5 Ways to Help Your Loved Ones Feel Happier

One of the biggest things we can do to help our family and friends who are experiencing depression is to be there for them. Simply showing up and putting in the effort to show someone that you're thinking about them, and that you love them, is a powerful way to help prevent suicide.

If you have a family member or a friend who might be struggling with feelings of depression, you can help them by using any of these 5 ideas that are scientifically proven to help boost someone's mood.

1. Send a Gratitude Journal

Picture of a gratitude journal

Over the past decade, many studies "have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed….”1 Gratitude journals can be a great way to help your loved ones because they're an easy thing someone can use, and they reap great mental health benefits.

2. Gift a Water Bottle

Ok, we know this one may sound a little silly, but did you know that dehydration can affect your mood? Because dehydration throws off the delicate balance of chemicals in our brains, even a mild case of it can cause sluggishness, anxiety, depression, and an unclear mind.2

One easy way your loved ones can feel a bit better is by drinking a glass or two of water.

3. Go on a Walk

Three girls walking together.

This idea can actually have multiple benefits for a few reasons. The first is exercise. If you have a loved one who's experiencing feelings of depression and anxiety, then going on a walk can help improve their mood because it improves brain function and self-esteem.3

Going for a walk can also help your loved ones because spending time outside has mental health benefits as well. A simple breath of fresh air at a park, in the woods, or even in someone's backyard can lower stress hormones, boost vitamin D, and improve overall brain function.4

4. Reach Out

Probably one of the most simple, yet effective ways you can help your family and friends is by staying in touch with them. When your loved ones have a social support network, they receive benefits like being able to cope better with difficult situations, gain relief from emotional distress, have better self-esteem, and so many other benefits that promote overall mental well-being.5

One really easy way to do this is to send a simple text or give them a little note.

5. Ask and Listen

Two girls sitting at a table, talking.

In many suicide prevention articles, this suggestion comes up time and time again. Research has shown that asking someone who’s feeling depressed, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” (in a caring way, we might add) tends to provide relief for that person, rather than making things worse.6 And this doesn’t just end at the big question either. Even asking someone how they’re feeling can provide relief as well.

If you take the time to understand what’s going on in someone’s head, and really listen without judgment, then you may be able to help save a life or lead someone to a path of recovery.

1 https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain
2 https://blog.mass.gov/publichealth/mental-wellness/improve-your-mood-stay-hydrated/
3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/
4 https://healthmatters.wphospital.org/blog/january/2021/my-doctor-told-me-to-get-outside/
5 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/social-support/art-20044445
6 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/promote-national-suicide-prevention-month/

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