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Adherence / Compliance -- How do you make yourself do the things that make you feel better?

Community Member

Hi Everyone,

One of my biggest challenges with depression is doing the things I know make me feel better and make a positive difference to my emotional state. Especially when I'm feeling my worst, these things would make me feel better but I can't make myself do them because depression just kills all motivation.

Just hoping to draw on the collective experience here. What kind of things do you to help make yourself do the things that make you feel better?



40 Replies 40

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hello Zailleh, for me it's about routine and scheduling. Make an appointment with yourself to do these things. But the key is not to try to do too much at once, otherwise you can get discouraged easily when you drop off with one of your resolutions and then just drop the lot. Make small changes. Say if you want to be more active for example, start with a simple thing that is very doable. Like fifteen minutes walk a day.

And the next thing is to not beat yourself up if you miss a goal. Say if you want to exercise three times a week, and you have Thursday as one of your days. Things happen, you have a bad day, and you miss your Thursday. Tell yourself that that is ok, and that tomorrow is another day. Reset and start again. That's the important thign, you can always start again afresh the next day. 

It's about a mindset of maintenance too. Understanding that these things we do to make us feel well aren't cures, they're just things we have to do, like vacuuming the house. 

Community Member

Hi there  Zailleh


Jess’s response to you has really nailed it.  An appointment, a routine, a schedule – it basically all goes or comes down to being committed.  Make the commitment for it to happen;   and as Jess suggested, perhaps try for going out for a walk;  three times per week.  When I’m starting off on a program again, I usually start at 20 minutes;  and I do it by going out one way for 10 minutes.  Then turn around and come back.   And with me being the competitive beast that I am, I always have this little game where I’ve got to come back faster than I went out (this is purely something that I do and don’t suggest it for anyone else – just thought I’d share).   What I do want to emphasise though is just HOW FAST 10 minutes goes by.


You look at your watch and 8 minutes have gone by and wow, so you’ve only got another 2 minutes before you have to turn around.


Ok ok, that’s all for a walk or even walk/jog routine.


But it’s the commitment to do this;  OR whatever else you may decide … and another pearl from Jess was the thing about NOT wanting to do too many to start with;  just try for ONE thing to start off with.   You will have a far greater chance of sticking with it if it’s simply one thing;   and doing it again and again, so what we are after is to change the word “commitment” to become the word “habit”.


Would love to hear back from you on this.



Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Awesome question!! I see this one get asked a lot in posts, so having a thread where we can pull together ideas is awesome!

its so tricky isn't it! Depression makes us tired and uninterested. And yeah part of the way to beat it is healthy lifestyle Changes, like eating healthy and exercising, plus hobbies or socialising etc.

the answers above are fantastic, about scheduling stuff but also forgiving yourself if today is a bad day.. There's always tomorrow. Wise words- very wise words.

i find it's important to prioritise and not do too much. So I know with me, when I'm deoressed which is thankfully rare nowadays, I get overwhelmed by the sheer effort of anything. "but if I go out with my friend, I'll have to shower and get dressed and drive all the way there, and I'm not going to have any fun anyway cos I feel so sad/ tired, and then I'll have to drive home" and BAM I've talked myself out of it before I've even moved.

so I try deciding on ONE thing to do that day, or maybe say "one day this week I'm going to do this". And I focus on what Ill get out of doing it. "Well actually if I meet my friend closer to home than I won't have to drive so far, and I'll really like seeing my friend, we're going to go out for a lovely meal, infact I think I'll order my favourite pasta and treat myself to dessert..."

I still have to do this sometimes, because although I've long recovered from depression and anxiety, I still have to make sure I don't let myself go back. Sometimes I still have the little voice that goes "no don't bother going for a walk, it's hot outside and I'm tired".

now when I hear that voice I have to consider it's real meaning: is it a legitimate reason not to go? Is it really a good excuse? Or is it just that little old anxious voice popping up, and I have to remind it "no it's going to be fun..."

