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SamTastic Weekly Tip – 2/21/22: Try Behavioral Activation

Today’s Tip: Try Behavioral Activation

Feeling stuck? The press of the work, the weight of the responsibility and the seemingly endless pandemic can make feeling stuck an everyday experience.

How can you get unstuck?

You might try behavioral activation: taking action to create motivation. Brad Stulburg, an executive coach, recommends:

“If you don’t know where to begin, a good place to start is by reflecting on what matters to you most, what provides you with a sense of well-being and groundedness. Then ask yourself how to apply that activation energy strategically. What actions will give you the oomph you need?”

This is a good question to pose in your SAM Daily Meeting. It might be taking personal time to work out, meditate or take a break. It might be going in a classroom to help a teacher you know is struggling. It might be starting that task you have been putting off.

Stulberg, author, The Practice of Groundedness, explains:

“The challenge with behavioral activation is mustering enough energy to start acting on the things that matter to you: Make that phone call, schedule that walk with friends, write that email, get off social media and start on the creative project you’ve been procrastinating on. This may sound simple, but when you are languishing, simple does not mean easy.

But a mind-set shift can be a powerful tool. When you feel down, unmotivated or apathetic, you can give yourself permission to feel those feelings but not dwell on them or take them as destiny. Instead, you shift the focus to getting started with what you have planned in front of you, taking your feelings, whatever they may be, along for the ride. Doing so gives you the best chance at improving your mood.

It can be helpful to think of this initial oomph as activation energy. Sometimes we need more, and sometimes we need less. For many of us, even the little things require more these days, and that’s OK. It won’t be like this forever. If anything, the more we get going, the easier it becomes. Just as rest and languishing can create inertia that builds on itself, action and energy can be self-reinforcing. It just takes some extra work to overcome the initial stasis and friction — it can feel like the laws of physics apply to our psyches, too.”

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