Stressed Out? Frustrated? Tired? Overwhelmed? Sadness? Pressure? Worry?
(How to reduce depression and anxiety using star charts by setting short term goals)
The purpose of the star chart is to apply the concepts you read about to your life. A star chart is created for one week of activities. Attached is a Rapid Symptom Reduction (RSR) blank star chart in which to fill out your personal customized self-help and holistic therapy related goals for the coming week using cognitive and behavioral psychology self help tips.
It is very simple, don’t try to make it complex at first. Remember 5th grade, when you use to have a chore chart and you got to put a sticker or a star on it every time you accomplished your goal? Same thing here. You can tailor it to suit your individuality, preferences, and therapy goals. If you have a broken foot you won’t be jogging, but you can adapt the exercise topic to include stretching, etc. The important thing is to do something, people with depression often have anhedonia, the loss of interest in life, and have no desire to do pleasurable activities. However, there is substantial research indicating that the paradoxical approach works, so based on training and experience we are asking you to make an effort and change your behavior instead of waiting until you feel like changing – so change even if you don’t feel like it, change your behavior anyway. We will be giving you the tools and techniques for doing this. Give yourself credit for the days you accomplish each activity, and be open to sharing your status with the RSR group in the comments section. If you are already working out at a gym for 2 hours each day or playing baseball or other sports, give yourself credit for that on the star chart to recognize your lifestyle and then focus on the other areas.
There is a three fold benefit with doing Pleasurable Activities on your Star Chart. You look forward to it, you benefit from doing it, and you benefit afterwards in recalling the event.
Each week for RSR (Rapid Symptom Reduction) you will write down your ideas on the handout Star Chart for what you want to do the next week. Use the RSR star chart to structure your life. If this is your first RSR session and you find yourself resisting homework thinking “this is too much like school” or wanting to put responsibility on someone else to fix you, then you will want to do the homework entitled “15 Reasons for not doing Self-help homework”.
Select what it is you want to do, and write it down on your star chart. If you read about “Sorting Life’s Problem’s” during RSR, then you will use that topic to customize your homework by writing in “Complete RSR homework on sorting my worries” on your chart. You don’t need to turn in your required star chart tracking your accomplishments, however the decision whether to share the self help individual homework with a therapist or peer is a personal decision.
Example: If your RSR reading focused on Pleasurable Activities, you would consider using the ideas you gleaned from reading about the topic or comments to be SPECIFIC as to what fun things you are going to do this next week, and you would write down two or three new things to incorporate into your life.
If it is your first week at RSR you would consider writing on your star chart “Read the list of 300 Pleasurable Things To Do”, and then read through the list until you find things to add to your chart for the week. If your RSR reading session focused on faulty thinking, then that is what you would focus on for your homework for the upcoming week and you would write “spend ½ hour doing cognitive restructuring” ”identifying distortions”, “reframing,” or “do cost-benefit analysis” or “thought stopping” for your star chart.
This is a process. You didn’t become depressed or anxious overnight, most of us have a lifetime of telling ourselves negative self-depreciating things, and it takes some time to turn that around, but it can definitely be done. One of the ways we focus on DOING it is by doing a Star Chart. This is how we take action. This online class is action oriented, so take the ideas and make a list of activities to try to accomplish during the next week. If this class is for you then you are motivated to act to change your life and moods, otherwise you need other excellent resources. But RSR will give you powerful internal coping skills that will take you the farthest.
Once you have your list of goals for one week written out on your Star Chart, hang it up on the fridge so you can check off your progress throughout the week. Initially some people beginning RSR try to remember what they did at the end of the week. That is difficult to do, and RSR veterans would suggest you be proactive and make your goals during RSR and check them off each day thereafter, instead of trying to remember at the end of the week what you did last Monday or Tuesday. Feel free to be as creative with your Star Chart as you have time to be. You may use stickers, coloring pens, computer graphics, whatever motivates you personally. Most importantly, be specific about your agreement with yourself, decide when you will do the activities, and then monitor your progress on your star chart. This class is action oriented, so you’ll want to act on the topics discussed during your reading. The amount of benefit you get from RSR (Rapid Symptom Reduction for depression and anxiety) will reflect how many action items you are able to do over time.