Depression and anxiety are a daily struggle, invisible to everyone else. Many people who don’t suffer from the disease do not realize how hard it can be to accomplish daily tasks. Professional treatment is a valuable resource that can help you learn to cope and heal. Even with treatment and care, these diseases can still flare up, just like any other disease, especially in a stressful environment like work. We’d like to share some tips for dealing with depression and anxiety while balancing a full-time job.
1. Have a Work Uniform
Mood and self-esteem are closely linked. When you are happy, your self-esteem is higher. But low self-esteem can cause your mood to plummet. Judith Rasband calls this the “Image Cycle,” and most of us have probably felt the effects. But what happens when your depression or anxiety take over, preventing you from even caring about your appearance? This is where a Work Uniform comes in. Take a day and pick out your favorite work-appropriate outfit. The pants that fit all your curves, a favorite blouse, your most sparkly necklace. On those days when just getting out of bed is a challenge, use your Work Uniform as a go-to. It’s easy, and it should help boost your mood too!
2. Treat Yourself to a Good Breakfast
We know you’ve heard it before – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The Huffington Post gives a great list of physical health reasons to eat a healthy breakfast, but there are mental health reasons as well. A delicious, well-rounded breakfast can help you feel productive and accomplished, giving you a better start to the day, but don’t be afraid to indulge every once in a while! If you’re having a bad day, treat yourself to something yummy – personally, we love a delicious pastry from the neighborhood bakery. Indulge in a breakfast you love – and don’t feel guilty!
3. Turn on Music
Another tried-and-true mood boost? Music! Healthline talks about it in this interesting article, but turning on upbeat music is something most of us already do when we’re in a bad mood. Make playlists that correspond to your different anxieties – if you have a co-worker who likes to make snide comments, make a playlist with lyrics that remind you not to listen to her – “Shake It Off,” by Taylor Swift is a classic. For some self-affirmation, try “Roar,” by Katy Perry. For a general mood boost, check out this list of upbeat songs.
4. Sit Up Right
At work, always make sure you’re sitting with great posture. Poor posture brings along a long line of health issues – it can affect your skeletal system, your bathroom habits, and your neck and shoulder muscles. But it’s also scientifically proven to affect your mood. Many studies, including this one, have shown that slumping can put your mood in a slump too, while sitting up straight can make you feel powerful and confident.
5. Go For a Walk
Even if its just around your office parking lot, getting out in the sun can be very therapeutic. This study shows that a even a short, five-minute walk a day can boost your mood and self-esteem! Sunlight is shown to boost serotonin levels, a chemical in your brain that makes you happy – the site “How Stuff Works” has a great article explaining the science behind it. Exercise releases the same “feel good chemicals,” making your trip outdoors twice as effective! Want to make that walk even more valuable? Grab your headphones and listen to a favorite song or two!
6. Follow Your Nose
Scientific American tells us that scents can affect your mood and work performance. This is because scent is very closely tied to memory, so a smell with positive associations will make you happier! There are a variety of ways to bring yummy smells into your office or cubicle – candles, air fresheners, diffusers, and more! Bath & Body Works has literally hundreds of scents to pick from – everything from Peppermint to Vanilla Pumpkin Marshmallow!
7. Declutter & Decorate
Staring at the blank walls of a cubicle can make anyone frown. And clutter on your desk will only promote that cluttered feeling in your mind that anxiety can bring. Add some personal touches to your office space with mementos or brightly colored organizers. Choose things that make you happy, inspire you, or remind you of good times! Print out a quote that keeps you motivated, pin up pictures of your favorite people, or bring in a little souvenir from a trip that you can keep on your desk. You can also get strategic with your decorations, picking colors that positively affect your mood. Many sources, including The Huffington Post, say that blue can calm you down, yellow can make you happy, and green helps relax you.
Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions. – Pablo Picasso
8. Be Nice to Your Body
We’ve already talked about a few ways to physically make yourself better that also have a positive effect on your mood. But there are many things you can do from your desk to soothe your body and your mind. Give yourself a break from the screen: close your eyes and take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Massage your achy shoulders or stretch your neck. Use five minutes to listen to your body, instead of your anxious mind.
9. Be Nice to Someone Else
Putting a smile on someone else’s face is a good way to put a smile on yours too. Something as simple as complimenting a coworker’s shoes can really brighten their day. If you work in a more isolated environment, take thirty seconds and text someone that you love them or miss them! As this Harvard study shows, “Happiness loves company!”
10. Let Yourself Feel What You Feel
In a society that puts such a high priority on happiness, sometimes feeling bad can make you feel bad, which can turn into a vicious cycle. If you’re having a particularly bad day, acknowledge it. Don’t pretend to be happy and end up making yourself even sadder. Talk it out, listen to sad music, eat an entire box of chocolate. If you need to, go to the bathroom and cry. If you really need to, and your job allows it, take a sick day (just don’t make this a habit!). But then you have to look at your goals, look at all the reasons you have to accomplish them, go to work, and get stuff done. You can do it. We promise. And if you need help, we’re here.
“Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” – C.S. Lewis