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Participating in Activities

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 9 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Depression Activities Activity Social

Isolation loneliness and withdrawal from friends and family are all symptoms that you may experience as part of your depression. Participating in activities can seem like the last thing you want to do and even if the will is there, fatigue, sadness and fear may keep you from actually leaving your home. There are, however, some small steps you can take to encourage participation in activities.

People who suffer from depression may find they don't enjoy activities that were once a source of pleasure. By withdrawing, they lose out on the positive experiences and interaction involved in these activities. Various studies have suggested that by increasing participation in activities, individuals who are depressed can better manage their symptoms and may experience greater relief.

Find Activities You Enjoy

Finding activities you enjoy may involve getting back into ones that used to be pleasurable, or discovering new ones. Some helpful things to do are:

  • Write down all of the activities you used to enjoy and plan to try each one out again
  • Plan and organize an activity schedule and do your best to keep on track with it
  • Make a list of new activities to try and consider doing a new one each week
  • Add activities in slowly, one at a time, so you don't become overwhelmed

If you don't enjoy an activity that was previously a source of pleasure, try not to fret and focus on newer ones. Be open to suggestions from friends and family and try to maintain an attitude of willingness and discovery.

The Boring Stuff

Activities aren't just hobbies and games. Some of the activities that you may need to do will involve household chores and home maintenance. Indeed, it can be difficult to muster up energy for tasks and activities that seem mundane and drab. If you find you're having a tough time getting dishes done and keeping your home in its usual form, consider ways to make the tasks more appealing. You might wish to:

  • Listen to some favourite music while you perform chores
  • Provide rewards for each task completed
  • Invite friends over to enjoy your freshly cleaned home

Make Activities Social

If you can make activities social, you will benefit from the communication and interaction with friends or family. Consider walking groups as a way to meet new people, make friends and enjoy an activity with like-minded individuals. In fact, walking is a great way to enhance your mood, obtain the physical benefits of exercise and still carry on a conversation with a friend. Other activities may involve sports or hobbies such as cooking.


Keeping activities consistent can be important as part of your depression management. If you have a tendency to back out of planned activities, try to plan the activity with a friend. If you know someone is relying on you to be there, this can help you to maintain an activity schedule. Keep your activities listed in an activity diary and check them off when completed. Actually seeing that check mark can remind you that you have reached a goal and the satisfaction can keep you motivated to maintain a consistent schedule.

Handling Low Energy

You may have poor sleep patterns and suffer from exhaustion and generalised aches and fatigue as part of your depression. It can be an enormous challenge to get up and moving each day when your energy levels are so low. Some people find that eating a healthy diet can help improve energy levels and may also keep them steady. Small naps may help, both before and after participating in an activity. Although you should to listen to your body and rest as needed, the temptation can be to just stay in frequently when you feel tired. Sometimes, you need to give yourself a little push and you will find that you actually feel physically and mentally energised after participating in an activity. By focusing on the positive benefits of activity participation, you can hopefully improve your depressive moods and interact more with friends and family.

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