Over the years, it is possible for the activities and responsibilities of life to layer one on top of another. The combined weight of all these activities and responsibilities can be crushing. One of the first things to do in taking stock of your life is to look at what you are doing.
Think about all of the things that you do daily, weekly, monthly, and otherwise periodically. Think about your reasons for engaging in each of your activities. What are those reasons? Are they still valid today? Are your reasons for engaging in each activity the same today as they were when you started? Have the reasons changed? Have you changed?
This is an intentional, purposeful look at the activities that build up your life, including family, work, recreational, religious, and community. It is possible, over time, for an activity to become unhinged from its original reason. If your life is filled with too many activities separated from the reasons for doing them, then it is possible for you to feel that your life is futile. You might feel that what you are doing and how hard you are working and make little difference. Life can seem busy and burdensome yet without purpose.
This outlook can be a major factor in environmental causes of depression. As you look over your activities and how you are feeling about your life, what you are looking for is twofold: the first is the number of activities, and the second is the overall effect those activities have on your life. Depression can occur when the amount of activities are either too great or too small. If you are engaged in too many activities, your life can become a blur of motion without any real substance, and depression can result. Benjamin Franklin said, “Do not confuse motion with action.” If you are engaged in too few worthwhile activities, and have isolated and insulated yourself from outside relationships, this motion without action can result in depression.
Depression can occur when your activities are out of balance in the following ways:
- You have too many activities, and the sum of them outweighs their individual value. When you’ve got too many things going collectively, you are too busy to enjoy any of them individually.
- You may have activities but too few worthwhile ones. When the sum of your activities is draining, the draining ones interfere with the worthwhile ones.
- You have too few activities in your life. When you’re bigger activity is inactivity, you rob yourself of the stimulation and engagement of purpose and people.
You may find that you are simply too busy. If so, you need to evaluate which activities to continue and which activities to let go. Or perhaps you have isolated yourself from meaningful, worthwhile activities and will need to stretch and expand yourself. This may mean giving up some activities so you’ll have time to integrate more worthwhile ones into your schedule. Intentionally changing the pace of your life can help you move forward in the recovery from depression. By evaluating the substance of your activities, you can make informed decisions about which ones to add, which ones to support, and which ones to let go.
If you or someone you love is struggling with depression caused by grief, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. In addition to physical, mental, and emotional treatment of depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE offers Christian support to address the spiritual components and struggles in a person’s life that affect grief and depression. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a depression recovery specialist today.
Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Turing Your Down into Up: A Realistic Plan for Healing from Depression.