A behavioural activation chart is a brilliant way to track your activity for those of you who feel they are not making the most out of their time. It’s also a brilliant coping mechanism for stress and depression – something I know all about! My nickname used to be ‘stressy’, no lie! I am quite highly strung and easily irritated. It’s why I’m on a quest to find enlightenment and serenity via mindfulness, meditation, closeness to Allah and any other way I can. In fact, I’m pretty sure chocolate aids stress too!
Anything can cause stress: moving home, children, a new job, even getting married. The difference between this being a blip and a major hurdle however, is whether you suffer from any mental health issues like depression or anxiety. Depression can leave you feeling overwhelmed over seemingly small events. It makes it’s victims suffer from feelings of hopelessness, severe dejection, a lack of interest in things; and feelings of personal worthlessness. This lack of interest in things leads to procrastination, but here’s the thing: you’re not aware you’re doing it.
Time seems to pass by in a blur, you don’t know where it’s gone! You’re convinced you are so busy or maybe yo.u just feel mentally exhausted. Either way because you aren’t tracking your time you can’t really account for where it’s being spent. This is why you need to track your activity with a behavioural activation chart/
Behavioural activation chart – a CBT resource
My depression left me unable to cope with every day life. Little things like cooking would stress me out; I had zero tolerance for noise. Quiet in a flat filled with children is damn near impossible! What did help apart from medication, was a technique I learned from CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I am, of course referring to a behavioural activation chart.
When you suffer from depression you have less energy to do anything as you feel demotivated. This makes things worse because it’s activity that boosts our energy levels and in turn makes us feel better. CBT turns this idea on its head with a behaviour activation chart. An increase in activity leads to feeling more hopeful. This improves depression which gives you greater energy and that leads to increased activity. It’s a cycle.
By injecting behaviour in to your routine, whether it’s doing things for pleasure or necessity you change the pattern; leading to a decrease in depression. A great exercise is a behavioural activation chart. Fresh air and getting out and about really helps also. Building up a routine serves as an anchor of connection, in hard times you turn to what you know. The routine can be anything; for me it was going out into town with a friend and our kids.
How do I use a behavioural activation chart?
It’s actually pretty easy to use one of these charts. The hours of the day are mapped out for you, you simply insert what you are doing in each slotted time. Let’s say between 7-8 am I have breakfast and give the kids breakfast. From 8-10 am I am doing laundry. At 11:30 – 1pm I am making lunch and getting them ready for afternoon nursery. I think I have been busy the whole morning, but what happened to those 1.5 hours from 10 -11:30 am? That’s where I can inject some activity to really make my time productive. Whether it’s reading the Qur’an, exercising, writing in my gratitude journal or simply doing some being mindful in the moment, I have time free. All I need to do is be aware of how I spend my time.
Download your free behavioural activation chart here.
Stress and procrastination affects us all, but it doesn’t have to cripple you. There are so many mechanisms for coping with stress, but the first step is admitting you need help when it gets out of hand. I hope I’ve offered some ways that you can help you overcome stress.