7th week: functioning

Activating yourself for functioning

Depression very often has a negative impact on a person’s ability to function. In cases of minor depression, the person usually has enough of their ability to function left to be able to manage obligatory everyday tasks. In more severe states of depression, the person’s ability to function may become so low that they do not even get out of bed every day, for example. 

It may take time for a person to regain their ability to function after depression. As such, this is something to pay special attention to. The next video provides more information about regaining one’s ability to function. 

Regaining functional ability

Contemplate: How is your ability to function at the moment? Are you able to take care of yourself? How are you with everyday chores? Would you like to improve your ability to function in some area of your life? 

A decline in a person’s ability to function, e.g. due to an illness, may be an underlying cause of depression. You could say that the relationship between depression and functional ability goes both ways: they both affect each other. Accordingly, the activation of functioning is one of the best ways to treat depression. 

It is important to start with small steps, especially if we have lost our ability to function. We people have a tendency to overestimate what we can achieve in the short term and underestimate what we can achieve in the long term. We often strive for excessively large changes too fast, thus exposing ourselves to experiences of failure.

Our functioning may have been on autopilot for a long time. As we learned in the previous weeks, the autopilot mode often steers our thinking towards patterns that are harmful, unfortunately. It may also prompt us to act in ways that do not take us towards recovery. Conscious choices of what we want to do and carrying out these actions consume mental resources, but they give back a lot.

Exercises for the week

This week, consciously observe pleasant experiences the same way you observed unpleasant experiences last week. When examining such experiences, write down the following: 

  • What was your experience? 
  • What did you feel in your body during the experience? Describe the different sensations as accurately as you can. 
  • What emotions did you notice? 
  • What kinds of thoughts were going on in your mind? 
  • What are your thoughts now as you are writing about your experience? 

Additionally, try to consciously carry out small deeds that you have planned for your wellbeing. When doing so, pay conscious attention to how carrying out these deeds feels to you, what kinds of thoughts and emotions they arouse in you and what kinds of bodily experiences they entail. Enable yourself to see it when you successfully complete these deeds. For example, you can cross off completed deeds on your list, place a sticker by each completed deed, go pick a flower for yourself for every completed deed or otherwise make the completion of deeds visible to yourself.