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'Just Do It'. Saturday January 11, 2014

No, this isn't an advert for sport shoes, but one of the most powerful phrases I learnt during some recent education around depression.

When I'm low, my biggest challenge is motivation. I just do not want to do anything, and without motivation, doing anything becomes near impossible. The well placed advice of others to go for a walk, or go shopping, or even just get out of bed seemed ridiculous. If I had the energy or inclination to do these things, I would. Surely the problem here is not that I am not doing these things, but that I don't want to do anything.

Then I heard about Behavioural Activation. In short, the premise is that managing depression involves, brain function, thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Brain function is generally managed through drug therapy. Negative thoughts and emotions are best managed through therapy or counselling. These can all take time to have an effect. The one thing we alone have control over is our behaviour. We shouldn't wait for motivation to hit because that isn't coming quickly. We just need to do it...or at least try it, with the single goal of improving our mood. Even if it's just one point on the Moodscope scale.

By behaviour, we are talking about doing things. The behaviour might just be to have a shower, or brush your teeth. You might then decide to go straight back to bed, but you might be surprised and decide that actually, you are going to get dressed, or make a cup of tea first. The point is just to do it and see what happens.

If you feel no better, at least you have done it and that will always be more positive than not having done it. Try to break your behaviours to the smallest components to make them seem more manageable.

My mood is relatively low at present. I'm not glued to my bed, but I'm not so far off. Today my 'goal' behaviour was to take a walk round my local park and I'm pleased to say that I've done it. I was out of the house for 30minutes...and yes, I felt better afterwards, as well as knowing I had achieved my goal.

In order to achieve the walk I also had to get out of bed, have a shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, make a coffee and some toast. Did I want to do any of this? Not really. Did I feel motivated to do it? No. Was it easy? No!! I had to drag myself out of bed and make myself do it. Am I glad I have done it? Absolutely! I have a sense of achievement and I do feel a bit brighter for having been out in the fresh air and go my heart pumping.

All that time I've wasted waiting for motivation when the solution was so simple...Just Do It. Keep a list of all the 'behaviours' that you do, to remind yourself of your achievements. When you hit rock bottom, having a shower is a major achievement, so acknowledge it.

What are you going to do today?

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curious212000 Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 7:00am

Thank you a good blog.

Jeremy Thomas Trying to Stay Sane in an Insane World Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 8:49am

This is god stuff and gets to the nub of the problem! Too much time spent prevaricating is often the cause of mental wheelspin. I use this ploy when deciding to go swimming or not in the early morning. Just do it..or as the old Goethe quotation goes...'begin it now'. Thanks and well done.

Julia Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 9:00am

I am putting off my bike ride right now by posting here. Well done Kirsty. Your are so right. Just do it.

Julia Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 9:02am

It reminds me of "Just say no" which was the advice for drug addicts and maybe still is. I liked it at the time. Still do.

Anonymous Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 9:13am

Thank-you for sharing this Kirsty - brilliant. Frankie

Julia Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 9:40am

So glad you took it easy on your day off Frankie.xx

Jojo Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 9:46am

Thankyou Kirsty you have given me the kick I needed brill..... Saturday is the worst day for me. But today is the first Saturday I feel good

Anonymous Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 10:19am

Reminds me of Yoda's statement 'either do or don't do there is no try'

Anonymous Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 10:27am

good advise. i would often lie in bed brooding at weekends. now i try snap out of it when they thoughts get too deep and it makes me get out of bed . getting a shower is a great idea, it wakes you up and can change your mood. it sets you up for the day.

Anonymous Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 10:38am

This is how I live my life (-_-)

Anonymous Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 1:10pm

It's nice to give yourself permission to stay in bed and veg out, as long as you can resist the temptation to allow yourself to feel guilty or start the 'what if' scenario. Positive blogs can have a very positive effect. Negatives equally negative effects if you don't see them coming. My graph took a big nosedive after reading yesterdays so obvioulsy I need a little distance at times. Today the sun shines and I am just enjoying 'being in the minute'. Walk in the park? Maybe!

Anonymous Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 2:34pm

The thing that I don't get is that the only tool I have to try to make a living (such as it is) is by writing. I don't see where you'd get the motivation/energy to even write this blog post if you really feel that low.

Julia Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 3:06pm

Maybe Kirsty wrote this after she had forced herself out for the walk. She does say that she felt much better for it, much brighter. It must be very difficult to earn a living by writing if much of the time you don't feel creative.I sympathise as I have been in that position; writing was a part of my job so my income did not depend entirely on writing and therefore I could usually save the writing for when I felt creative. The problem was I would go for long periods feeling dull and boring so had to keep putting off the writing until I felt good and cram it all into one day or as long as I had that creative spirit (usually only for 24 hours)

Tere Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 3:20pm

I really WAS going to go shopping today. Really. The weather sucks (we even have a weather advisory!) and . . . well, I'm not going. I thought about staying in bed, because this weather makes it all worse -- pain and depression -- but I have to get out of bed every day to see my visiting nurse. I feel badly if I haven't brushed my teeth and hair so I do that. Some days I do go right back to bed, some days I stay up, like today. I'm doing filing. How impressive is THAT? Well, it should be, since I haven't done it in like two years and my OCD is not only getting into file folders, but getting the stuff in date order. However, as I find myself starting to do that, I take a deep breath and realize I don't have to do it all at once.

Quacko Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 3:56pm

I am working on this also. The weather where I am has been horrendously cold. I am also in a horrible job- so the last few weekends have been very lethargic and not much done. The last few days I have been more motivated- just had my 60th birthday and in rebellion to my awful job took yesterday off pretending to be sick. Best thing to do was to break routine. What helps me is to make a short list of things that MUST be done. Even as this person says- to get to a small task, one must do tasks require getting basics done. On from basics to motion forward. The short list of basics helps me feel like something is getting done and more.

Mary Sat, Jan 11th 2014 @ 6:28pm

Love this blog. thank you Kirsty.

Anonymous Sun, Jan 12th 2014 @ 9:45am

Hey, really impressive Tere! Well done - No excuse now for me not to tackle my filing (3 years worth ...) Wish me luck! Frankie

Ida Sun, Jan 12th 2014 @ 9:46am

I went for a jog this morning - both my body and mind said no to it but i have a goal of burning at least 2000kcal a week and i am behind by 980kcal. The goal of meeting my target led to determination to go out there and just do it. I did not push myself too much but went on it at leisurely basis. After going for 5 kilometres, I felt that I could do more and I went on for a further 6 kilometres. I exceeded my goal and burnt 1200 kcal today. It made me feel good.

Also, when I find myself getting really depressed, I make myself write in my journal. I don't feel like it sometimes because when I do, I would start crying. However, at the end of writing, I sometimes find myself finding a solution to my problem or it just made me feel better that I have got it off my chest by writing those emotions down.

However, there are good and bad days and since being diagnosed in Sep 2012, the last 9 months has got better. I don't lay in bed all the time or going back to bed after getting up and that it is the most important part - you need to get moving and start doing to get our mind off things. Exercise is good even if it is just for 30 mins. As Kristy said, just do it! It will do you good!

Anonymous Sun, Jan 12th 2014 @ 10:09am

Thanks Julia - did you get your bike ride? Frankie

Anonymous Tue, Jan 14th 2014 @ 11:37am

Love this!

David Oliver Tue, Jan 14th 2014 @ 9:12pm

"Behavioral Activation" seems to explain why my mood tanks whenever I catch a bad cold that settles in my lungs.

Glad I'm on the uphill side, finally.

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