Dealing with depression at work

Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 in Personal Development | 12 comments

I’ve suffered from depression most of my life. I was fortunate to get help and still my depression persisted off and on (mostly on) for years. It wasn’t until I started really living the positive and healthy habits I write about in this blog that the depression has been kept at bay.

My depression affected my personal life and, of course, my work. Many days just getting out of bed seemed an unbearable task, let alone getting dressed and getting to work on time. Depression affected every aspect of my work and life. In some cases, work was even a secondary cause of my depression.

I’m not alone in my experience with depression in the workplace. Studies show 19% of Americans will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. The cost of depression in the workplace is estimated at $83 billion per year in the United States alone.

You are not alone.

Struggling to manage depression for many years I slowly learned healthy habits and positive coping mechanisms that helped me deal with my depression and ultimately get better. While no single positive habit removed my depression, practicing these tips regularly improved my situation until I recovered from depression and helped me be a productive and more positive employee.

How to deal with depression at work

10 life hacksPhoto credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Take care of your health

Depression affects your physical health in addition to your mental and emotional health. When you’re suffering from depression it’s more important than ever to take good care of your health.

At minimum, get between 7-8 hours of sleep every night (it helps to go to bed and wake up at the same time!), drink plenty of water, eat regular healthy meals, and exercise.

Take breaks at work

Depression can completely overwhelm your work and your life. Taking breaks can help you break up the day into more manageable chunks.

Set a reminder in your Outlook calender to remind you to take your breaks. Leave your desk for your break and do something that rejuvenates you, like listening to music, doing a few stretches, deep breathing, taking a walk, calling a friend, or working on a puzzle.

Reach out

If you have a good support network, this is the time to reach out. When you’re feeling depressed you may feel isolated, or have a tendency to self-isolate but this is the worst possible time to be alone.

It can help to have a trusted friend at work to confide in, or just socialize with. If that’s not possible, call or email a good friend outside of work. Make plans to meet a friend for lunch, or dinner after work- use your support network regularly, not just when you’re in crisis.

If you don’t feel like reaching out, do it anyway. Do it because you don’t want to keep feeling this way. Do it so you can get better.

Focus on the task in front of you

When suffering from depression the lines between the past, present, and future can seem to blur, making your situation feel even more hopeless. Sadness from the past and anxieties about future events overshadow what you’re doing today.

Try focusing on one task at a time, giving your full attention to what’s in front of you. If you find your mind wander to other things, gently guide your thoughts back to what you’re doing.

Help someone out

It feels good to help others, and it’s a great way to remind yourself you have wonderful gifts and talents to share with others.

You might chair a work committee designed to improve your work environment, or consider organizing a volunteer day with your co-workers. Being of service to others gives meaning to a life plagued with depression.

Be kind

Be kind to yourself. Not only do you deserve kindness, when you’re depressed you really need it.

Put your worries in their place

Try writing down your worries and putting them in a safe place to deal with later. Some people have a “god box” or “worry jar” where they write down their problems and practice letting go. You don’t have to carry all your worries around with you all day long.

Challenge negative thoughts and feelings

When you’re experiencing negative thoughts and feelings it may be helpful to challenge them with questions such as, “where’s the evidence?”, “what am I really afraid of?” or, “am I assuming the worst?”.

Put negative thoughts and feelings in perspective

Don’t believe everything you think. Try observing your thoughts without attaching to them. Imagine your thoughts are like words in a book- read them and then turn the page.

Don’t believe everything you feel. Just because you feel hopeless doesn’t mean your situation IS hopeless. Feelings are just feelings and they’re always temporary.

Keep it positive

When you’re depressed your mind fills with negative thoughts- try adding some positive thoughts to the mix. This includes positive self-talk, practicing gratitude, and repeating self-affirming statements.

It’s okay if you don’t feel positive in the moment- this is the power of acting “as if”. The more positive statements you make, the more those positive thoughts will positively affect you.

Love yourself

You may not feel self-love right now but this is another example of acting as if. The more you treat yourself with compassion and love, the more self-love you’ll feel. It may take weeks or months to notice the difference, but you will notice a difference.

Get help

You can’t deal with depression on your own. Seek help from a counselor or therapist, or give group therapy a try. Your employer may even have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that offers between 3-5 free counseling sessions to deal with life’s ups and downs.

Don’t give up

Don’t give up on yourself. You deserve a chance to live a happy, healthy life.

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I love your comments! Have you ever suffered from depression? What helped you get through the workday?

12 Comments

  1. Thank you for posting this. My partner is suffering from depression which is manifesting mainly at work and this type of practical advice is just what is needed :) xx

    • Thanks for your encouraging comment, Mandy!

      I’m very pleased to hear these tips are helpful to others- dealing with depression at home or work can be so overwhelming even the simplest tasks are challenging. I’ve always been a fan of practical advice and tips that I can implement even in moments of chaos and overwhelming emotion.

      Good progress, health, and healing to you and your partner! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  2. Hi Chrysta,

    First of all, thank you for sharing this positive message. I am glad that you have come out of the blue and are now living life without depression.

    Putting negative thoughts and feelings in perspective is a great way to create our own blessings. What we focus on, we get more of it. When we feel grateful and blessed, we will feel happy.

