Sometimes, when you’re feeling a little down, you’ve lost interest in the world or you’re worn out, you really don’t feel like doing anything or seeing anyone.Maybe you’re not feeling all that worthwhile right now – and that can lead to you avoiding the activities you usually take part in and enjoy.
It’s natural. When people aren’t at their best, it’s common for them to withdraw into themselves – to lose interest and motivation. And, when people are anxious, it’s common for them to avoid the activities, events and people that make them feel that way.
But, the more we withdraw and avoid, the less chance we’ll have of experiencing the things that make us feel good. It’s a vicious cycle of depression leading to greater depression, leading to… Well, you get it.
It can be hard to mobilize ourselves into action when we’re feeling like that. Yet, that’s exactly what’s most helpful.
That’s when you can take advantage of a useful skill called Behavioural Activation – a tool that uses positive actions to change your mood.
Usually, in our day to day, motivation comes before action: We do things because we want to do them. But, since a lack of motivation is common when you’re feeling down, action has to come before motivation.
So, take a few minutes to think about some things you normally like to do – things that make you feel good or which give you a sense of accomplishment.
Maybe that’s going for a walk. Or finishing a book. Or talking to a good friend on the phone. Everyone is different, but whatever those things are, make a short list of them.
Now, here’s the important bit: Put them in your schedule – and do them whether you feel like doing them at the time or not.
In fact, add a few things to your schedule for the next few days – and keep a mental note of what actions change your mood for the better. What made the biggest difference to how you were feeling? What turned your day around? We’re all different, so what works for you might not work for someone else. That’s why it’s important to experiment and see what makes the biggest difference.
What we do affects how we feel. When we engage in activities that give us pleasure and a sense of accomplishment or achievement – especially when these activities connect to our values (the things we consider important or meaningful) – we feel good. So, one critical method to get you feeling better is to get you back doing the things you love to do.
The best part is, after you’ve done it a few times you’ll have a set of go-to tools that help lift your mood and get you back in the game again.
Care to learn more about the real steps you can take to improve your wellbeing? Join our webinar next week on Bell Let's Talk Day (January 28 from 12-12:30 p.m. ET) for a talk about values, taking positive action and living a more resilient life! Register here to participate.
Since a lack of motivation is common when you’re feeling down, action has to come before motivation.