Depression and loneliness are common feelings, but sometimes those feelings can become overwhelming. There are steps you can take on your own to control those feelings, such as correcting dysfunctional thinking, structuring your day, and paying attention to your health. Keep in mind that depression is a very complex illness and you may still need to get outside help to significantly improve.
- Plan out each hour of your day. Help combat depression and loneliness by keeping structure in your day with a daily schedule. The use of a schedule helps depression by counteracting the loss of motivation, hopelessness, and decreasing time for rumination, which are all associated with depression. 
- Rumination is the activity of replaying a scenario or problem in your head over and over, like a broken record. While some people consider rumination as a form of problem-solving (“I’m thinking through this problem from every angle until I come up with a solution”), if the problem is upsetting, you will end up continuing to be upset until you stop thinking about it.
- Find a day planner that has space for hourly scheduling. Make sure you plan each hour of your day. Incorporate time for journaling, rest, exercise, relaxation, and self-care. To combat loneliness, schedule time to connect with a social group or a pet.
- Retrain yourself to be self-reliant. Self-reliance training is sometimes needed for persons with depression when they have become reliant on friends or family members to take care of daily needs. The process of self-reliance starts with taking back responsibility for self-care. 
- It is important to begin in one area, scheduling this daily. For instance, you can start with being responsible for showering. You can also record your level of mastery in being responsible for showering. For instance, starting out, you may indicate that you were only able to get out of bed for the day and not shower. This may seem like no mastery at all, but it is more mastery that you previously had. Use your planner and feelings of competence to build yourself back up in self-care. Once you have taken on showering, you can tackle making the bed, then cleaning, etc.
- Write down your automatic thoughts. Automatic thoughts are the things that pop into your head spontaneously. They tend to pertain to three types of ideas: ideas about yourself, about the world, and about the future. After you’ve identified your emotions about an event where your mood changed, you can start to analyze the automatic thoughts that correspond to the event. Then you can evaluate these thoughts to determine how they are dysfunctional, challenge them by looking for evidence for and against the thought.
In your journal, create a chart in which you can record certain situations, their corresponding emotions, and the thoughts you had just prior to your emotions.
Event: I received poor feedback on my presentation at work.
Feelings: I felt embarrassed.
Automatic thought: I am so stupid.
Identify the dysfunctional thought: You are labeling yourself.
Here is another example:
Event: I forgot to sign the birthday card for my boss.
Feeling: I felt regretful and embarrassed
Automatic thoughts: I know my boss hates me now.
Identify the dysfunctional thought: You are trying to mind-read.
- Plan a set of “go-to” distractions for overwhelming times. It is important to know how and when to use distraction as a helpful method to combat rumination and intense emotions. Have a set of ‘go-to’ distractions that you can use if you are ruminating, feeling overwhelmed, or feeling lonely. 
- Some examples include: exercise, having coffee with a friend, painting, reading, meditation, prayer, or playing with a pet. Write down these distraction methods in your journal or planner. Consult them frequently so that you have a reminder about your distraction plan.