Dear Rain,

Maybe it's the holidays, or maybe it's the election, or maybe it's the onslaught of bad news, or maybe it's just me, but I'm depressed. Are there any places in San Francisco you can recommend as an instant mood lifter?

Promise Not to Jump

Dear PNTJ,

This has been a horrible year. I don't think I need to list off the reasons why, and who really needs to hear them all again anyway, right? I actually feel sorry for those who chose to get married, or have kids, or celebrate some other positive life changing event this year, because it will always be tainted by its association with 2016: The Year of Suck.

PNTJ, I hear you, and I know exactly how you're feeling. While I'm not in the permanent state of depression I was in that second week in November, when America's course was thrown back decades, it still hits me hard every now and then. For instance, last Thursday, once I finished work, I literally didn't have the will to do anything but go to sleep. At 6 p.m! And I didn't even care enough to get into my actual bed, I just threw myself onto my couch and called it a night.

But that's no way to live! While it will do us no good to stick our heads in the sand, it's still perfectly reasonable to seek out some kind of depression relief when you can. So here are some San Francisco-centric things that always manage to get me out of a funk.

Look at Cute Animals

Unless you're some kind of monster who hates animals, I can guarantee that looking at those kittens and puppies in the Macy's windows will make you smile. Especially when they're doing something like using their tiny litter boxes, or peeing on their tiny furniture. Try not to laugh when the crowd is "Awwwwing!" at a kitten and that kitten proceeds to take a giant crap!

Can't stand the crowds? Here's a tip: You can also go inside the store and play with animals that are on a window break. They're in a room next to the elevators on the first floor, and if you're planning on adopting one (DO IT!) you'll be able to take one out of its cage and bond with it as well.

Got some spare time these holidays? They're always looking for volunteers!


Walk the Steps of Telegraph Hill

As horrible as exercise is, it can also be a guaranteed mood lifter. But skip the gym! Instead, get your cardio in while taking in some of the city's best views by walking up the Filbert Steps. Sure, it looks daunting, but don't worry, you can take plenty of breaks (and it's recommended you do) to see the views and admire the cozy, hidden neighborhood you've entered. Your reward for making it to the top is Coit Tower, and an elevator ride up to a viewing area that will give you even better views.

If you'd rather not get your heart racing quite as much, you can take the 39 Coit up the hill and then walk down those steps instead. Either way, you'll see beautiful vistas, and maybe even some wild parrots.

I usually make the Filbert Steps the end of an epic walk that leads me from Nob Hill, through Chinatown (a great place for silly stocking stuffer gifts!), and North Beach, ending up at the Embarcadero, where I reward myself with a cocktail at Pier 23.

Photo: torbakhopper

Go To the Movies

For the past month I've found that even sitting through a mediocre movie can help me get out of my own head for a little while. But don't do it at home, where the lure of your phone will prevent complete immersion. Instead, go out to a movie, preferably at one of the city's last remaining movie palaces.

The Castro, as always, has a great line-up, including tonight's presentation of Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 10,two legendary San Francisco-set crime thrillers Bullitt and Dirty Harry this Friday, and the annual Noir City Xmas next Wednesday, the 14th.

If you haven't been to The Alamo Drafthouse at the New Mission yet, you really should. It's a beautiful restoration, with a great bar, and some really fun theme nights, including Music Mondays, Terror Tuesdays, and Weird Wednesdays, plus new releases all week long.

I never thought I'd live to see any of the city's shuttered theaters brought back to life, so the Alamo has really been a dream come true in many ways.


Enjoy Some Comfort Food in a Beautiful Setting

I'm sure I'm not the only person to turn to a lot of stress eating this year. But if you're going to do it, why not do it in a place with ocean views? No, I'm not talking about the Cliff House, although I do love their popovers and full bar. It's just that when I'm feeling low, paying 30 bucks for a sandwich isn't going to help my mood. For those times, I venture up the hill from the Cliff House, to Louis' Restaurant.

My go-to order, as tends to be the case whenever I go to a diner, is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and I always hope to get that coveted corner booth, where, if it feels like you're eating lunch on the edge of the cliff, it's because you are. While you sit back and savor that greasy sandwich and its accompanying view of the Pacific Ocean and the ruins of the Sutro Baths, I can bet you something. Your mood has been lifted.

Rain Jokinen was born and raised in San Francisco and, miraculously, still calls the city home. Her future plans include becoming a millionaire, buying a condo complex, and then tearing it down to replace it with a dive bar. You can ask this native San Franciscan your questions here.

In these Troubled San Francisco Times, there is a lot of talk about who was here when, and what that does (or doesn't) mean. In an effort to both assist newcomers and take long-time residents down memory lane, we present to you Ask a San Francisco Native, a column penned by SF native and longtime SFist contributor Rain Jokinen, which is inspired by a similar one on our sister site Gothamist, and is intended to put to rest all those questions only a native of this city can answer. Send yours here!