How to Escape the Low Mood Low Energy Cycle

Habit: Activity Scheduling and Optimisation

Feeling low can affect our energy levels. We might stop doing the things we usually enjoy and feel less motivated to try new things.

When we’re physically tired, we need rest. But when our mood is low, the opposite is true—when we do less and sleep more, it makes us feel even more low and lethargic.

Also, when we do less, we might end up ruminating on negative thoughts and situations. This makes us feel even worse, and ends up creating this vicious cycle:
We can hack this vicious cycle by using activity scheduling and optimisation.

Activity scheduling and optimisation involve us getting off autopilot mode, overriding emotional urges, and making conscious decisions that help us feel better.

3 components of activity scheduling and optimisation

  • Increasing our activity levels
  • Optimising our activities around what's personally nourishing for us
  • Limiting what depletes us

We then enter a positive feedback loop that looks something like this:

Activity scheduling and optimisation is used in behavioural activation (BA) and has been found to be particularly therapeutic for people who experience intense emotions and have difficulties regulating them.

Motivation follows action

As mentioned in The New Habit Framework, we cannot rely on feelings of motivation in order to engage in a behaviour. Motivation is an emotion—it naturally fluctuates. Low mood is strongly associated with low motivation. Once we're engaging in an activity, that's often when we can start to feel the emotion of motivation, a sense of being motivated to continue. In other words: motivation follows action.


Activity Scheduling and Optimisation Resources

Happiness and Mindful Living Planner

The Happiness and Mindful Living Planner

  • Plan, test and evaluate activities according to their impact on your mood and energy levels