12 SMART Goals Examples for Managing Depression

Depression is a serious mood disorder that triggers emotions of despair and unhappiness. Coping with it can be tough. Establishing SMART goals can empower you to regain control of your life and cultivate a more positive outlook.

Through the application of the SMART approach, individuals can dissect tasks into smaller achievable actions that pave the way for improved well-being. This piece will offer illustrations, on utilizing SMART goals to cope with depression.

What is a SMART Goal?

It’s advisable to apply the SMART framework when setting goals for practicality. SMART represents specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.

Need clarification? Here’s a breakdown of SMART goals;


For individuals dealing with depression having a strategy in place can pave the way for progress. Establishing a goal for managing depression is a crucial step toward taking charge of your mental well-being.

Your goal doesn’t have to be overly ambitious; focusing on steps like “attending regular therapy sessions” or “engaging in social activities” can set you on the path to success.


In coping with depression setting goals is vital. However, merely having a goal isn’t sufficient—it must be quantifiable. Without this aspect, you won’t have the feedback and data needed to assess your progress 

For example, if your aim is to improve well-being measure it by tracking how frequently you experience depressive episodes or negative thoughts throughout the day. By using metrics you’ll observe clear signs of enhancement that boost your confidence, in staying committed.


Setting goals empowers you to steer your life in a positive direction. Assess your lifestyle choices pinpoint areas for improvement and establish attainable objectives to propel yourself forward.

These goals could range from increasing activity to adopting healthier eating habits or enhancing your sleep routine. It’s crucial that these targets are within reach in a timeframe to prevent feeling overwhelmed.


Consider your core values when outlining long-term objectives. Ensure that your goals are aligned with what matters most to you. This approach will help you define goals that inspire progress.


Although the path to success may be challenging, setting timelines can keep you on track. Having deadlines for your goals acts as a guiding force ensuring accountability and boosting motivation. Monitoring progress within set time frames enhances the likelihood of combating feelings of despondency.

Why SMART Goals Are Important for Depression

Having SMART goals is crucial for people dealing with depression as they offer a sense of direction, purpose and achievement that can be lacking during difficult times.

Establishing specific goals helps individuals define what they want to achieve and create actionable steps to make progress.

Whether sticking to a consistent sleep routine or seeking professional support, setting specific objectives allows individuals to break down big tasks into smaller steps, empowering them with a sense of control.

Measurability allows you to monitor your advancement and celebrate small wins. Using measurable indicators like mood assessments or self-care routines, you can evaluate your well-being and acknowledge positive changes in your life.

Types of SMART Goals for Depression

Developing specific and achievable goals to manage depression plays a crucial role in enhancing mental well-being. Let’s delve into various types of such goals;

Social Engagement Goals

Set objectives to engage in social activities and maintain connections with supportive friends and family. Keeping track of social interactions can help assess improvements in reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation over time.

Sleep Hygiene Goals

Establish goals to improve sleep habits for better quality rest and mood regulation. Monitoring bedtime routines, sleep duration and quality can help establish a consistent sleep schedule and minimize disruptions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Goals

Define goals for practicing cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to challenge negative thoughts and enhance coping skills. Tracking the application of CBT strategies in daily life can aid in identifying changes in thinking patterns.

Stress Management Goals

Set targets for incorporating stress-reducing techniques like mindfulness meditation or breathing exercises. Tracking stress levels helps evaluate improvements in managing stress effectively.

Hobbies and Interests Goals

Create objectives to engage in enjoyable activities that bring fulfillment and satisfaction, promoting overall well-being. Evaluate outcomes by monitoring engagement in leisure activities and gauging enhancements in mood and drive.

Support Network Goals

These goals could involve a robust support system comprising friends, family or support circles to offer motivation and practical aid during challenging moments. Assess progress by monitoring social support connections and evaluating enhancements in perceived social backing and coping resources.

Journaling and Reflection Goals

Establish SMART goals for journaling or reflective practices to manage emotions, recognize triggers and gain insights into thought and behavior patterns. Check the frequency of journaling and assess changes in self-awareness and emotional processing abilities.

