Relaxation Techniques for Depression

Instructor: Quentin Shires

Quentin has taught psychology and other social science classes at the university level and is considered a doctoral colleague at Capella University.

In this lesson, learn what depression is and how it can interrupt your life. Afterwards, discover different relaxation techniques that you can use to help alleviate the different symptoms.

Depression and Me

Depression is a clinical condition that affects the way we think, feel, and act, and can negatively impact the different areas of our lives including the way we work, socialize, and take care of ourselves. Managing depression is a chore on its own, simply because we need to be aware of the different symptoms, while making a commitment to use relaxation techniques to help manage this illness. Approximately 19 million adults experience depression each year, so know that you are not alone and help is definitely out there.

Meditation can be a great relaxation technique to help you deal with your depression.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression can show itself in many different forms; therefore, recognizing different symptoms will bring awareness to how the illness can run its course through your life. Firstly, know that it can be common for people to feel sad or down from time-to-time, as life events can affect us emotionally; however, the American Psychiatric Association classifies someone as being depressed if their symptoms last for more than two weeks.

Different symptoms can include feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and helplessness, a loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities, and thoughts of death and suicide. Although some of these symptoms can appear extreme, it is also other minor symptoms that can alert you to experiencing depression. Feeling anxious, having difficulty concentrating, and decreased energy can also indicate a depressed state, so be sure to seek help by managing your symptoms so you can lead an effective and happy life.

Managing your Depression

People can manage their depression in a variety of ways, particularly by taking antidepressants and talk therapy. However, it is important to make lifestyle changes by committing yourself to complete relaxation techniques to target the symptoms, which can even complement other therapies that you may be participating in. Relaxation techniques can be used every day in order to lift your mood and relax your body, all of which are free and effective!

Relaxation Techniques and Depression

Meditation and Guided Imagery

Meditation and guided imagery are great ways to relax your body when suffering from depression. The goal of meditation is to slow the thoughts that enter your mind, which in turn will relax your body. Meditation works by quieting the mind while increasing concentration levels, clarity, and emotional positivity. Guided imagery is a form of meditation where you can use all of your five senses to relax. A good example of a guided imagery exercise is to imagine you are at the ocean, thinking about what it feels like to have your feet in the sand, the sun on your face, the sound of the waves, and the smell of the salty air. Staying in this guided imagery promotes deep relaxation, and you get to take a free trip to the beach!


Biofeedback is an effective relaxation technique that allows you to be aware of your body and the stress that it is experiencing. When participating in biofeedback, you will utilize deep breathing exercises similar to that of meditation; however, you will then examine each muscle group in your body separately, working to tense your muscles in that particular group, and then immediately relax them. This teaches your body to remain relaxed as well as trains you to be aware of tension in your body, which in turn alleviates depressive symptoms.


Think about how scents can affect your mind. Do you have a favorite smell that brings you great memories and feelings of relaxation? Perhaps you enjoy smelling the flowers in the spring, the scent of the ocean, or the winter rain. Aromatherapy can be a great way to relax and decrease symptoms of depression. Typically used with essential oils, aromatherapy improves a person's mood by stimulating the olfactory system of the body, releasing chemicals to be released from the brain to promote relaxation.

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