Feeling down? Studies show that an increase in activity can increase happiness, and reduce depressive symptoms. Using a an Activity Log is one type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) technique that can help improve both mood and behavior.
The Link Between Depression and Inactivity
With depression it’s common to experience a lack of motivation, fatigue, and feelings of discouragement. The feelings and self-talk (i.e., internal thoughts) associated with depression may tell you to stay home, sleep more, and not participate in many activities. This contributes to a downward spiral, where more inactivity then leads to greater depression and less happiness.
By choosing to increase your activity level, regardless of how you feel, you can increase exposure to potentially positive experiences. If low activity due to depression is a problem for you, then simply being more active will likely improve your mood and reduce depression. However, experiences that provide a sense of accomplishment and/or pleasure in particular can have an even greater impact on your emotional state.
A CBT Activity Log helps provide insight into the connection between activity level and mood state. This is done by tracking activities (or lack thereof) throughout the day, and monitoring how your mood changes relative to those experiences.
As mentioned previously, engaging in more activities that bring a sense of achievement or pleasure can increase positive emotions and decrease negative ones.
Examples of activities that are typically pleasurable include: having a nice meal, watching a movie, taking a walk in nature, spending time with a friend, interacting with your child or pet, getting a massage, or playing a game. The options abound. Novel activities, trying something new, can be particularly stimulating to the brain, as long as the effort required isn’t too intense, as this may provide a deterrent to somebody in a depressive pattern.
Examples of activities that can provide a sense of accomplishment include: cleaning the house, cooking a meal, finishing a project at work, exercising, helping a friend, fixing something at home.
It’s common for some activities to provide both a sense of pleasure and accomplishment, so these types of experiences are highly valued when it comes to improving your emotional state.
Click Here for the CBT Activity Log (PDF file)
 Note: as with all recommendations on this site, the information provided is not meant to replace the advice of a professional that knows you personally. While self-help actions will be sufficient for some, for others, more help is needed. If that is the case, please contact your local psychotherapist or physician for additional guidance with your depression.
 Note: symptoms like fatigue and low motivation may be a sign of another underlying medical problem besides depression. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may want to meet with your medical doctor to discuss further.