5 Ways to Cope with Depression at Work
Depression waits for no one, and it surely is not considerate of your work week. Working with depression feels like trying a run a marathon with a hundred-pound weight on your back. At the end of the day, you are exhausted, gave it your all… but look around you to see that you have accomplished very little.
You are not alone. Check out these tips for surviving the bad days.
According to the National Institute of Mental health, Major Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. In a recent survey it was found that an estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults. Depression symptoms can be overwhelming and debilitating.
Not sure if you have depression? check out this article about symptoms.
This means that a HUGE amount of work aged people are coping with depression. So let’s talk about it.
NUMBER ONE: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
This is often easier said than done when you are working through your depressive days, but it is not impossible! Taking better care of yourself in general is an important part of combating depression. Everyone is different, so work on a routine that works best for you, and make adjustments where needed. Some of the most essential parts of caring for yourself are: Eating a well-balanced diet (Limit sugar and caffeine), getting enough sleep and not oversleeping, and exercising. Do what you can, even if you don’t make it through your whole work out routine or you slip up and eat that piece of cake at the holiday party- your effort is going to help improve your overall symptoms.
NUMBER TWO: GET ORGANIZED
When you are depressed it is easy to let everything on your to do list slip out of your fingers one at a time until you have utter chaos (on your desk and at home). If you are feeling completely overwhelmed make a small list of the tasks that you need to accomplish that day. Breaking it down into sub categories can make your day so much less stressful.
If you are anything like me, you probably struggle at focusing on one thing at a time. Whoops.
Do your best to work through the motions and at least accomplish a few small tasks on your list. Future you will thank you for your efforts. Also, it has been found that if you tackle the task that you dread the most first, you will feel better about the rest of your tasks that day and be more productive. Also, try to get to work a little early and give yourself more time to handle your tasks than usual.
NUMBER THREE: LEARN WHEN YOU ARE MOST PRODUCTIVE
Many people have patterns to their depression and anxiety. For so long I wanted to be a morning person. I thought if I worked my way through it, got up early and put in the work- I was going to accomplish SO MUCH in my life. I was wrong, simple as that. My body really likes the night time. I get the most work done when I sleep in a bit and stay up and work at night (Why I became a freelance writer).
Not everyone has this flexibility. But maybe you are really chipper in the morning and then your afternoons go straight downhill? Try to do your most difficult tasks in the morning and give yourself a lighter afternoon. Like me and dread the morning? Take it easy in the morning but mentally prepare to kick ass in the afternoon.
NUMBER FOUR: BE HONEST WITH YOUR BOSS
This is probably the most difficult for most people, with the stigma around mental illness many people struggle to hide their symptoms. Well that is not healthy and that is how symptoms begin to quickly escalate into an actual melt down. Let’s avoid that.
When I still worked at my old job, I was barely getting through the days because my depression had grown to an overwhelming point, and I even tried medication. I was calling off often and generally not really caring much about my work or performance. I was terrified to say anything for the longest time. Finally, one day I brought it up to my boss, and it was actually a really simple conversation. I just told him “I’m sorry, I haven’t said much about it but I have really bad depression, and it’s been acting up. I’m working on it, and that’s why I have been really off lately” He just told me that he understood and that his wife struggled with the same thing. End of convo, never lost my job.
It can be scary, and maybe your boss won’t understand (but if not.. they aren’t a very good boss). but if more people open up about it, eventually the world will be more understanding.
NUMBER FIVE: TAKE THE MENTAL HEALTH DAY
Some days are just not possible. I said it.
There are times where pushing yourself is just going to make things worse. If you can afford it, just take the day off and be gentle on yourself. Learn what works for you, but for many people when the bad days come, it can be better to tell yourself “Okay I’m depressed today. It will pass. I’m going to rest, and try again tomorrow.”
This can be so helpful, to just allow yourself the day to cope with your feelings, and not faking it in front of all of your peers. Not everyone will understand, and that is okay… they aren’t you and if they do not have depression, they truly have no idea what you are feeling.
If you are having more bad days than good days, seek out professional help.
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