There are times we just feel down. Perhaps there are very obvious reasons why – maybe we’re missing someone, feeling lonely, struggling with redundancy or betrayal. There is no quick easy fix for any of these things but there are activities that can help sometimes. They may not all work for you, but then again, you could be surprised! And they are all free.

1. Go for a walk. You don’t have to go far but if you can find a green space somewhere near it will help. Look around you, try to find something beautiful and really focus on it. A patch of grass, some fallen leaves, the bare branches of an oak tree silhouetted against the grey winter sky. The sun setting. Winter flowering cyclamen or yellow forsythia breaking the dullness of the season.

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Walking gives your body the benefits of exercise, a gentle lift in the production of endorphins which can make you feel happier and a sense of control over your life all of which are known to help ease depression.

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2. Listen to music and perhaps even sing along! Whether it’s hymns, old music hall songs, 80’s pop songs or Frank Turner, fill your room with music and sing.  Singing is known to be able to improve mental health and even reduce feelings of pain especially if done in a group.

So sing and ‘Make ’em laugh!’

3. One thing we can easily neglect when feeling down is self-care. It isn’t always easy to get up and get washed, put clean clothes on and brush your hair. But doing those things can make a huge difference. Perhaps you could treat yourself by using a perfume you normally save for best, or by putting on some jewellery or a colourful scarf. Choose an item in a warm colour or wear a favourite jumper. Maybe you have some body lotion you never normally bother to use – try it out today. Just pamper yourself a little, remind yourself you are worth it.

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4. Just making your bed each morning can help you feel a bit better. Being in a messy environment almost reinforces the feeling that you don’t matter. If you can gather up the energy for a five minute blitz it can really cheer you up. Pick things up and put them out of sight or even better, in the right place! Wash up and if you have an extra ounce of oomph try and get the sink to shine a bit. For some reason that makes the whole room feel clean.

5. Eat well. I know this is about free things but it may be that you could just choose something healthy over something unhealthy. If you find that you are buying a lot of snack foods think of swopping some of them for a piece of fruit. Try to choose food that is not high in sugar or overly processed. If you do want something sweet for a treat maybe spend a bit of time cooking or baking and enjoy the creativity and the frugality. Here’s a simple biscuit recipe that might inspire you!

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If you are feeling seriously down then it would be wise to see your GP and let them know. If you need to talk to someone immediately then you can contact The Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90