Work life balance is fundamental to our mental wellbeing and can easily become out of sync without us even realising it, particularly when we are feeling stressed. This imbalance can lead to depression and anxiety. Going back to basics and keeping an activity diary for a week or two can provide us with useful information. Broadly speaking we are interested in 4 different areas:
1/ Bodily Self Care – this would include how we look after our physical body, i.e. exercise, nutrition, rest and sleep, self-grooming, medication, etc.
2/ Achievement – this would include work, study, housework, any tasks / activities that gives us a sense of having achieved something.
3/ Connecting with others – this can be family, friends, work colleagues – in person, over the telephone or social media. It can simply be being in an environment where there are others as long as we feel connected. It can also include connecting with animals. Our pets can be very therapeutic.
4/ Enjoyment – hobbies, interests, fun activities, relaxing activities – anything that gives us a sense of pleasure
Each day categorise how you are spending your time into each of the areas. Sometimes one activity may fulfil more than one category, e.g. walking the dog can be exercise so would meet bodily self care, it could also be an achievement if you really didn’t feel like going, it could be connecting with others as you may have met other dog walkers, and you may have enjoyed it.
By monitoring our activity according to these categories we can gather information and gain a sense of where there are gaps, where we might need to make some changes in our lives.
In my work as a CBT therapist I see all too easily how we can forget to enjoy ourselves. We can get so caught up with work and what we think we should be doing we can lose sight of enjoyment and connecting with others. Or we may have crammed so much into our day that we have no time to stop and just be. Activity monitoring can be a useful tool for anyone who wants to take stock and see whether they are tending to their mental wellbeing. To help us do this we can use a form called BACE (https://www.get.gg/docs/BACEdiary-weekly.pdf) which is a daily activity monitoring form. You will notice that the word BACE is an acronym for the four areas.
Once we have gathered information and highlighted the areas that need to be addressed we can use the same form as a daily planner to set ourselves small goals to address the gaps.
Sometimes the simplest strategies are the most helpful.
Rebecca Mead is an accredited, registered and experienced Psychotherapist offering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) to individuals adults. Rebecca is available at our Brighton and Hove Practice.
Further reading by Rebecca Mead –