified exercises by the game’s main character, Socks the Fox. Coping tools and exercises include meditation, digital painting and journaling. The app also teaches users about various concepts such as scheduling worries and understanding locus of control.
Talkspace Counseling & Therapy Cost: Free. Get it on: Google Play, Apple App Store, Web Talkspace is an app and web service designed for users seeking online psychotherapy. Users are paired with a licensed therapist after a free consultation. Talkspace offers therapists that specialize in various backgrounds (e.g. stress and anxiety, depression, PTSD, LGBTQ issues, work/life issues, and couples’ therapy)
ACT Companion: Happiness Trap Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web ACT Companion: Happiness Trap uses acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to help users overcome anxiety, stress, depression, and other clinical issues. A main feature of this app is the guided meditations. ACT Companion: Happiness Trap has over two and a half hours of guided mindfulness audio tracks. Tracks last between five and fifteen minutes and cover topics such as Notice Your Emotion, Observing Your Thoughts, and The Observing Self. Additionally, ACT Companion: Happiness Trap groups its exercises into three groups: Be Present, Open Up, and Do What Matters. In each group there are guided mindfulness audio tracks and exercises.
Moodnotes – CBT & Mood Tracker Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store Moodnotes is a mood tracking and journaling app that uses skills from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help improve thinking habits. Users create entries by selecting a matching emoji and making notes to go along with their mood. Moodnotes features an “Insights” section which shows users their mood over time and what thinking traps they may be falling into.
Positive Activity Jackpot Cost: Free. Get it on: Google Play, Apple App Store Positive Activity Jackpot is most suitable for adults struggling with depression to teach them skills and help them engage in pleasant activities. There are two main features of the app: “Jackpot” or “Find Something Nearby.” “Jackpot” allows the user to choose from various categories of activities (i.e. water activities, shopping, thoughts, travel) and pull a slot-machine style lever to provide a specific suggestion. “Find Something Nearby” uses “pleasant event scheduling” (PES) to suggest nearby activities ranging from a 0 to 20-mile radius. Positive Activity Jackpot allows for either tailored or general suggestions for a personalized event plan conducted in groups or alone.
Remente – Self Improvement Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it On: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Remente is a self-monitoring and goal setting app where users can track progress in social, romantic, physical, professional, personal, familial, recreational, and financial aspects of life.
Total Brain Cost: Free. Get it On: Apple App Store, Google Play Total Brain is an app that aims to helps educate the user about mental health while developing self-awareness around the user’s mental status. Upon first use, app users are guided through a 20 minute brain performance assessment, the results of which are used to tailor and prioritize the app’s content for the new user.
Clinicom Get it on: Web Clinicom is a web-based application which provides a comprehensive evidence-based assessment to inform treatment for clients and mental health clinicians. Through a link provided by the provider, clients are given a list of questions which adapt based on the client’s responses. Clinicians can view the client’s results and are given a set of recommended diagnoses, with options to create follow up assessments and track client progress.
Cogmed Get it on: Web CogMed is a web-based cognitive training suite available through affiliated schools or clinics. With help from a CogMed Coach, users are tasked to complete five to ten weeks of visuospatial and verbal tasks designed to improve working memory in users struggling with cognitive difficulties. This includes assessments prior to and after completion, which lets users track their progress and consolidate their gains. Training sessions last 25-50 minutes each and adapt to the user’s capability as they progress through the program.
CalmHarm Cost: Free. Get it on: Google Play, Apple App Store Calm Harm is an app designed to help manage self-harm. Based on principles from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Calm Harm teaches teenagers to resist and manage urges to hurt themselves. In addition to providing basic information about self-harm, Calm Harm includes four modules: ‘Distract’, to focus attention off of the urge; ‘Comfort’, to build positive self-regard and constructive habits; ‘Express’, to communicate negative emotions in more effective ways; and ‘Release’, with alternative behaviors for safely venting an unbearable urge.
Mindfulness Coach Cost: Free. Get it on: Apple App Store, Google Play, Web Mindfulness Coach helps to teach, guide, and track mindfulness skills for Veterans and Service Members. The app utilizes educational tools to summarize how incorporating mindfulness can alleviate both physical, emotional and/or mental stress, and its benefits when used for individuals struggling with PTSD. Mindfulness Coach emphasizes focus on the present moment in efforts to alleviate anxiety and stress, as well as cope with chronic physical pain.
UpLift – Depression & Anxiety Cost: Free with in-app purchases. Get it on: Apple App Store UpLift – Depression & Anxiety uses principles of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to help users with depression and anxiety. The app creates a plan based on how many sessions users can do per week and what their outcome goal is. UpLift provides 12 personalized and interactive sessions which consist of answering questions, mental exercises, and customized feedback and guidance.
Apps rated below 3/5 or not yet rated are not included in the above list.
An app Blue has been loving lately:
Finch – Your New Self Care Best Friend.Meet your emotional support companion to finally make daily self care fun! Take care of your pet by taking care of yourself! Join Finch with my invite code 7W66J4A5VJ and get 600 Rainbow Stones! https://app.befinch.com/share/yRC1
Additional app reviews:
The 9 Best Depression Apps of 2021 via Healthline
The Best Mental Health Apps of 2022 via Very Well Mind