Our mentors and page authors are not necessarily psychologists or therapists. Even when they are, this page is not medical or psychological advice and they are not creating a doctor/therapist-client relationship. You should consult a professional if possible and they can tell you whether this advice applies to your situation. If this is an emergency, you should call your national emergency number, like 911, or a mental health hotline, like 1-800-950-6264.
It is important to journal and notice behaviors you are doing and not doing and their long-term impact on you. This helps you kick bad or maladaptive behaviors and increase good ones. Especially for conditions like depression and anxiety, sometimes you just have to figure out how to do things and every day tasks can seem unsurmountable. Here are some tips for behavioral activation.
ssess Your Situation.
Do this by logging in your journal as many times a day as you can about your feelings. At least do it every evening, noting your three most powerful emotions and how strong they are form 1-100. You’ll start to notice patterns that are difficult to be aware of in the moment. For example, while naps in the afternoon may make you feel good in the moment, you might notice you’re sadder on days when you take naps. This is because oversleeping is a symptom of depression that makes it worse. You may notice alcohol, not calling your friends, or watching too little or too much TV also impact your mood.
hoose New Behavior.
There are many suggestions through this website. Perhaps decide you’ll set alarms and wake up earlier. Perhaps you’ll sleep earlier or switch screens off. Perhaps you need to work on a gratitude journal, ABCD worksheets, or another treatment plan. Take a whole bunch of suggestions from this website and make an actionable list of a few things you will try for the next two weeks.
ry Your New Behavior.
Just do it. If you don’t one day, that’s fine. Try again. Just keep trying. Set alarms if you have to. Give yourself rewards. Ask a therapist or a mentor here to hold you accountable.
ntegrate the Behaviors that Work into Your Life.
Once you discover what works for you, transition them from daily task lists to habits. Create a habit tracker, if that works for you, and mark off days when you meet your goals. Your goals can be playing the piano, reading a book, or getting through an important work task each day. Your goals can also be meditating, listening to music, watching a movie, or getting enough sleep. It’s important to track fun and relaxation as well as work.
Make sure you are still tracking your emotions daily. Make sure you prioritize activities that give you the biggest mood jumps. Move on from the easier issues to harder ones over time.
ever Give Up.
If you’re unable to stick to a schedule, figure out why. Can you make it easier? How can you motivate yourself or hold yourself accountable? Which days do you get more energy and how do you make sure they happen more often? Can you increase simpler activities first?
Mental illnesses aren’t your fault. View them as the demon they are and be your own hero that slays them. It’s hard work, but you can do it and it will pay off.