One of the symptoms of depression is a lack of desire to do anything – even things you normally enjoy, and a lack of the ability to feel joy from activities that have previously made you happy. Therefore, if you are depressed, you will often start isolating yourself and stop participating in activities or hobbies. But this often leads to a negative spiral, that makes one feel even more tired and depressed.

What you do affects what you feel. Therefore it’s good to use activities systematically to help overcome depression. A good start is to keep a log of what you do in a day, and a plan-book of goals you want to achieve. It may seem like simple and pointless exercise, but scientific studies show that systematic and increased activity have a positive effect – even on severe depression.


Keeping a logbook means that you note what you do, and approximately when you do it. You may find it too demanding to do this every day for a whole week. Instead, you can choose some representative days, such as two days a week and one day on the weekend. Or you can select specific time periods during a day, for example in the morning or in the afternoon, where you log your activities.

Examples of activities that you keep track of are; drinking coffee, eating breakfast, going for a walk, cleaning, watching TV, taking a shower and so on. It is an especially good idea to log things that you know have an effect on your mood – such as sleep.

Along with the activity, you also note when you did it, and how depressed you felt on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 means you were not depressed and 10 means that the depression was at its worst. The purpose of this is to give you an overview of how you spend your time, and how the things you do affect your mood.


In the plan-book, you plan the day’s tasks. They can be small tasks such as making the bed or clearing the kitchen table. If you are very depressed, it can be very helpful to have a plan for what has to be done, that is made in advance. The plan helps you get started with activities and minimizes the possibility of overthinking and negative automatic thoughts.

To begin with, you only need to describe the plans briefly, for example in one word, and there does not have to be many activities. It is also a good idea to remember that the plan is only a guideline – if you do not manage to follow it, that is completely alright. It is also a good idea to focus on making realistic plans that you actually think you will be able to follow through on. If you are not able to follow your plan, try to observe and examine what you feel and think. The plan should inspire and motivate, and not give you guilt and shame.

The point of the plan is not to keep track of how much you get done in a day, or how it went, but it should create space for progess. The small steps can be very important and even completing what could be considered as small, simple tasks can help.

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