Feeling low, and wondering what on earth you can do to get your groove back? Check out Pleasant Activity Scheduling, a simple method that injects the fun back into your day.
One of the signs of being depressed is that you lose your sense of enjoyment. If you love tennis and lunch, depression can make tennis seem a waste of time and lunch seem unappetising.
As a result, you stop playing tennis, stop going for lunch, and before you know it, you’re becoming less active and more isolated.
Whether you choose to take antidepressants,go for therapy or both, one simple activity you can do by yourself is Pleasant Activity Scheduling. As the name suggests, this involves you getting out your diary and adding fun To Dos into your schedule.
|Spending time with Target, my cat pal, is always fun|
· On Monday I have lunch with a friend.
· On Tuesday night I play badminton.
· On Wednesday night I phone an old school friend.
· On Thursday night I eat ice-cream while watching a film.
· On Friday I pack a lunch and read a novel.
· On Saturday afternoon I cook lunch for friends.
· On Sunday I go for a walk in the park.
If it’s part of therapy, I will help you figure out what kind of activities will work best for you and when to time them. To make the most of this when you're depressed, there are a few variables that have to be considered in each case. This short post is not the place to describe them but the journal paper behavioral activation treatments of depression: A meta-analysis offers a nice simple overview.
You don’t have to be depressed or in therapy to take advantage of this technique. Just doing this as a stand-alone is a simple, effective practice for self-care. It can’t harm you, either so it’s perfectly safe.
In fact, I recommend Pleasant Activity Scheduling routinely because so many of us find it hard to achieve a decent work-life balance. With the pressures of work and family, our own happiness often takes a back seat.
So if you find that most of your schedule involves duties (going to the dentist, picking up dry-cleaning, paying bills) then it’s only sensible to balance those stresses with some self-care.
Finally, if you’re a parent, make it a family exercise. It’s especially useful for kids who are burning out due endless cycles of school, tuition and exams.