'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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