Behavioral Activation

It is normal to feel stressed, down, or upset when important things in your life change. Sometimes those feelings of stress and sadness start to make day-to-day life more difficult and less enjoyable. When this happens, doing things that are normally enjoyable may no longer seem worth the time and energy it takes to do them. This can become a cycle where missing out on enjoyable activities makes you feel worse, which leads to missing more activities.

The best way to break this cycle is to slowly start doing more of the things that are important or enjoyable to you. This can be a real challenge, because it requires pushing yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel up to it. The good news is that your mood and energy should begin to improve as you add back in more activities you enjoy. There are three main groups of activities that tend to improve mood. These include Healthy Habits (e.g., physical activity/exercise, getting good sleep, eating well), Mastery Activities (e.g., work, academics, and hobbies), and Social Activities (e.g., talking to people, doing enjoyable activities with friends and family, and helping other people). It will probably feel difficult at first, but it is likely to get easier over time.

Here are some sample activities to increase your energy, sense of accomplishment, social connection, and general well-being.

Healthy Habits Mastery Activities Social Activities
Be physically active School or work projects Call/video-call a friend
Eat healthier Hobbies Host a virtual game night with family
Get more sleep Read a new book Connect with an old friend
Take your medication as prescribed Start each day by showering and getting dressed Help someone who is in need

You can add behavioral activation activities to your resiliency plan or you can learn more strategies for managing negative feelings and increasing positive experiences.