Depression, like any other condition or sickness, is not predictable in the sense that you can’t control when and where episodes of anxiety or other related symptoms will occur. Often times, people with depression are forced to face situations from which they cannot escape and having a job doesn’t always allow them the freedom to take a few days or even weeks off until they feel better.
To help you deal with depression at work, the following 6 tips provide practical and effective guidelines that can easily be applied to any situation.
1. Workplace services and insurance
Most workplaces offer protection against discrimination towards chronic conditions such as depression. This allows you to take a day off when necessary without fear of losing your job.
Workplaces often have employee assistance programmes in place that include mental health services, while your health insurance care provider should offer similar programmes – ask your human resources department about the possibilities of mental health support.
2. Take it day by day
Step by step and day by day is a good philosophy to deal with depression at work. Allow yourself extra time to prepare assignments and ensure that you break big tasks into smaller pieces.
Set clear and realistic goals, create lists and draw up priorities to get the job done in an organized and predictable manner that will help ease last-minute stress and crisis situations. Ask colleagues to check your work when possible, especially if you’ve completed a job while feeling depressed.
3. Tell your boss
Depending on the relationship you have with your boss, it might make things easier for you if your boss is aware of the challenges you are facing. Your boss and colleagues might perceive your condition as laziness, being detached or not caring about the work, while you were probably just having a bad day.
4. Look after yourself physically
Take a walk over lunchtime and pack a healthy lunch with foods containing omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and nuts. Omega-3 fatty acids assist in better brain function and memory while processed foods and sugars could lead to a major decline in energy levels. Breathe slowly and take a bathroom break to calm down if you are feeling overwhelmed.
Take breaks often and get a drink of water to stay hydrated as this will also assist in boosting energy levels and assisting concentration.
5. Don’t withdraw completely and find a support base
A state of depression increasingly pushes you to isolate yourself from those around you. When colleagues at work are not informed of your situation, they could misunderstand your actions and criticize you instead of supporting you.
Although you don’t have to reveal your condition to everyone, it may help to have one or two friends who can help you get through events such as office parties, meetings or lunch hours when people tend to socialize.
6. Anticipate job triggers
Identifying job triggers ahead of time such as potential tight deadlines, large-scale projects and possible conflict situations with your boss or fellow colleagues could help you prepare in advance to deal with these possible scenarios. If a large project is looming, get an early start and schedule enough time to meet the set deadlines.
Personalize your workspace to turn it into a comfort zone for you at work, a place where you can relax when anxiety, fear or depression set in. This could include adding photos of things that comfort you, loved ones who support you and role models who inspire you.
About the author
Marcus regularly blogs at psysci, a psychology, science blog that examines the latest research and explains how findings can impact and improve people’s lives.