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  1. #1

    Behavioral Activation: How To Be More Active in Your Life!

    How to Be More Active in Your Life!
    by Matthew Tull, PhD, About.com

    When people feel depressed or anxious, they may be less likely to do the things they enjoy, and therefore, it is important to learn how to be more active. Behavioral activation is a way to do this. The goal of behavioral activation is simple. It helps people get more active in areas of their life that are pleasurable and enjoyable. Being more connected and involved with these experiences can improve your mood.

    Behavioral activation is easy. Follow the steps below to identify the goals and activities you want to accomplish so you can get started on your new, more active and positive lifestyle as soon as possible.

    Difficulty: Easy
    Time Required: It is completely up to you!

    Here's How:
    Identify your goals. Come up with a list of several short- and long-term goals that you would like to accomplish. These goals can have a definite end-point (for example, getting a new job) or may be never-ending (for example, being a more giving person).

    Next, identify smaller activities that you can complete each week that are going to take you closer to the goals that you identify. For example, if you want to be a more giving person, you might want to choose an activity that involves volunteer work or giving to a charity.

    On a sheet of paper, write down all the activities you want to complete for a certain week. Also indicate how many times you want to do the activity and for how long. For example, someone who writes down exercise as an activity may also write down that they want to exercise three times a week for at least half an hour.

    Each day, track your progress. When you have completed a goal for that week, place a checkmark next to the activity to indicate its completion.

    If you complete all your goals for a certain week, reward yourself. Give yourself credit for being more active and getting closer to meeting your life goals.

    Each week, build upon the previous week. Carry activities over from week to week. If there are certain activities that you want to make into a habit (for example, weekly exercise), repetition is important.

    Enjoy your new, more active and enjoyable lifestyle!

    Tips:
    When coming up with goals and activities, variety is key. Choose goals and activities from a number of different life areas, such as those that involve relationships, education, career, hobbies, spirituality, health.

    The purpose of behavioral activation is to improve your mood, not stress you out even more. Come up with activities that you find enjoyable. Also, start out slow. In the first couple weeks, come up with a list of activities that you know you can easily accomplish and then slowly build from there. Coming up with too many activities in the first week can be challenging and stressful, making it less likely that you will meet your goals.

    Track your progress. If you decide to use a form to keep track of your goals, hold onto forms from weeks past. Each month, review the progress you have made in getting closer to reaching your goals.

    Finally, commit to completing the activities you choose from week to week. However, it is important to remember that there are going to be times when other pressing needs take precedence over these activities. If you find that you are unable to complete your goals for a certain week, take a look back at the week and identify any obstacles that prevented you from doing so. Problem-solve how to side-step those obstacles next time they present themselves.

    Related video:


    Related articles:
    Behavioral Activation - About.com
    Behavioral Activation - Wikipedia
    Just Doing it: Behavioral Activation
    Behavioral Activation - Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders

    Worksheets:
    Overcoming Depression One Step at a Time: The New Behavioral Activation Approach to Getting Your Life Back
    www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/docs/WS-Behavioural Activation.pdf
    BATD Manual, Revised (in appendix)
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. #2

    Re: Behavioral Activation: How To Be More Active in Your Life!

    Regarding motivation:

    [Behavioral activation] targets inertia. When depression zaps motivation, the BA [behavioral activation] approach is to work from the "outside-in", scheduling activities and using graded task assignments to allow the client to slowly begin to increase their chance of having activity positively reinforced.

    Christopher Martell :: Behavioral Activation Therapy
    http://forum.psychlinks.ca/coping-st...ly-matter.html

    192_motivation.gif
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  3. #3

    Re: Behavioral Activation: How To Be More Active in Your Life!

    Preparing for Change

    • Keep a curious and open mind about the changes you are making.
    • Treat changes in your behavior as experiments from which you can learn rather than as tests of your willpower or self-worth.
    • To maximize the likelihood of success, choose new behaviors that are manageable.
    • Don't take on too much at once or raise your expectations too high.
    • Separate the process of making changes into steps.
    • Avoid criticizing, shaming, or blaming yourself as you make changes.
    • "Just do it" doesn't work. If change were that easy, you would have done it by now.

