Depression often results from negative thoughts which cause a low mood, and which in turn causes a reduced activity, which in turn causes more negative thoughts. This is known as the depression cycle. If you find that you are caught in this cycle, try and break free by increasing your activity.
You increase the level of activity in your life by setting yourself simple tasks. Do not try and set yourself large projects, as these will be harder to achieve, and then you will only end up feeling worse. Instead, start with small tasks which you feel sure you can achieve.
Once you have started to achieve these small tasks, slowly try and increase the number of tasks achieved in a day. You can also include a mixture of different types of activities (social, educational, creative, recreational), so that the variety makes things more enjoyable.
You should also keep an 'activity diary', to record the number of activities you are involved with each day. When we are experiencing a low mood, we can sometimes minimise or dismiss our achievements, so writing it down serves to remind us of all that we have accomplished. Try also to record how you feel as you carry out each task. This can serve as useful notes to reflect on and see when you are more likely to feel down.
Do not expect to immediately find these tasks enjoyable. If you are suffering from a low mood then this will often reduce the enjoyment of tasks. But as we slowly increase the frequency of our activities, it is hoped that the mood will also lift.
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Chris Warren-Dickins is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Sessions are available in-person at his downtown Ridgewood, or online