Depression is often an invisible condition, and dealing with it in the workplace can be challenging. While many people who cope with depression may appear high functioning (particularly in high-pressure work environments), they may be experiencing extreme distress that makes doing their jobs increasingly difficult.
Here are our top six tips for coping with depression in the workplace.
Consider attempting one or more items on this list to see how it can positively affect your overall mental well-being.
Take the appropriate breaks during the day
While all full-time Ontario employees are entitled to a number of breaks during an eight-hour workday, there are many people who feel pressure to work through the day as a sign of their work ethic and dedication. The perceived benefits of working through lunch might be heightened by concerns about getting fired or being perceived poorly by bosses or peers. But for those experiencing symptoms of depression, ignoring breaks can negatively impact overall mood and the ability to cope. Try making a habit of taking your lunch break at the same time every day. Bring a lunch you enjoy, and read your favourite books or magazines while you eat. Ensuring you eat balanced and regular meals can also make a big difference.
Access treatment through your benefits
Many people are unaware that the health benefits employers provide often include mental health services and therapy. Coming to terms with the idea of needing treatment can be difficult, which is why so many people will go far too long without investigating their workplace insurance policy for therapy. Most of the time, an employer is not informed about what sort of health benefits an employee is using, with insurance companies acting as a satellite outside of the workplace to ensure privacy. Look into what coverage you receive and consider taking advantage of it. Seeking proper treatment could benefit your work life and personal life considerably.
Cultivate personal happiness routines
Try to do a series of little things that make you happy throughout the day. Do you enjoy listening to music? Then try curating creative playlists at home that you can listen to throughout the workday. You could also try surrounding yourself with reminders of what makes you happy: Decorate your workspace with pictures of loved ones, pets or artwork that sparks your imagination. Plants and flowers are an excellent addition to any desk. Try to get creative with your decorating choices and express yourself. Conversing regularly with colleagues whose company is uplifting can also promote the connectedness and support that can make work a happier place.
Consider discussing your state with your boss or HR
This is a pretty scary idea to some of us, but depression has the ability to be unpredictable and it can occasionally make our actions a little unpredictable too. If you have a supportive boss or HR person and are able to speak to them confidentiality, try communicating about your condition. Explain to them how it makes you feel and why you might require the occasional afternoon off or day to work from home. If you’re proactive about your needs, a good manager will try to accommodate you to ensure you’re performing your best.
Be easier on yourself
This is one of the most important items on this list. Striving to be perfect or to meet unrealistically high standards all the time can make us constantly feel as though we’re not good enough. Try to set reasonable goals and to give yourself credit where it’s due. Remind yourself that part of doing a good job at work is ensuring your long-term ability to work. If you’re constantly too hard on yourself, you’re putting yourself at risk for burnout. Taking things a little slower can mean you’re working toward sustainable, longer-term well-being. If you’re a high-performing self-starter, communicate with your management so that there is mutual agreement on the appropriate pace of work.
Talk to a professional
Depression is not something you should be dealing with on your own, but rather a condition that requires the involvement of a professional healthcare worker. Therapy is the most important choice you can make to help you cope with depression. At The Clinic on Dupont, our multi-disciplinary team of registered psychologists, social workers, psychotherapists, and addiction specialists provides individualized psychological assessment and treatment to children, adolescents, adults, and couples. Call us today if you or a loved one could benefit from support in coping with depression.