    Coping with Difficult Feelings

    Source: Overcoming Depression One Step At A Time
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  4. #4

    Re: Behavioral Activation: How To Be More Active in Your Life!

    What about trauma and loss?

    Often when people have experienced traumatic events and loss, negative thoughts and feelings about the event come to mind all the time. It becomes hard not to think about it or feel terrible that it happened. We find that it is important to understand how these experiences impact your current behavior. For example, you might find it difficult to sleep at night, and so you spend a lot of time sleeping during the day. If you sleep during the day, you may be unable to perform important daily activities or lack the energy and desire to socialize with family and friends. This treatment [behavioral activation therapy] will help you to identify activities that might be making your depression worse, and can help you modify or change those activities so that you feel depressed less often. The goal of this treatment is to help you make the best life possible for yourself. This can be hard work, but if you trust the process you will find that good things will come from your effort.

    Source: Brief Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression Manual, Revised
    Attached Files Attached Files
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  5. #5

    Re: Behavioral Activation: How To Be More Active in Your Life!

    Beliefs that Prevent Engagement in Positive Experiences

    • "Why should I do anything? I'll just feel bad again afterward."
    • "I've tried doing stuff I used to like. It just doesn't feel the same as it used to."
    • "I can't think of anything fun to do."
    • "I don't have the energy. I would just go through the motions, and that's no fun."

    Guidelines for Increasing Positive Emotional Experiences

    1. Pay attention to the activity. Be mindful. Watch each element of what is going on like you have never experienced it before.
    2. Be engaged. Acitvely participate. Let other thoughts and ideas that are not related to what you are doing fade away. Focus your energy and concentration on the enjoyable moment.
    3. Pay attention to the now. Don't think about when it will end or how long it will last.
    4. Pay attention to the feelings in the moment. Don't compare them to previous feelings, anticipated feelings, or ideas about how others might feel when they are engaged in the activity.
    5. Don't wait for a particular level of satisfaction or enjoyment to appear before you further engage in the activity. Be mindful of the now.

    Source: Depressed and Anxious: The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Workbook for Overcoming Depression & Anxiety
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  6. #6

    Re: Behavioral Activation: How To Be More Active in Your Life!

    Interventions for Ruminative Thinking

    Highlighting the consequences of ruminating

    • Ask yourself: How does ruminating affect my mood? Is it useful to ruminate? Does it help me to solve a problem in any way? Does it have short-term or long-term benefits (e.g., reducing an aversive experience such as sadness) or costs?

    Problem solving

    • Define a concrete problem to be solved; generate and evaluate possible solutions; identify the steps to help experiment with change; put the steps into action; review the results and troubleshoot.

    Attending closely to sensory experience

    • Direct your attention repeatedly to the sensory experience of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, or tasting in the moment.

    Refocusing on the task at hand

    • Identify what specific steps are needed to complete a task. Bring your attention back to one step at a time.

    Distracting oneself from the ruminative thoughts

    • Direct your attention repeatedly to a focus that distracts from ruminative thoughts. Do something active with your body (e.g., play with a pet, exercise) or with your mind (e.g., sing a song, go through the alphabet and list objects beginning with each letter).


    Source: Handouts from the book Behavioral Activation for Depression: A Clinician's Guide:
    Attached Files Attached Files
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  7. #7

    Re: Behavioral Activation: How To Be More Active in Your Life!

    The ACTION Acronym

    Through these ACTION steps, therapists can remind clients of the key components of BA [behavioral activation]: to evaluate the function of their behavior, to identify when they are engaging in avoidance behavior, to remember that they have a choice in how they respond to situations, to integrate new behaviors into routines, to observe and learn from the outcomes, and to persevere with the process of change.

    Assess the function of a behavior. In other words, the client asks him- or herself how the behavior is serving him or her. What are the consequences? Does the behavior act as a depressant? Is it inconsistent with long-term goals? Does the behavior act as an antidepressant? Is it consistent with long-term goals?

