Depression can be characterized by low motivation, lack of interest, fatigue, and negative thoughts. Those feelings, along with negative self-talk, can lead us to engage less, stay home more, and sleep longer.
Sometimes, when we feel depressed, the last thing we have motivation for is an activity. It can be really hard to get out of bed, let alone get out of the house, and do something. However, research supports the idea that participating in pleasurable activities when we feel down can increase happiness, and reduce depression.
Just like our minds or bodies spiral downwards when we are depressed, the good news is that there is a way to spiral upwards as well! The trick is to ask yourself, “What is it that I actually feel like doing right now?” Think of a manageable activity for you in this moment. For example, you may be able to do a hobby, like painting. As you do this, assess the situation- realistically and honestly. Next, set a limit. Ask yourself how long you might be able to paint. If it’s 20 minutes, set a goal for 15 minutes. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too much right away. Find the right balance. Pushing yourself too far might lead to becoming overwhelmed, which might create negative thoughts.
Next time you’re feeling down, and are hesitant to start an activity, try this trick!
For a list of activities and more information on this topic, check out this list of 183 Pleasurable Activities to Choose From by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
Written by: Emily Ruggles