Depression doesn’t discriminate, and most people can’t afford to call out of work forever. In fact, although depression might encourage you to do nothing but stay at home and lie in bed for hours, the best thing you can do is continue to live your life and follow through with your responsibilities. Although you may have to make some adjustments in your schedule or workload while you treat your depression, it’s important to follow some of these suggestions so you can stay focused on the job without worsening your symptoms.
You Are Your First Priority
Our careers play a massive role in our lives and identities, but they do not define us any more than mental illness does. Depression is a wake-up call for many, and you have to listen. Rather than trying to ignore your depressed mood and feelings of dread, realize that it’s OK to prioritize your well-being. You may sign off on some bigger projects you wanted to work on but know you aren’t mentally up to handle. This doesn’t mean you can’t do your job well. You just have to focus on what you’re most capable of doing right now and avoid overworking at all costs.
As you work with a therapist or doctor to treat your depression, keep work at a steady but simple pace. Don’t push yourself to do more for fear that you’ll miss out or become a failure. Depression tells you all sorts of lies. All you need to do is show up, do your best and prioritize your health. You can’t perform well if you’re unmotivated and miserable. It’s far more beneficial in the long run to identify your current obstacles and adjust your workflow and project load accordingly. Some people do not have such a luxury. They may work high-pressure jobs or have a demanding schedule they simply can’t reduce. If so, hope isn’t lost. Acting intentionally and mindfully at work and turning your attention to self-care can help prevent depression burnout.
Self-care isn’t all about shopping, coffee or face masks. Although these things can make us feel good, the psychological approach to self-care is much more practical. Routine self-care helps you stick to healthy habits, which are fundamental in continuing to live well and stay anchored to reality when depression is at its worst. You are taking care of your present and future selves by practicing self-care. A few easy things you can try that may help include:
- Having a set bedtime and sticking to it every night, even on the weekends
- Avoiding alcohol or other mood-altering substances
- Finding healthy ways to self-medicate, such as drinking herbal tea or meditating
- Getting up from your desk during lunch and going for a walk
- Stretching or getting up to walk around for a few minutes when work is getting too stressful
- Packing healthy snacks in your bag, so you don’t stress-eat sugary, high-fat junk food
- Finding a quiet place at work you can go to for some deep breathing whenever you feel overwhelmed.
Take Care of Your Finances
Financial struggles can become a key focal point of depression. If you’re faced with medical bills, student loans, credit card debt or a low income, it can be hard to feel like the future is ever going to be any different from the present. The most important thing you can do right now is to evaluate your income and the main factors affecting your finances. If your job is a major depression trigger, consider applying to new positions ASAP.
It can feel pointless when you’re depressed, and even working up the energy to open your resume and navigate to a job board can feel impossible. But addressing the underlying causes of your financial woes is the first step toward truly fixing them. Ask yourself questions about your finances, and if you’re not satisfied with your answers, it’s time to make changes. How much money do you spend each month that you could save? Are you budgeting properly? Are there repayment plans you could set up for your debt? Think about the big picture, not just catching up for the month.
Understand that depression takes time to recover from. You won’t be able to alleviate your symptoms overnight, but you can make progress day by day. Depression, for all its misery, can also be an opportunity to address the issues that are truly wrong for us in life and start making more conscious, beneficial choices for our well-being.
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