    Choose an action. The concept of choice is important for two reasons. First, BA is a collaborative treatment. Clients and therapists work together as partners. Clients maintain a choice over the actions that they implement. Second, many depressed clients do not have a sense of personal agency or control in their own lives. Explicitly pointing out that they have a choice highlights their ability to exert control and influence in their lives. Clients can choose to increase or decrease specific behaviors.

    Try the behavior chosen. Putting the plan into action is the heart of BA.

    Integrate new behaviors into a routine. This is an essential idea to get across. After months or even years of depression, one instance of activating may not have a strong impact. Trying a new behavior just once is not sufficient for evaluating outcome. The cumulative effect of working from the “outside-in” and increasing activity is important. Repeatedly activating as new behaviors are integrated into routines can lead to improvement in mood and life context.

    Observe the results. The hope, of course, is that integrating antidepressant behavior into a routine will improve the client’s depression. We cannot know if this will be the case until the client has scheduled activities, chosen to engage, and then, after integrating the activities over several trials, we and the client observed what happens. Observing the results, learning from what worked and what didn’t, and using this information to improve future action plans are all key parts of BA.

    Never give up. In other words, keep going through this process. Developing a new habit of activating and engaging requires repeated efforts. Over time, these antidepressant behaviors can become automatic, even amid overwhelmingly negative feelings.

    Source: Handouts from the book Behavioral Activation for Depression: A Clinician's Guide.
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  8. #8

    Re: Behavioral Activation: How To Be More Active in Your Life!

    Notebook and Weekly Therapy Plan

    These sheets can be used during your therapy or as a means of self-help to continue when therapy is completed.

    • What problems were discussed today in therapy?
    • What have I learned about the connections between how I feel and the activities in which I’m engaged?
    • What behaviors do I need to increase that are antidepressant for me?
    • When will I engage in these behaviors?
    • Have I broken these behaviors into steps that I’m likely to complete? If so, what are the steps?
    • What activities have a good chance of being powerful enough for me to lose myself in?
    • Are there any activities that I’m trying to escape or avoid?
    • Are there any behaviors I need to decrease because they act as a depressant for me and are inconsistent with my long-term goals?
    • To what stimuli or activities can I attend so as not to be stuck in my head?
    • Where am I likely to have a particularly hard time?
    • What can I do to make it likely that I’ll be able to cope?

    Source: Handouts from the book Behavioral Activation for Depression: A Clinician's Guide.
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  9. #9

    Re: Behavioral Activation: How To Be More Active in Your Life!

    RCA: Rumination Cues Action

    This may seem like a strange idea, but you can actually teach yourself to use ruminating as a cue to get active. You can use the acronym RCA, which stands for "rumination cues action." A cue is something that prompts you to be behave in a certain way. For example, a red stop sign...Unfortunately, if you tend to ruminate, then many things in your life probably cue you to do so. And, ruminating itself has probably become a cue for more ruminating. But that can change...

    Over the next few days, try to put this RCA process to work. Whenever you observe yourself ruminating, label it ("This is ruminating"), and then use it as a cue to shift to a different activity. If you stick with it for a few days, you should notice a major decrease in the amount of time you spend ruminating, and your mood should improve.

    Source: Overcoming Depression One Step At A Time: The New Behavioral Activation Approach to Getting Your Life Back
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  10. #10

    Re: Behavioral Activation: How To Be More Active in Your Life!

    How Thinking Can Be Problematic Behavior

    The process of ruminating keeps clients stuck in negative states and almost invariably results in disengagement from the environment. This assessment is consistent with the formulations of Lewinsohn (2001), who proposed that depression elicits a focus on the self that is repetitive but doesn't lead to problem solving. Clients can become caught in mental ruts, thinking, for example, "I feel down today—why does this keep happening to me? Will I ever beat this? This is just too hard." Such thoughts rarely have end points, they do not lead to effective problem solving, and the thoughts recur repeatedly. The consequence is a self-perpetuating process that keeps the individual stuck in his or her thoughts, less likely to find a positive, active solution, and more likely to be disengaged from other activities. Such sustained focus on internal feeling states may decrease any pleasure that can be derived from activities and may perpetuate depression by preventing goal attainment.

    Source: Behavioral Activation for Depression: A Clinician's Guide
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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