One of the first signs of low mood and depression is that you no longer feel like doing all the things you normally find enjoyable. You don't feel like socialising so you stop seeing friends as much, you feel that you can't be bothered to tidy the house or play sport. Over time your mood drops even more. Doing less opens the way for sadness, emptiness and depression. You feel worse, so you avoid even more things. You stop answering the phone, you don't cook for yourself. Your whole being is telling you to curl up under the duvet and hide. The less you do, the worse you feel and the worse you feel the less you do. You get stuck in a vicious cycle of depression. The good news? You can break the cycle. In fact you already have by looking for this article and reading to this point. These small steps of positive action is all it takes to begin to turn your life around.
Follow the steps below to keep breaking that cycle each day and you'll notice how quickly you start to feel better.
Keep a diary. Simply list everything you do in the next couple of days. Include all the small things like getting out of bed, washing up, talking on the phone, etc. Then give each item a score out of 10 for the amount of pleasure and the sense of achievement you got from it. At the end of each day you can then look over the diary and consider both the positive aspects of your day and what was missing.
When you feel low, small essential tasks like looking after yourself, paying bills and speaking to friends can all seem too much. However, we know that the less you do the worse you feel. So take just one thing that you notice is missing from your day. Just one. And do it – now. Add it to your diary and notice how you feel.
Build a routine that gets you out of bed in the morning. If you have children or a pet this makes it easier. But if you don't, then choose something every single day that you must get up for. Involving friends and family in this can help because its harder to stay in bed when you know you have to meet a friend or call a family member. Plus, time with others helps you to feel connected to the world again and lifts mood.
Make a list of all the things you have stopped doing but used to enjoy. Then give them a pleasure rating out of 10. Don't expect yourself to do them all at once, but take a couple to add to your routine. You may not get the same pleasure from them as you once did, but keep using the pleasure scores and watch as they increase.
Exercise is one of the best ways to boost mood, energy and motivation. I'm not talking about a 10k run, just get outside and walk faster than you usually do so that you feel a little out of breath, or any alternative that gets your body moving. Try a little gardening or cycling to the local shops. It needs to feel challenging but achievable. Remember to record how it made you feel.
What if it doesn't work? Don't worry if you find yourself taking two steps forward and one step back. Change is difficult. Just by starting you have broken the cycle. If you find yourself falling back into the old ways, simply start the steps again. If you are struggling, you may need some extra support from a therapist to help you along or look at things in more detail.