Depression is difficult, but there are handy mental tricks you can use, which are proven to work well to lift your mood. Use these mental tricks to build a more positive mindset and keep the black dog at bay.

1. Don’t catastrophize

Stop thinking about the worst-case scenario, and all the things that could possibly go wrong. Instead, step back and take a realistic look at life. Nothing is ever the end of the world, after all.

2. Stop ruminating

A lot of bad moods are worsened by the fact that you keep thinking about them, and feeling sorry for yourself. Stop being so concerned with how you feel. You’ll never change things by getting stuck in thinking about them – take action instead, to make things better.

3. Get perspective

If you think your depression has been fueled by a specific event, make sure you’re not blowing things out of proportion. A chat with a caring friend may help you to see your way through the fog.

4. Focus on the positives

Realize that your mood may be magnifying the bad things in life, and you may find yourself focusing on the negative. Instead, look for what’s good in a situation, even if it’s just a lesson or a chance to grow stronger.

5. Don’t over-analyze

Running through exactly what has gone wrong, and picking it to pieces, rarely helps. Instead of endlessly going over the problem, and getting bogged down in the details, start thinking about possible solutions.

6. Be kind to yourself

When people feel bad, they sometimes talk to themselves unkindly, and beat themselves up. What you need right now is a friend, not an enemy. Make sure your words and deeds are gentle and encouraging.

7. Don’t dwell on the past

It’s totally pointless to worry about the past, because you can’t change it. The best thing about the past is that it’s over. Allow yourself to move on.

8. Don’t fret about the future

The only power you have to change things is in the present moment, so it’s a waste of time worrying about the future, especially as you have no idea how things may turn out. Instead, take positive steps now, so you can handle whatever life throws at you.

9. Avoid black-and-white thinking

If something has gone wrong, or you made one mistake, it doesn’t mean that your whole life is doomed, or that you’re no good. Cut yourself slack and consider a more balanced version of events.

10. Fake it a bit

Science shows that even if you’re not happy, putting on a smile releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. If the mental trick of slapping on a big grin seems a bit much, then try a half-smile instead to lift your mood.

11. Stop being a victim

When you’re feeling low, it’s easy to get caught up in believing that bad things are happening because of you. Don’t allow yourself to believe that you’re a victim. You have the power to choose how you react to problems – and that’s the most powerful thing of all.

12. Get moving

It’s virtually impossible to hang onto a horrible mood when you’re jogging on the spot, or jumping on a trampoline, because your physiology won’t allow it. Try moving your body and see if that will brighten your mood.

13. Don’t isolate

You may be especially sensitive to what other people say and do if you’re feeling down, but remember that shutting yourself away will only make you feel worse. Meeting a friend for a quick coffee, or getting fresh air, can only help your frame of mind.

14. Reach out to others

Helping other people is a wonderful way of taking the focus off yourself and how you are feeling. Helping others feels good as well, so it’s a great mental trick to lift your mood.

15. Be grateful

It’s very difficult to be depressed if you can write a long list of all the things you love in your life. Not so much a mental trick, as a realization of what you’re very lucky to have, despite this tough time you’re going through.

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