Hey y’all! Can you believe this is already post four of five in the Thriving with Depression in your Twenties series? I know I can’t. This has been my first series and I’ve been really enjoying connecting with so many people on a personal level. If you’re showing up a little late to the party, never fear! You can read post one, two, and three and then come on back. It’s always better to be fashionably late anyways.
Today we’re talking about how to handle depression as a young professional, something that every twenty-something with depression is going to want to read. After graduating college, like most twenty-somethings, I had no idea what to expect when it came to employment. Especially what it would be like to handle depression during a typical 9-5 job. In college, you can kind of get away with taking a break from class every now and then or calling off from your part-time job. But being a young professional can be complicated when it comes to work policies and bosses who may not always be as understanding as your undergraduate professors.
So how do we navigate professional life with depression? Something already so complicated can just become overwhelming when you add depression into the mix. Here are some practical tips you can take to help you worry less about depression affecting your professional life.
Talk to your Boss
I am guilty of not being completely upfront with people about my depression, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly throughout the series. So I am definitely guilty of not being completely real with my boss and supervisor about my depression. I work in a government position so I can take sick leave as I need it and still get paid, which is awesome, but I use that as a last resort. There are times when my depression can make me irritable, tired, and not so put together. If you can relate, it’s a good idea to give your boss a heads up so you don’t take them by surprise. However, disclosing your depression is one hundred percent entirely up to you and should only be done if you feel comfortable enough talking to your boss about it.
Write it Down, Check it Off
My job (plus a blog and graduate school) require me to be the master of multitasking. At any given time, I’m working on at least three projects. Juggling so many different projects and responsibilities can easily get overwhelming, especially when you’re struggling just to wash your hair. Keeping a to-do list helps maintain my sanity on a good day, but I would be completely lost without them during a depressive spell. The very first thing I do when I get to work is write down the tasks I want to get done for the day. I usually don’t pay too much attention to order (unless I’m writing down meetings that I have to go to). Like I mentioned in my organization post, I’m currently using both a planner and a bullet journal. I’ve found this two book system is something lazy me doesn’t like to take home with her so I’ll be readjusting in the future. But having both really keeps me organized, especially when I’m feeling depressed. One of the best feelings in the world is checking an item off of a to-do list, so the next time you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at work because of depression, write a list and stick to it. Cross off the items as you complete them and reflect back (and celebrate) your small triumph for the day. Completing a day’s worth of work when you have depression is huge!
It’s Okay to Take Breaks (Or Mental Health Days)
Taking breaks frequently at work is good for everyone, not just those who suffer from depression, but taking a short break every once and awhile can really give you time to relax and gear up for the next task you have to complete. When I’m going through a particularly bad spot, I like to take a break after I complete a task and before I start the next one (I’ve actually developed kind of a habit of doing this even when I’m not going through a rough patch). I like to free write or brain dump on my breaks. This usually involves me looking up some sort of writing prompt and writing for 15 or 20 minutes. I like doing activities that keep me moving and engaged. I find that’s more helpful when I move on to the next task, rather than just playing around on my phone or something. Also, get up and move! I absolutely hate sitting at my desk all day, especially when I’m depressed and the weather is nasty. If you can’t take as much time as I do to free write or do something else during your break, take a walk around your office or get up and do some stretches. (Because everyone loves stretches). I’m also a huge fan of mental health days. On really bad days, I know there’s no way I’m going to be able to get anything done at work, especially if I have had a busy week or weekend. So I take the day off, sleep in, enjoy my coffee, and work on blog or school work. And take lots of naps. When my depression is bad, having a day to just recharge really goes a long way to keeping me productive at work.
Personalize Your Space
Having a personalized work space is key, especially if you live in a cubicle farm. Lucky for me (although sometimes I wish I was in a cubicle farm), my office is completely open and even has some skylights. While I would prefer more privacy, a quieter space, and a window, I try not to complain too much. Adding little things to my space here and there has really made me hate my job less, which is a big deal when you have depression. My favorite place to get items for my desk is Target (obviously). I try to pick things that are bright in color because I find bright things help to make for a brighter day. The point is, surround yourself with things that make you happy at work and it can make the work day seem a little less overwhelming during a depression.
Thriving with Depression in your Twenties: Part Five
Tomorrow we’ll wrap up the Thriving with Depression in your Twenties series! I can’t believe how fast this week has gone by. I sincerely hope you all have enjoyed the series as much as I have enjoyed writing it and sharing my personal experiences. Tomorrow I will be sharing more of my personal struggles with depression plus I’ll be sharing links from some other great bloggers as well. How do you juggle depression and your job? Let me know in the comments!