12 SMART Goals for Managing Depression

Here are 12 SMART goals for managing depression more effectively:

1. Establish Healthy Habits

SMART Goal: “I will establish healthy habits like regular exercise and healthy eating that I can maintain at least three times a week by the end of two months. These habits will help me to manage my depression better and be healthier in the long term.”

  • Specific: You will establish and maintain healthy habits three times a week.
  • Measurable: Track how often the habits were completed each week.
  • Attainable: Establishing healthy habits in two months is a reasonable timeline.
  • Relevant: These habits will introduce a healthier lifestyle and routine.
  • Time-based: The statement should be met after two months.

2. Improve Diet and Nutrition

“I’ll strive to make a weekly meal plan and grocery list for the next three months. I will include healthy foods that support my mental health, such as leafy greens and vitamin-rich fruits. I’ll also ensure that my meals are balanced, with the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and other essential nutrients.”

  • S: The goal states the objective and timeline and what dietary measures will be taken.
  • M: Pay attention to your grocery list and meal plan for the three months.
  • A: This goal is achievable as it only involves creating a weekly meal plan and grocery list.
  • R: Diet and nutrition are crucial for your overall mental health.
  • T: You have three months to accomplish this goal.

3. Add Exercise to Your Routine

“I want to incorporate exercise into my daily routine within two months. This will include at least 30 minutes of physical activity, such as walking, jogging, or weight training, at least three days a week. My goal is to have an exercise routine that will help improve my physical and mental health.”

  • S: You’ll set a duration of two months and detail the type and amount of physical activity.
  • M: Make sure you incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your routine.
  • A: This goal is feasible because it only requires a 30-minute commitment three days a week.
  • R: This is relevant because exercise has plenty of physical and mental health benefits.
  • T: The goal is time-bound since it has an end date of two months.

4. Develop Self-Care Rituals

“I aim to establish and stick to consistent self-care routines within the next month to help prevent bouts of depression. That involves setting a regular sleep schedule, taking breaks throughout the day and dedicating time to hobbies.”

  • S: This objective involves creating and upholding consistent self-care routines.
  • M: Have you set up a steady sleeping pattern, taken breaks regularly and allocated time for your hobbies?
  • A: It’s definitely achievable to integrate self-care practices into your daily routine.
  • R: Individuals dealing with depression should prioritize engaging in self-care activities regularly.
  • T: Give yourself a month to establish personalized self-care rituals.

5. Reduce Your Stress

“I will try various stress-reducing methods such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation to improve my overall mental health after three months. I want to reduce the amount of stress and anxiety I feel in my day-to-day life.”

  • S: This SMART goal outlines that the person wants to reduce stress levels using certain strategies.
  • M: Did you check the amount of time you set aside to practice the stress-reducing strategies?
  • A: The person has three months to get comfortable with the techniques and see the impact.
  • R: This goal relates to improving your health and well-being.
  • T: There is a three-month time frame to reach this goal.
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6. Seek Professional Help

“I’ll seek professional help to get my depression under control by the end of two months. I want to ensure that I take the necessary steps to improve my mental health and well-being.”

  • S: Seeking professional help is a precise goal, and the person will take all necessary steps to improve their mental health.
  • M: You will determine personal growth and any changes in your mental health over the two months.
  • A: This goal is achievable if the person takes the initiative to seek help from medical professionals.
  • R: Boosting mental health is appropriate for those suffering from depression.
  • T: Goal achievement is expected by the end of two months.

7. Maintain Positive Relationships

“I want to create and nurture positive relationships with family members and friends to help me handle my depression more effectively over 6 months. I’ll schedule regular check-ins with people I trust, set up social activities that involve people I care about, and be more open to talking about my mental health.”

  • S: You have a precise plan to connect with family and friends.
  • M: Keep track of how often you talk to the people in your life.
  • A: This is a reasonable goal if you put in the proper effort.
  • R: Connecting with loved ones is an excellent support system.
  • T: You should achieve this target after 6 months.

8. Identify Unhealthy Thinking Patterns

“I will work to identify and challenge my unhelpful thinking patterns contributing to depression by the end of two months. I want to be aware of my unique triggers and recognize when I’m in an unhealthy mindset so that I can use positive strategies to address them.”

