Depression doesn’t respect our work hours, and it can be tough to get through a day when we’re feeling low, stressed, and anxious, sounds fun doesn’t it? Feeling funky at work could show up in ways like; low energy, finding it hard to connect with your colleagues, and or not wanting to talk to talent. Are you finding yourself zoning out when you need to be focusing, or you’re watching the hour to call it a day or just calling into work and go back to bed, we all have felt these emotions? Some can work through it, but most of us tend to want to hide it, in fear of being labeled “not being productive.”
Lacking the motivation, struggling to find joy at work is something we need to talk about and not just hand an employee a link to resources. Depression can creep into our work life at times we may not even notice. If we’re coping with depression reception, we’re managing it at work, too. We can’t just flip a switch and leave our personal issues at the door when we go to work. Depression doesn’t have a limit, but I believe from discovering myself, there are plenty of ways to start feeling better and how you can cope and heal from this debilitating behavior.
As most companies move to a “cloud HQ” or distributed workforce, we need to be more in touch about depression and understand that it’s one of the most prevalent problems globally. Yes, I can suggest medication, but I am not a trained doctor and can’t really suggest actual medication, I’ll leave that to the professionals. I do, however, have a few small steps that you can consider to make your day-to-day life a little easier and know we are a community of a mixed bag of jelly beans that are here to listen, be a friend, be a place of making you feel safe to share the struggles we all experience.
Look, we all have off days where they feel tired, irritable, sad and you know what, it’s ok, you are human and we need to start embracing the whole self and not just put our emotions that may make others uncomfortable. I believe part of being a leader of people, there should be training on how to help, listen and make better decisions for the better of our employees. With the pandemic we have faced challenges, especially working remotely, and not having the space to collaborate in person. For most, it’s challenging and to have a space to share emotions is so important.
I have been reading and taking courses on the difference between sadness and depression. I have lost a lot of friends and family over the last two years and even more over my lifetime. Not always, understanding the feelings, we are having, but not being afraid to share or express these emotions. I believe when we feel safe and encouraged to be ok with not being ok, will build trust and foster a strong culture with our work families.
Sometimes, we may even know how to identify depression; it could be moving to a new place, or missed out on a job promotion, or even turning older, trust me there are many stressful and upsetting events that may get you down. There IS a difference between sadness and depression: sadness usually, not always passes within a little time, while experiencing depression is more of a mood disorder that can appear without any specific cause and last for two weeks or in most cases longer. Feeling funky impacts, in almost every part of our beings, interfering with how we think, feel, and how it can be debilitating, to even function in our daily activities. I have gathered some, but not all symptoms of depression:
- Feeling “empty”
- Lack of energy
- Not interested in eating
- Feelings of lost
- Loss of interest activities
- Suicidal depression
What causes our depression? There isn’t one answer or solution? I read this study,
“Signs and Symptoms of Mild, Moderate, and Severe Depression” which has helped me understand that depression exists on such a scale from mild to severe, but even in mild cases we, as an industry, should be taken seriously. We have to redefine our definition of depression and not simply use the terms like “in a bad mood” or telling someone to just “snap out of,” even though it makes sense because no one wants to see anyone suffering, but luckily it is very treatable.
Ok, enough with my thoughts, so how can you get yourself out of a funk? As you work through your depression, be receptive to trying new approaches, and understand that it would take a mix of those self-care practices before you notice a change in your mood. This may sound odd, but I have changed a lot of ways on how I eat. One is to stop eating after 8 pm, and not eating until 9 am. What we eat can have a significant impact on the way our body and mind process.
While we are feeling low, we might want to reach for unhealthy snacks packed with sugar or fat, some call it emotional eating and it’s hard to pick a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. These changes can improve our energy levels and keep us nourished. My worse action, especially during work hours, tends to skip meals – not great, I know. I did, however, make changes and started eating meals at regular times to help me maintain a routine throughout the day, which has helped with my mindset and energy. Additionally, and one that is really hard for me, especially when in a social setting, you should limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol we drink, which can negatively impact your mood and increase your yucky feelings. One of the best things I did start this year, I bought a FitBit Versa 3 – Which helps me set goals and allows me to join virtual races. I have walked over 982 miles, and over 8 medals. I am a huge advocate for creating fun physical activities. Further research shows that just doing 15-30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can significantly decrease symptoms of stress and depression. When we exercise helps to break down the stress and tend to create ways of releasing feel-good endorphins, too. However, no need to think that you need to get your heart pumping, any kind of movement can be effective against our depression. I have my family up and moving at least thirty minutes of movement each day to help our family depression – the pandemic has created some positive results.
Get out, and soak up our beautiful sun. It’s a natural form of vitamin D! This is a free, self-care action that is easily overlooked, because we are so focused on our work, and all we want to do is find that unicorn because it has been ingrained in our work ethics – “the early bird gets the worm.” We, always put off the things that can actually make you better at your job, a healthy mind, healthy body, actually gets the worm. Establishing quality sleep, which is very hard for me, since my mind races especially when it is quiet. This is a major focus of mind. Our sleep is something that can quickly influence every other part of our life, especially if we’re having a hard time sleeping. Our depression and quality of sleep go hand in hand. Lack of sleep may cause and/or contribute to depression can cause sleep problems, ultimately damaging our abilities and function daily.
Socialization! I know, you’re asking yourself, Kay, when I am depressed, I don’t feel like socializing. I know, I feel the same way! However, if you are experiencing mild depression or a “funk,” you could find yourself drawing away from others, avoiding social gatherings, or not wanting to bring your colleagues down. My recommendation, maybe be hard to accept, but I have discovered, by surrounding yourself with people you trust, support, and can truly listen (not solve the issues.) This can truly add some sunshine to your darkness.
I have made efforts to schedule times to visit with family and friends or grab lunch with my family, to help us all out. You may be surprising, but by sharing your feelings, you could be possibly helping those around you who could be suffering as well. I struggle but getting better at being kind to yourself/myself. This is by far the main reason I am writing this article and it’s important that you get it, that we have difficult times, but we need to start being kind to ourselves. Remember that it’s not your fault if you're feeling depressed. Be your own ally and show yourself plenty of compassion/love/grace as you work through challenging times at work.
Lastly, and really important to share, that seeking professional help, there are all kinds of help and only you will know what works with you. I am happy to help you pick what is best, but we have such a wealth of resources, that can be overwhelming too. Look, we all experience different levels of depression and should be always taken seriously, and the faster you can acknowledge these symptoms. By, accepting we have struggles, you’ll be able to make the necessary changes to improve your mindset and find peace. Seeking therapy is also a sign of bravery and self-respect you are putting yourself and your needs first! I also want to worry, if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, tell someone you trust and seek assistance immediately. We are a community of hearts and great listeners.
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