Depression is a mood disorder which is characterised by a persistently low mood and loss of interest in performing activities. Having depression interferes with daily life and normal functioning. According to the World Health Organization, 36.9% of Indian adults have suffered from a mild to moderately-severe depression in their lifetime and another 1.8% have experienced a severe manifestation of the illness. Working adults, in particular, are seen to have high rates of depression and there are many studies that show a relationship between high levels of stress and presence of depression.
Having depression can compromise the quality of your work. When you are depressed, being assigned even the smallest task may make you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. There are, however, some small things you could incorporate into your daily life that can help you be more productive while continuing to manage your depression.
Having a Routine
Creating a daily routine helps to take the thought out of what you have to do. It gives you a structured day, and helps you to avoid being forced to make choices, something that’s difficult to do when you are depressed.
Schedule out your tasks and set yourself achievable deadlines. Working within a flexible schedule helps to keep oneself on track. On days when your mood is elevated, you may be able to complete additional work to compensate for the days you don’t feel as good.
Breaking up Assignments
Break up your assignments or responsibilities into smaller tasks which requires less effort. These smaller tasks will be easier to complete and achieve. Additionally, the sense of accomplishment as you finish each task helps to keep you motivated when you move on to the next one.
Adjust Your Expectations for Your Performance
It is important to set out realistic goals for yourself that you believe you can accomplish. Try to do this on a daily basis based on how you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly unmotivated, remember that it is okay and that completing even the smallest of tasks can still count as being productive.
On days when you feel a lack of motivation, you could try to provide yourself with an incentive for completing a task. These incentives can be anything that makes you feel better and will help provide you the motivation to complete the next task.
It often helps to take breaks in between tasks. Taking periodic time-outs help to decrease the level of the stress hormone, cortisol and increases the amount of other chemicals such as dopamine that help us to feel good. Breaks help us become more productive. Allowing yourself to mentally disengage from your work related thoughts for a brief period may help bring in a fresher perspective once you return to the task at hand. Additionally, it may be a good idea to use the break to stretch and walk around. Changes in surroundings can also provide a distraction from worrying about your lack of productivity, and in fact, may provide you the motivation you were lacking earlier on.
Rearrange Your Surroundings
Moving furniture and stationery around will make your workspace look new and interesting and this may further rejuvenate your mood.
Make a list of the things that make you feel better or things that you usually enjoy. Then, try to find ways to bring a few of these things into your daily routine. When you are feeling especially down, treat yourself: indulge in eating your favourite food, or watching your favourite movie.
Inform your family and friends about your mental health issues and let them support you through some of your more difficult days. Opening up to one or two more people who you trust may help make you feel less isolated. Try creating a support group at work who can give you support, should you need it.
Incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, chemicals which interact with your brain to create a feeling of euphoria or happiness. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression
When you feel especially depressed or stressed out, it can help to practise some breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques. They have shown to help relieve depression and are most effective when they are integrated into your daily routine.
Take Things One Step At a Time
Finally, the most important tip is to take things one at a time. Focus on the present and immediate tasks first, and once you complete them, then move on to tasks that have later deadlines. Focussing on the present will give you a sense of urgency which acts as an external motivator and hence will help you.
Disclaimer: Please remember that these are only suggestions and may not work for everyone. Some of the tips are especially for people with high functioning anxiety and depression who may thrive on organization and structure. If none of these suggestions work for you, please seek support from a mental health professional.
As we inch closer towards an individualistic society, without adequate support systems in place, mental health concerns like depression are seen to be increasing at a fast pace.
In the year 2015, 322 million people were said to have suffered from Depression.