One of the ways of overcoming depression, which is often overlooked, is the positive effect of activity. It is hard to stay feeling really low if you are doing something. One of the reasons for this is that depression is made worse by thinking about feeling low, and being busy stops this process of thinking about being depressed, called rumination. The other way in which doing something helps, is when what is done gives a sense of achievement or pleasure. Most people will naturally choose to do some things that give the sense of achievement or pleasure, but if you focus on mainly these activities, then depression will lift faster.

If you are feeling down, keep a diary for a few days or a week of what you have done. Record on a scale of 1 – 10 (where 1 is really low and 10 is happy) how you feel, as you do various activities. Then mark which activities give you a sense of achievement or pleasure, by putting an A or a P by them. Try to increase the time spent on these A & P activities.

Achievement and pleasure activities give us positive feedback about life, positive reinforcement that life is worth living, pleasurable, and good. This is the opposite of the hopelessness and pointlessness that cause depression.

If you want to use this approach to feeling better its important to do the activities even if you don’t feel like it sometimes. Act “as if”. The feeling better often comes later, so begin even when you feel low, and keep going. You will most likely suddenly realise that you feel better without realising how and when it came about. It’s a natural and low tech, side effect free way to lift mood.

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