Why Can’t I Just Take a Walk When I’m Depressed?

I was recently asked why it’s so hard for us to get out of bed and just take a darn walk around the block when we are depressed. We KNOW we will feel better. Why can’t we do this, darn it!?

Here is my answer.

If your goal is to get out of bed and take a walk to feel better and get on with the day- the depressed brain will be overwhelmed and will often shut you down. Here is why.

When we are stable, we have NO idea how many steps go in to getting things done. We just do them.

The depressed brain is different. It breaks tasks into micro steps and gets easily overwhelmed. How many steps do you think are in the task you set for yourself in the morning to just take a darn walk to feel better? Without reading below, pick a number.

Here is how the depressed brain sees it:

1. Turn of alarm
2. Sit up
3. Put feel on the floor
4. Get out of bed
5. Go to the bathroom
6. Brush teeth
7. Wash face
8. Fix hair
9. Choose walking clothes
10. Put on walking shoes
11. Tie shoes
12. Walk into kitchen
13. Decide what to eat and drink
14. Prepare food and drink
15. Deicide where to walk
16. Decide how long to walk
17. Decide if I actually want to walk
18. Walk
19. If sweaty, take a shower
20. Put on another set of clothes
21. Fix hair

Get on with my day.

That is ridiculous if you think about it.

When depressed, we are not able to do the things that come naturally when we are stable. We don’t think about that list when we are well. We simply wake up, get ready and go walk.

The solution is to focus on the list and not the walking. When you do the first three things that it takes to actually get out of bed, praise yourself.

Good job! Today is one of ‘those days’ and getting out of bed is a big accomplishment.

Next, the bathroom stuff. Good job!

Next the clothes and shoes.

You get the idea.

To be honest- the walk is not the goal when you are depressed. The goal is to get to out your door so that walk can happen.

Then the walk is icing on the cake.

We can do this!


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