  • S: The statement is to identify and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns contributing to depression.
  • M: You’ll pay attention to your triggers and unhealthy mindset over time.
  • A: This SMART goal is achievable with the right resources and support system.
  • R: This is appropriate for your desire to address unhealthy thinking patterns.
  • T: You will meet this particular goal after two months.

9. Practice Mindfulness Techniques

“Over the course of 5 months, I will practice mindfulness techniques for 10 minutes every day to help me stay focused and live in the present. This will allow me to better manage my depression and anxiety symptoms.”

  • S: The goal is explicit because it describes the duration and frequency of mindfulness practice.
  • M: You can measure how often you practice mindfulness and report any changes in symptoms.
  • A: Practicing mindfulness is doable and achievable over 5 months.
  • R: This goal is pertinent to managing depression and anxiety issues.
  • T: Goal attainment is anticipated within 5 months.

10. Be Easy on Yourself

“I will practice self-compassion by forgiving myself for mistakes and accepting that I can’t always get it right. For one month, I want to prioritize self-care and be gentle with myself when things don’t go as planned.”

  • S: This statement tells you exactly what your plan should entail: forgiving yourself for mistakes and being gentle when things don’t work out.
  • M: You can measure your effort by noting the days you actively practice self-compassion and self-care.
  • A: Being gentle with yourself and forgiving your mistakes is something that you can do.
  • R: By being gentle with yourself, you’re promoting a healthier and more positive attitude.
  • T: One month is required to accomplish this goal.

11. Get Adequate Sleep

“I will work to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night for two months. I understand this is essential in managing my depression and improving my health. I’ll turn off all screens (TV, phone, tablet) an hour before bed to create a better sleeping environment.”

  • S: The goal is stated clearly, including how it will be accomplished.
  • M: You will actively count the number of hours of sleep each night.
  • A: This is possible by setting an earlier bedtime and disconnecting from screens before bed.
  • R: You should realize that adequate sleep can ease your depression.
  • T: There is a two-month deadline for goal completion.

12. Set Boundaries With Others

“I’ll commit to setting boundaries with my colleagues, family, and friends by the end of three months. I want to be more assertive when saying no if something doesn’t feel right or I don’t have the energy to participate.”

  • S: This defines what you want to do (set boundaries) and how long it’ll take to accomplish (three months).
  • M: You could keep track of how many times you’ve set a boundary with others.
  • A: Setting boundaries can be done with practice and discipline.
  • R: This will prevent negativity from creeping into your daily life.
  • T: The goal statement has a timeline of three months.

FAQs for Depression

How can SMART goals be personalized to address individual challenges with depression?

To tailor SMART goals for managing depression, it’s important to pinpoint specific actions or coping mechanisms such as increasing physical activity, incorporating mindfulness practices or scheduling regular social interactions.

For instance, a personalized SMART goal could be: “Dedicate 20 minutes each morning to mindful breathing exercises to alleviate anxiety and boost mood.”

How do I overcome obstacles when pursuing SMART goals for depression?

Overcoming obstacles in pursuing SMART goals for managing depression involves breaking down goals into smaller tasks, seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals, and practicing self-compassion and patience. For instance, setting achievable goals like going for a short walk or reaching out to a friend can help build momentum.

Can SMART goals be modified for different types or stages of depression?

Yes, SMART goals can be adapted to suit various forms and stages of depression. In cases of severe depression, the focus may be on self-care tasks. For mild to moderate depression, the goals might center around enhancing social connections, engaging in hobbies or attending therapy sessions.

How can I maintain motivation and progress despite setbacks or fluctuations in mood?

Sustaining motivation and progress in managing depression involves employing strategies that address both internal and external influences.

These strategies may encompass creating a supportive atmosphere, engaging in self-care routines, using positive reinforcement techniques and celebrating small achievements. Regular introspection and fine-tuning of objectives can also aid in maintaining momentum towards your goals.

What additional support networks are available to assist me with depression in reaching my SMART goals?

Use crisis hotlines or helplines staffed by trained volunteers or mental health professionals. These services offer immediate support, crisis intervention, and referrals to local resources. Examples include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line.

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Rei Shen

Rei is the founder of Success in Depth. Based in Washington, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He brings years of experience in goal setting to empower readers to reach their aspirations.