What is Behavioural Activation?

← All Topics

When we are depressed or going through a rough patch we can end up reducing the amount we do because of our symptoms.  This can create a vicious cycle where a lack of activity keeps our mood low or makes it worse.  Behavioural Activation is a CBT technique for reversing this process by gradually increasing the amount of activity we do in a manageable way.

Steps:

  1. Make a list of some of the things you have stopped doing because of your symptoms.
  2. Check that your list contains a mixture of routine activities, necessary activities and fun activities or achievements.
  3. Organise your list into ‘easy’ ‘moderate’ and ‘difficult categories.
  4. Pick one or two activities, starting with the easier ones and schedule a time to do them.

My Personal Experience with Behavioural Activation

I first came across behavioural activation when I was seeing a counsellor. It’s a technique to help you start again with the things you have stopped doing. The worksheets I’ve used are designed to help with depression but I’ve found it useful with setbacks and flare-ups whether I am depressed or not.

When I’m feeling ill or low I prefer to use a behaviour activation worksheet rather than setting goals in my head or making a to-do list.  It is hard to keep ideas in my head at those times and I can be very apathetic from the low mood. Migraine and a cold can make me more tired and foggy than usual. If I use a worksheet or workbook I can follow the instructions and I’ll need less brain-power or motivation.