One of the symptoms of depression includes loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed. Sometimes people don’t even notice this symptom until they reflect back a few months and realize it has been quite a while since they have engaged in activities in which they used to find enjoyment. Loss of interest doesn’t just happen with depression; it is also common when experiencing burn-out. Take a moment to think about all of your favorite activities—when is the last time you have done any of them? If the answer is “Wow, it has been a while”, perhaps it is time to revisit some of those hobbies.
Sometimes we may be so disconnected from what we used to enjoy that we start having doubts and thinking, "Would I even enjoy doing that nowadays?" And that is totally okay! Perhaps you have outgrown some of your old hobbies and it is time to explore something new. The interests you have today, do not have to be the same as the interests you had five years ago. We may just be entering a new season in our life, which opens the door to new interests—and how awesome is that?!
One strategy that cognitive-behavioral therapists like to use with clients who are struggling with loss of interest in activities or low motivation is known as “Behavioral Activation”. At its most simple level, it is a fancy term for getting back to hobbies and tasks that you once enjoyed or were important to you.
A simple first step would be to name three activities you enjoy and three responsibilities you need to take care of that you have been putting off. Try to do at least one activity or task each day for a week. You may even want to rate (scale 1-10) your level of depression before activity/task and level of enjoyment/sense of achievement directly after completion. Noticing an improvement in depression levels can help motivate you to continue the following week.
If you are having trouble figuring out activities you enjoy, skim through this list and try to find at least three things you enjoy or at least think you might enjoy:
-Go to the movies -Go on a walk -Meeting new people -Reading a book -Taking a bath -Writing poetry -Arts/crafts -Woodworking -Gym -Repairing things around the house -Shopping -Yoga -Going out to dinner -Photography -Sewing -Driving -Listening to music -Gardening -Going fishing -Journaling -Exploring a new area -Meeting with a friend for coffee -Going to church -Working on a puzzle -Going dancing -Taking dog for a walk -Visiting a museum
If you are still struggling to find a few things you might enjoy, there are plenty of free lists available online that you can browse through!
Once we begin to “activate” ourselves again, we may start to notice decreased depression/burn-out symptoms. We also begin to understand the relationship between our behaviors and our mood; when we increase the time we spend doing things we enjoy, we experience more positive emotions. When the activities we engage in are in direct alignment with our values and responsibilities, we may start feeling a greater sense of achievement.
If you are struggling with loss of enjoyment/low motivation, or if you are having a difficult time figuring out what exactly you enjoy and value in life—it may be time to schedule an appointment with a licensed therapist. Here at 253 Therapy and Consult, we are here to support you on your journey to getting back to you and finding enjoyment in life again.