    Me too believe that we do have the choice to take positive steps toward health. For example, do we choose to do exercise? Do we choose to laugh or smile. We can do those simple acts even if there is no apparent reasons for doing so.

    I appreciate you, Chrysta.

    Viola Tam – The Business Mum (Sydney)

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Viola!

      I have absolutely found I create more of what I focus on- either positive or negative. I get to choose which I cultivate in my life. What a wonderful option to have!

      I love the empowering questions you suggested- Do we choose to laugh and smile? This, too, is within our responsibility. :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  3. Hi Chrysta, Great to meet you here. I actually wrote a book on kindle about Overcoming Depression God’s Way. Your points are very, very good. I find that people really need practical points like these. I believe that our diet is huge for helping us overcome depression. I find when I am eating not so well, I tend to feel lousy. Thanks for a great post and so good to meet you. blessings, Amy

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Amy!

      I’m the queen of practical solutions- I collect them! I like to have a toolbox of simple tips I can use to improve my life and I use them every day.

      I, too, have found eating well helps me feel better emotionally. I really notice a difference if I’m not drinking enough water.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and thank you for visiting my blog! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  4. I would have never in a million years guessed that you’ve lived with depression Chrysta. What you write about here is always so helpful and seeing your smiling face across the web I would have always thought you were just one darn happy person. I know you’ve had your share of “stuff” like most of us do but I’m sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with this most of your life.

    Besides yourself now, I only know three other people who battle with depression. Two are very close to me and the other person I met online last year. One of my close friends is clinically depressed and boy does he still have a lot of bad days even though the medication helps a lot.

    I know it’s never my place to give advice on handling something I’ve never known that much about which is why I stay away from that subject. One of the other ones thought that I’m very close to does his best to stay positive and talks about his issues. Only with the people closest to him unfortunately and he won’t reach out and get help. I know that it would help him tremendously to speak to a professional about this.

    Your tips though are comforting to know that although you’re never really cured from depression, these things can help some. I appreciate you being honest and sharing this with us Chrysta

    Enjoy your week young lady. I’m sure you definitely will.

    ~Adrienne

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Adrienne!

      I often feel my capacity for great joy comes from the same place as my capacity for great sadness. I am fortunate to be a more joyful person at this time in my life than I was most of my life before.

      Depression is very challenging and even with positive action it cannot always be cured, though I do believe there is help for anyone suffering from depression.

      Because I’m no longer depressed I hadn’t given much thought to writing about it and then it popped into my head and I realized there are other people suffering from depression right now and a post about it may be able to provide some small comfort. That’s how it worked for me- I found small relief from depression from many different sources and combined with getting professional help eventually turned it around for me!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Adrienne! I’m sending comforting and loving thoughts to your friends dealing with depression today.

      Enjoy the week!

      Chrysta

  5. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Although, I have not personally had depression, many of the things you mention are important for good physical and mental health anyway.

    Monday through Friday I sit for 10 hours a day — 2hours commuting and 8 hours at work! I haven’t yet made it a habit to get up and move about every hour. Thanks for the tip about setting a reminder! Ha. I didn’t even think about that one! (I’m setting my reminder right now!)

    I need to also work on sleep – I only get about 6 hours a day, which isn’t good!!

    Thanks again for this post. It really serves as a reminder of the simple daily things we can do!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Jennifer!

      You’re absolutely right, the tips I’ve shared here are really just tips for good mental, emotional, and physical health and that’s exactly how I turned my life around- by taking care of me! I write a lot about self-care and I do so because it’s so important for a successful, happy, and healthy life.

      Like you, I need the reminders to take breaks- even though I know how important it is to get up from my desk throughout the day. Without the reminder I just get so wrapped up in what I’m doing I often don’t even think about stopping to refresh myself by taking a break and moving around a bit. I’m glad I introduced you to this new habit and I hope it helps!

      As far as getting more sleep- in the past I have also set an alarm on my phone to start wrapping up my evening and getting ready for bed about an hour before my goal bedtime. This helped my body get used to a certain bedtime that mean getting enough sleep. I no longer need the alarm because my internal clock tells me when it’s time for bed!

      So glad you stopped by today! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  6. Hi Chrysta,

    coming here from Adrienne’s blog. I are humans so depression is something we have all experienced. The way I deal with it is by listening to something positive. Mindful about what IS and not letting mi mind to go unattended. The mind chatter can do a lot of damage by nagging all day (and night) long.

    I listen to Eckhart Tolle, Esther Hicks or Adyashanti. Many more good stuff out there. Must be careful about what we put in out minds. This is the same importance, even more, when we are careful with our diet and nutrition. I think that depression is a choice. Thank you!!!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Margarita!

      While I don’t feel it is a choice to become depressed, I do believe we can each make a choice to take positive steps toward health! It isn’t always easy to take these steps when suffering from major depression- even the smallest task can seem daunting- but in time it does get easier as we make progress.

      I love your suggestion to be mindful and listen to something positive. These are both wonderful ideas that I like to practice even when I’m feeling good as they serve to reaffirm my mental, emotional, and physical health. Diet and nutrition are essential, too. What we put into our bodies affects the way we feel. I’ve noticed I feel so much healthier when I stay hydrated and drink lots of water. The healthier I feel, the more happy and balanced I feel, too.

      Thanks for your wonderful suggestions! I’m so glad you stopped by from Adrienne’s blog. Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

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