According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 20 million adults in the United States have experienced at least one major depressive episode.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, and people throughout the world struggle to manage the symptoms and side effects. A few of these side effects, such as low motivation, difficulty concentrating, and poor time management, can begin to negatively affect your work productivity.
On days when even the thought of getting out of bed is a struggle, going into work may seem nearly impossible, especially at that moment. In this blog, we’ve put together a list of tips specifically for managing depression side effects during the work week.
1. Create a Routine
Having a daily routine can help you stay on track with tasks and responsibilities. It can give you a sense of accomplishment, structure, and control over your day. Establish a schedule that includes working hours, meal times, breaks, and self-care activities such as exercise or meditation. Go over your routine the night before so you’re ready the next day and aren’t scrambling the next morning.
2. Set Small Goals
On the hard mornings, no goal is too small. Focus your mind, and push the blankets off. Move your body so that both feet are on the floor and you’re in a sitting position. Stand up, take a deep breath, and treat every step you take to get ready as mini accomplishments.
Small goals can also be beneficial once you’ve arrived at work. Breaking down your tasks into smaller, more manageable goals can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and boost your motivation. Start with simple tasks and gradually work your way up to bigger projects. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they are, to boost your motivation and confidence.
3. Prioritize Your Tasks
Depression can make it easy to feel overwhelmed by your workload. Prioritize your tasks and work on the most important tasks first. Write down everything you need to do and then divide the tasks into two columns, urgent and non-urgent. Focus on the urgent tasks and tackle them one at a time, giving each of them your full attention, before moving on to the non-urgent tasks.
4. Take Little Breaks Frequently
Mental exhaustion can make it hard to focus and be productive. Give your brain time to rest and recharge. Take frequent breaks throughout the day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Go outside and get some fresh air, take a walk around the office or do some stretches at your desk. Avoid starting a non-work related activity or task so your mind doesn’t become distracted.
Instead, focus the little breaks on your breathing or relaxing your body from a tense sitting position. These little breaks will help you to feel more refreshed and get back to work with a clear mind.
5. Be Open with Your Manager or Supervisor
If you feel comfortable sharing with your employer, let them know what you’re dealing with. It can be hard to talk about mental health conditions, but by being honest, you open up the opportunity for your employer to accommodate you better.
This might mean adjusting your workload, providing you with flexible working hours, or even referring you to an employee assistance program (EAP) if your organization has one. The EAP often offers free counseling sessions and other resources to support mental health.
6. Use a Timer
It can be hard to sit down and focus on work during depressive episodes. Using a timer can help you break down your work into manageable chunks, making it easier to focus and remain productive. Start with small intervals and gradually increase the time as you start to feel more comfortable.
7. Talk to Yourself in a Positive Way
The way you speak to yourself has a significant impact on your mood and behavior. When dealing with depression at work, try using positive self-talk to motivate and encourage yourself. Avoid negative self-talk, which can make you feel worse, unproductive, and unmotivated.
8. Contact a Mental Health Professional
Mental health struggles can be isolating, but you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it. Mental health professionals can help you develop a depression management plan that works specifically for you. They are trained to understand the complexities of depression and can offer strategies to cope with symptoms.
Depression can be difficult to navigate at work, but it’s not impossible to manage. Most people can’t afford to take time off work, even when they’re feeling low. Effective management can make a significant difference in the productivity of your workday.
At Cornerstone, our mental health professionals have helped people achieve a better quality of life. Depression can be debilitating, and we understand the impact it can have on daily life. Our therapists and counselors will work with you to identify strategies that work for your unique needs. While we hope the above tips will help you navigate depression in your working environment, we also want you to know that we’re here for you, too.
Reach out to us. We can help.