How was your January? Did you cough your way through it? I did and it appears that there were many others who did too.

I was mostly housebound for ten days. After a couple of days of feeling “proper poorly” and becoming bored with daytime television, I knew that my daily routine needed to be reassessed.

Television is a useful distraction at times, but it can also lead to apathy and be a delayer of recovery.

What was needed were some daily targets and a reason to get up and dressed. It is surprising what an effort it can take to get washed and dressed, if there is no real incentive to do so. This became my four-point plan.

1. A purpose. Gentle decluttering. I spent 60-90 minutes a day completing a light decluttering task.

Most homes can benefit from decluttering drawers, cupboards and paperwork. In my case it was boxes of paperwork, acquired from clearing my father’s house four years ago.

I had some plastic storage boxes, bin liners and an audio book to listen to for distraction.

Satisfaction from a task completed each day felt good.

2. Small steps. Each declutter or other small task would last around an hour. I recovered slowly, but now, can reflect on 14 hours spent completing jobs I didn’t want to do and which would have stayed not done, if I had been well.

3. Task and treat. I would reward myself after any task that was completed. Sitting on the sofa with a magazine and a hot drink had to be earned. The same with a TV programme. Resting was important too.

4. Gentle exercise. My family gave me an exercise wristband last year. There was no hope of achieving the usual 10,000 steps a day, it was 2-3,000 most days.

My target was another figure on the band, 250 steps an hour between 9am-5pm. This encouraged me get up and move around much more than I would have done without a visible target.

These four points can be adapted for most people in a variety of circumstances. It is much better than doing little and feeling even sorrier for oneself.

 - Rita Leaman is a psychotherapist and writer who lives in North Yorkshire. As Alison R Russell, she is the author of ‘Are You Chasing Rainbows?’ She also writes a blog on emotional health: