Do More, Feel Better - The ticket to mental health throughout the lifespan

Have you ever had a day where you just didn’t feel like doing much of anything?

You probably cancelled all your plans and sat around the house all day. How did you feel by the evening? Chances are you felt worse not better, which makes sense, because in order to feel good, you have to be in an environment that gives you the opportunity to feel good! Research shows that if you spend your days doing activities that give you pleasure or a sense of purpose, you’re more likely to have a positive mood and less likely to experience symptoms of depression. Even if you wake up with a case of the “blahs,” motivating yourself to do something enjoyable — like chatting with a friend or playing a game of cards — or something full of purpose — like volunteering with a charity, exercising or even organizing your kitchen — is a great strategy to stay happy and healthy. In fact, one of the most research-backed and effective ways to manage depression without medication is to help people schedule activities that provide a sense of purpose or pleasure. The treatment, called Behavioral Activation, can be summed up with a catchy phrase: do more, feel better! As I tell my clients, it’s hard to feel happy or purposeful if we’re just lying around the house all day with no opportunity to experience joy or purpose. Our moods respond to the environment we’re in, so it’s important to continue to put ourselves in environments that challenge, inspire and delight us. If you’re not sure what those activities or environments are, a good clue is to look to the past — is there something you used to enjoy that you’re no longer doing anymore? Is there something you used to be interested in that you stopped pursuing? Why not pick up a new or old hobby and see how your mood is affected. Chances are, if you’re doing more of the right kinds of activities (ones that give you joy or a sense of purpose), you’ll feel better!

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