The Non-Zero Day Movement

Reddit has several subreddits of interest to people fighting depression, including r/depression (Depression), r/getting_over_it (Overcoming Depression Together), r/eood (Exercise Out Of Depression), r/getdisciplined (Get Disciplined) and r/NonZeroDay (No More Zero Days).

Lately I’ve been checking in with r/NonZeroDay frequently. A small movement has grown up around the slogans “Non-Zero Day” and “No More Zero Days”. I encourage anyone coping with depression to browse the subreddit and see if this philosophy might work for you.

The movement began with a long comment by redditor ryans01 posted to r/getdisciplined in 2013, in response to an anguished post by someone going through rough times. Ryan S. offered some basic guidelines for anyone dealing with that “ever circling vortex of self doubt, frustration, and loathing” (a pretty good short description of depression).

Rule numero uno – There are no more zero days. What’s a zero day? A zero day is when you don’t do a single fucking thing towards whatever dream or goal or want or whatever that you got going on. No more zeros. I’m not saying you gotta bust an essay out everyday, that’s not the point. The point I’m trying to make is that you have to make yourself, promise yourself, that the new SYSTEM you live in is a NON-ZERO system.

Please go read the whole thing. It really is brilliant.

This comment went viral and soon spawned its own subreddit centered around the “four rules” of the “No More Zero Days” philosophy.

1. No More Zero Days
Promise yourself that you will do one thing every day that takes you one step closer to your goal(s)

2. Be Grateful To The Three “You”s
Past Self: Thank your past self for the favours they did for you
Present Self: Do your future self a favour – they deserve it!
Future Self: Your absolute best friend, and a great person.

3. Forgive Yourself
It’s okay to fuck up. Forgive your past self, and be a better friend for your future self.

4. Exercise and Books
Get your heart rate up and try to read when you can. Also the easiest way to avoid a Zero Day!

Here’s a nice infographic of the four rules. Sincere thanks to whoever created this.

There’s a lot of great advice here for anyone struggling with depression. The emphasis on cultivating positive habits and committing to daily practice of those habits, even just a little bit, is a great place to start changing your life.

Depression makes it difficult to maintain both a positive outlook for the future and motivation in the present. When we think about positive long-term goals, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lose hope. And when we have productive days and accomplish something positive, depression pushes us to downplay that success. The “Non-Zero Day” philosophy aims to keep our minds focused on positive action and motivation today, manageable steps forward in the here and now, while keeping a hopeful outlook for the future.

Developing the habit of self-forgiveness is also great advice. Depression dredges up gloomy, painful memories and encourages us to ruminate on our supposed failings. Breaking out of this rumination trap is crucial for fighting depression. Forgiving your past self with compassion, choosing to focus on positive steps in the present, choosing to do favors for your future self — these are powerful tools for breaking the rumination trap. Try to make self-forgiveness an automatic habit when negative memories pop up.

Exercise, exercise, exercise. Any good depression-fighting program has to include regular, vigorous exercise. It lays the groundwork for all the other positive habits.

Make today a Non-Zero Day.

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