If you’ve experienced depression I am sure you’ve heard (once or twice) that you should exercise to improve your mood. That advice isn’t wrong; and yet, it isn’t easy. I am here to let you know that there is another very powerful antidote for depression and it takes the form of the DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) skill of BUILDing MASTERY.
Build Mastery is a very small skill in the DBT manual (which makes me sad) but it packs a powerful punch. To build mastery is to spend time developing a skill/talent/hobby/activity. It is important that you understand the following table:
|Too Easy||No effect, could backfire and make you feel infantilized|
|Too Hard||Likely leads to you feeling incompetent|
The task that you choose to work on (let’s take running a 5k as an example) needs to fall in the middle row: challenging. If you decide, with no prior training to run a full marathon (too hard), you will injure yourself, fail and probably feel worse about yourself. If you choose to walk to 10 paces forward (too easy), you won’t feel any sense of accomplishment because that’s too easy! You won’t continue to work toward your goal of running and therefore will feel like the exercise was pointless. The sweet spot involves breaking your goal of running a 5k into reasonable and tangible steps (such as researching and purchasing running shoes, finding local trails/parks, downloading Couch 2 5k or joining a running club, sharing your plan with others, beginning to work up to short jogs and slowly lengthening the distance.
Lets say, you hate running and now you’re angry that I suggested that. Fair enough…you can build mastery in almost any area!
- Learning a language
- Computer coding
- Playing chess
- Any sport
- Reading (longer books, more complex books)
- Home repairs
I think build mastery is an attainable skill over this quarantine! I have been brushing up on my watercolor skills as a way to reduce stress and practice a challenging activity. Take some time to think about what you could work on!