When we're depressed, we often lose motivation to engage in the things we used to enjoy. One behavioral technique to improve your mood is called the Pleasure Predicting Sheet.
With the pleasure predicting sheet, you have to know that MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION, not the other way around. So this technique makes you force yourself to engage in various activities, and you'll get to see that motivation follows action. When you sit around waiting for the lightning bolt of motivation to hit you, it'll likely never come. The more we isolate, the less motivated we become.
But don't take my word for it. Engaging in the pleasure predicting sheet will allow you to see for yourself that you have power over your motivation and mood.
For example, you may not feel like going for a walk, but when you force yourself to do so, you start to get into it after you put on your walking shoes. You may feel even more motivated as you take the first few steps and begin to enjoy the sunlight. Halfway through, you may begin to really enjoy it.
Dr. Burns has generously given me permission to post the worksheet. Access it
1. Write down at least 7 activities you'll engage in each week for personal growth, pleasure, and/or satisfaction.
2. Write down your perceived satisfaction BEFORE engaging in the activity from 0-100, with 100 being most satisfied.
3. Write down with whom you're engaging in the activities with. If alone then put "self". I want you to schedule a good mix of alone and with others (even if it's just going outside for 10 mins).
4. Level of Mastery measures how perfectly you think you did the activity. This column is a good idea if perfectionism has halted action forward for you. It can help you challenge the thought that you have to completely excel at something for it to be worth engaging in. It can help you get unstuck to see that lower mastery may still create a lot of satisfaction.
5. Write down actual satisfaction AFTER engaging in the activity from 0-100.
6. Comment on what you got from the experiment with each activity. What are new the new lessons learned?
For more ways to improve your mood, read Dr. David Burn's Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. For $5.69, it's dirt cheap for practical ways to alleviate depression and enjoy life again.