Using your values to live the life you want and boost your mood

The usefulness of values

Values refers to the things that are important to you. They determine how you spend your time, what you commit to, and how you want to live your life. Our values can therefore guide our activities.

Looking at your values is useful for anyone, as they can really benefit from taking the time to look into what they spend their time doing, and seeing if it fits with who they want to be as a person. In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), we use this approach with anyone with any type of difficulty.

More specifically, values work is also so important when working with people with depression, which is a specialist area of mine. When people feel depressed, they usually do not want to engage in many activities like normal. However, choosing activities that fit with their values can often be the key to doing more. This in turn, boosts their mood and minimises depression.

Research into using values

In 2019, I helped to supervise a research project at the University of Reading, looking at a new protocol called Brief Behavioural Activation (Brief BA) based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to support adolescents with depression. We went into schools and delivered the protocol to see if it was effective (and it was!). Within nine therapy sessions per person, we were able to help a large portion of those young people to recover from low mood and depression.

The Brief BA protocol is based on the idea of doing more of what matters to you to boost your mood. The trick is to choose activities that fit with your values. For example, if you value spending time with your friends, then you should ensure that this activity is included in your week. The adolescent can then plan their week, with their therapist’s help, to ensure that they are doing a nice mix of activities. 

This approach is based on a similar idea used with adults with depression and low mood as well. I therefore use this approach with both the adolescents and the adults that I work with. 

How you can use values

Looking at your values can be so helpful, whether you need to boost your mood or just live a more fulfilling life.

If you’re interested in thinking more about values, have a look at the worksheet below from Psychology Tools. You can use this to think about your values in each of the different life areas, the importance it holds for you, and the success you have had with it recently. You ideally want to be most successful with the most important values you have. If you’re finding a mismatch, consider what activities you could be doing to boost the success of meeting that value. 

If this is something you’d like more help with on a one to one basis, get in touch and we can arrange some therapy sessions to support you. If you want to know more about our one to one sessions, have a read about them here.

Contact us below for further support with this via one to one sessions: 

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