What are pleasant activities?
You can participate in numerous activities that will lift your mood. Pleasurable activities can be anything from reading a book to dancing to your favorite song to learning karate! You can create a list that you can pick from at any time if you need a bit of a mood booster. There are many ideas for pleasant activities that we will discuss here, but you can also think of fun ideas to add to your list.
Having a list to work through can help you with low mood problems, help alleviate the boredom of lockdown, and enhance an already bright mood. The idea is that you get yourself moving and be busy with something, anything! Making a list can be the first thing on your list!
Aim to do one thing per day if possible, even if it is the easiest thing there! By encouraging yourself to do something, you can start making positive changes to your mindset. Being active and crossing something off a list can feel momentous, especially if you have struggled to get out of bed and don’t know what to do with your free time. In addition, it can improve your relationships with family and friends and help kickstart a more healthy lifestyle.
How do you enjoy pleasurable activities?
When you have something to focus on, it can help to remind you to be mindful of the present moment and enjoy what is happening right in front of you. So often, people with low moods can become very focused on difficult situations in their past or worry about things in the future. Being mindful of the present can help alleviate some of these worries by redirecting the focus of your thoughts.
If you can learn to be present in the current moment and enjoy what is happening right now, it can be a potent tool to overcome depression. You will find that there are many ways to practice mindfulness, so having an activity list is an excellent place to start. This can be a helpful distraction from depression or anxiety and provide a sense of achievement.
One of the symptoms of depression, or low mood, is anhedonia or finding no enjoyment. It is difficult to get up and do anything; you often have no motivation. And even when you finally do something, it can feel like a chore. Therefore, having your list can help break this cycle and encourage you to bring some joy back into your life.
What is the purpose of CBT?
CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and DBT, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, both focus on changing negative thought patterns. They work on the premise that three areas affect your mood; thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Each area affects another. For instance, you think no one likes you (thought), you feel sad (emotion), so you isolate yourself (behavior). Therefore, by isolating yourself, you reinforce these thoughts and feelings, as you don’t have the opportunity to be proven wrong.
Your behavior, emotions, and thoughts affect one another, so it is possible to intervene when a problem occurs and redirect these negative thoughts or behaviors. For example, you don’t go out because you think no one likes you in the example mentioned. So, by replacing this behavior and spending time with others, you can begin to see that this was an irrational thought, and positive ones can replace it. In addition, thinking more positively about spending time with people will encourage you to go out more, reinforcing positive thoughts and emotions. Therefore, you’ll find that you have adjusted your thoughts and mood by changing your behavior.
CBT works by combining all three areas to assess and identify areas to work on. So, by replacing negative thoughts and emotions, you can replace negative behaviors and vice versa. Also, by engaging in pleasant activities, you can begin to find enjoyment in your behaviors.
Activities to do in CBT
CBT aims to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Cognitive restructuring is a way to do this by keeping a record of your thoughts and reactions. So, by tracking your negative thoughts, you can learn to adapt your responses to challenging situations.
Mindfulness stems from Buddist meditation and is centered around the idea of remaining in the present moment at all times. Practicing mindfulness is very common in mental health therapies because it can distract people from their negative and obsessive thoughts. In addition, mindfulness has been shown to provide significant physical and emotional benefits.
An excellent way to practice mindfulness is to engage in sensory activities. Start by thinking of the five senses; sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. Then, find a task that involves each of the senses. For example, suck on sour candy, stroke a dog, and smell a candle. While participating in this task, allow the engaged sense to take over and shut out everything else. While doing this, think about what you are tasting/hearing/smelling, etc., and focus solely on that. This encourages you to be entirely in the moment and mindful of your interactions with the world around you.
People suffering from poor mental health can often lack specific social skills if they regularly isolate themselves. Therefore, this training is a great way to provide the tools needed to get back into the world. In therapy, you can use role-playing, instructions, and modeling to practice social interactions before using them in real life. Practicing in a safe space could improve communication and confidence in real-life situations.
People with anxiety and depression can find physiological responses to stressful and difficult situations. Shortness of breath, tight chest, and dizziness can be common symptoms. So, practicing relaxed breathing can help to alleviate some of these physical symptoms, which will, in turn, reduce the emotional stress you experience.
Problem-solving can be a helpful tool alongside CBT because it can prompt you to consider alternative responses under challenging situations. It is straightforward to feel overwhelmed and helpless when issues arise, so learning to take an active part in resolving issues can be very beneficial in combatting that when these situations occur.
What is activity scheduling CBT?
With depression and low mood, it is common to avoid participating in activities. So by participating in activity scheduling CBT, you can begin to reintroduce positive behaviors into your life by planning to do activities you wouldn’t usually want to do.
Initially, you will gradually increase the amount of scheduled activity over a suitable timeframe, reintroducing rewarding behaviors. Over time these behaviors will become reinforced as your mood begins to lift.
Making positive changes to your behavior pattern is the central premise of engaging in CBT. Engaging in positive behaviors will have a direct positive impact on mental health.
A fun list of activities for therapeutic benefit
Here are some ideas of fun things you could do. It is good to create your list using some of these ideas and some of your own. You could categorize your list using some of the following headings. Depending on what mood you’re in, you can jump straight to the appropriate section and pick something from there.
Productive, Outdoor, Personal, With Others, At Home, With Kids
- Tidy your room
- Have a shower
- Cook a big meal
- Listen to music
- Dance to your favorite song
- Play a video game
- Read a book
- Write a poem
- Draw or paint a picture
- Do a jigsaw puzzle
- Play a board game
- Play a game of football
- Go for a coffee
- Go for a run
- Cycle somewhere pretty
- Hike an exciting route
- Sit in the sun
- Learn a new recipe
- Bake something from scratch
- Do some yoga
- Go to the zoo
- Play at the park
- Watch a movie
- Talk to a friend
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
- Make a scrapbook
- Look at the stars
- Light incense
- Please write a letter (you don’t have to send it)
- Post a picture on Instagram
- Play with a puppy
Create your own!
Get started today and write your list. Remember to try and include fun things, this is supposed to be enjoyable! You can add stuff on there that might feel a bit more of a challenge, for when you feel more up to it, try to start small. Also, these things don’t need to be expensive. There are so many free things you can do, so you don’t have to spend big bucks! Complete one task per day to make a huge impact on your life. It doesn’t need to take hours and you don’t even need to leave the house! Find free tips online!
This list is to help provide you with ideas for when you are not feeling up to much, or when your mood is dropping. The goal is to provide you with the tools you need to engage in positive behaviors and break negative patterns. By encouraging you to spend time with friends and family, or get outdoors, this list should be a stepping stone to a better self.