So maybe start off small- say you'll go for 3 walks this week, and 1 coffee with friends. Then spend ages talking yourself up to it, how awesome it wil be . Once you have some good experiences it gets easier, cos you can use them as proof "hey I didn't think it was gonna be fun last time, but it was heaps of fun and I felt better afterwards. So it'll be fun this time too"


Community Member
Hi Zailleh, great post and something that stumps me too, in fact only this week I had exactly the same thing. 

I know exercise makes me feel great but this week, I've lost all motivation. The thing that helps me is not only booking in the time with myself but with a dear friend. It helps me keep the appointment if I know that someone who loves me and wants to help by accompanying me to do something that is good for my body and mind, is waiting for me. I only ever keep it to one-on-one or two-on-one so it's not too intimidating if I want to just cocoon. 

Also keeping a diary of how these sessions make me feel is helpful too. 

Much love and all the best xx


Hello and welcome to the forum. You have put your finger on one of the most difficult aspects of depression, making ourselves do something. Well you have had lots of good advice and techniques that I cannot really add to. All I can say is go with these suggestions.

When I was severely depressed my daughter said, baby steps mom, baby steps. I've written that on here so often I should make it my forum name. But it's true. And whenever you manage a step, however small, it makes you feel so good that it becomes a motivator for trying again.

So no reaching for the sky or even the moon. Concentrate on the immediate step in front of you and work on achieving that before you look further afield. When your horizon is close it is more attainable and gives you hope. Looking too far ahead can feel as though you have too far to go, you will never get there so why bother.

I have found as others above, that making a date with one or two friends is easier than trying to do it alone. I always believed I could not let anyone down so I went on my "date". And invariably I had a good time. So whether or not you explain to your friends how you feel, make a catch up time and stick with it.

It is amazing how a demonstration of being loved and cared for can lift you. And a change of conversation from the constant spin of self talk can bring a smile to your face.

I hope you can respond to these posts. We all care for each other and rejoice in your successes.



Hi Mary,

New to the site, i justo read your comment and it felt warm and caring.

I don't have the energy today to take a baby step but it was nice to read your advice.


Dear Pelusa

Thanks for your reply and welcome to Beyond Blue.  I hope you continue to post on this site. Have you thought of starting your own thread? That way you will get responses to your questions and difficulties.

Hope to hear from you.


Hi all, I'm new to this site too. Not sure what I'm looking for as I'm aware of all the things I can do to help myself. Baby steps, a day at a time, do at least one pleasurable thing each day, exercise, exercise, exercise, mindfulness, positive thinking, blah blah blah.  I've been on anti-depressants for many years - it started as post-natal depression 27 years ago. I also get really bad headaches that last for weeks at a time then suddenly disappear.  I have a great doctor who has investigated my headaches & I'm just one of those people that gets headaches. I also dream a lot - vivid disturbing dreams. . I see a psychologist occasionally but not sure if that has really been of any benefit. The thing is, my mind has been great for months - then suddenly every little thing is getting to me. I'm angry, moody, teary, unmotivated & really don't like myself at all. I was aware that I was starting to feel a bit 'flat' & keep telling myself 'don't let this happen. Don't let the black dog drag you down'. But it has & I'm mad at it.

Oh well I've had my rant. And hopefully I can pull myself up out of this black hole very soon.  

 Soo hating that I feel so crappy & have to turn to wine & cigarettes to relax my brain & make me start to feel positive about life.

Depression does not discriminate !!!!

We own our home, we have 2 investment properties, 4 children, 6 grandchildren, a dog & a cat, we are young retirees (mid fifties) so life should be awesome. But my brain does stupid things. Anyway I've had another rant ...... I guess that's a good thing ...

Why are so many people struggling with depression? Why do I hear of so many young people (late teens / early twenties) suiciding? . I'm also concerned about my 22 yr old daughter who has apparent anxiety issues .... Heredity?? She said to me today something to the effect ' what about the people that you hurt'. Yes that is what has stopped me from hurting myself. My children!!! Imagine them having to say 'my mum committed suicide'.  Not a chance. EVER.