Feelings of discouragement are common after the holidays. The excitement has faded, the decorations are packed away, and visiting relatives have gone home.

If you find yourself feeling down or restless but you do not have other symptoms of depression, such as difficulty sleeping or sudden change in weight, you may be experiencing what is known as mild depression. In their book New Light on Depression (Zondervan), David B. Biebel, D.Min., and Harold G. Koenig, M.D., offer six self-help strategies to counteract mild depression:

1. Surround yourself with constructive friends.
2. Increase your activity—this will make you feel better and improve your mental outlook.
3. Relax—a new twist on the old adage: "All work and no play makes Jack or Jill depressed."
4. Helping others gives your life purpose and meaning.
5. Journal—this activity provides insight into where you've been, where you are, and where you're going.
6. Praying connects you with God, dispels loneliness and puts your problems in proper perspective.

Biebel and Koenig point out that these tips do not replace professional help for anyone who is more than mildly depressed. If you feel you need help, don't hesitate to seek a professional counselor or therapist.

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