Planning Pleasant Activities

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Planning Pleasant Activities

Increasing Enjoyment Throughout Your Week.

Pleasant event scheduling is one strategy that is often used in the treatment of depression. Not only can this help with depression, but it can help with increasing overall joy which is helpful in the treatment of most mental health concerns and those who are looking to lift their mood.

Although it is very intuitive, research shows that consistent engagement in activities that feel enjoyable or give people a sense of accomplishment helps to create a life that feels exciting and meaningful. As straightforward as it seems, a large number of clients I have worked with often don’t engage in pleasant activities, which can worsen mental health symptoms and decrease feelings of fulfillment in life.

This lack of engagement can be for any number of reasons including low motivation when coping with depression, to worry about getting out when someone is coping with anxiety, to fear of pain for those dealing with chronic pain conditions. Moreover, most individuals don’t take time to plan these activities out in advance. Taking a few minute each week to plan when you will want to do something increases the likelihood that you will actually complete an activity.

Having planned out when you’d like to do something and what activity would be best suited to that day and time helps with accountability and reduces the need to continually try to think of something to do in the moment (which often time results in frustration and reduces the chances that you complete an event).

Below is a sample of simple planning chart that be used to help keep you on track with planning and accomplishing tasks.

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Taking time to use a straight forward log like the one above to plan when and what you are going to do can make a big difference in moving from thinking about an activity to completing one. If you think that planning your activities may help you to increase your daily level of engagement, you can download the full log for your own use here.

The other biggest barrier that I see come up when people are trying to get more active is coming up with what to do once your decide you want to do something. As discussed above, having the what decided in advance reduces the chances that you’ll get stuck or frustrated with trying to decide and have more time enjoying the activity. Here is a list of many different activities and span various interest areas. Using a list like this allows you to try new and different things or think outside of your usual go to activities which may not feel as desirable. It can also help to challenge you a bit to try things outside of your comfort zone and find new activities that bring you a sense of joy or excitement. If your budget is tight, you may try Googling free things to do in your city and surrounding area (San Diegans - here’s a great link for that!)

With consistent use of pleasant activity scheduling, most people see a few things happen in a relatively short amount of time. They tend to notice an increase in feelings of joy, satisfaction with life, and accomplishment. This often results in a decrease in mental health symptoms. Additionally, individuals using this tool find more things of interest that they can continue to choose to do often times increasing social interaction and deepening relationships.

Considering that pleasant event planning only takes a few minutes a week and can reap great rewards, it may be worth a try for you!