Life Hacks For Staying Productive During Depression

Life Hacks for Staying Productive During Depression

“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone.” –Dwayne Johnson

Can you recall a time in your life when you were so crippled by depression that you weren’t able to focus on anything but your mental health? There was a time when I was so depressed and unable to do even the simplest of tasks. Sadly, this occurred right after the birth of my children, who are two years apart in age. It seemed as though everything was working against me. Some things I can distinctly remember are:

When Your Family Isn’t Equipped To Help

My mother, stepfather, and sister, lived an hour away from me. They were all pretty absorbed in their own problems. I remember feeling like a wallflower, an invisible entity when I was in their presence. My sister was a single mother at the time. She’d have my stepdad and my mom babysit for her while she pulled side jobs. She had many financial difficulties and often borrowed money from the family. They bickered about the money she owed them and complained about having to babysit so much.

I felt guilty for asking for help with money, but I did seek their advice when I was dealing with my abusive husband. They always told me to get away from him, but nothing more than hollow words to appease their own conscience. It took me years before I attained the wisdom to leave my husband.

I especially desired emotional support. I was too far away from the family members that were able to help us. The church and a domestic violence support group offered me the social support and knowledge I needed to take care of my kids on my own.

I Lacked Self-Worth

After my pregnancies, it was hard for me to lose weight. Here I was, in my early 30’s, mentally and emotionally exhausted from depression and anxiety. The constant chipping away of my soul continued for 4 years. My ex-husband took great delight in berating me when I weighed 160 lbs. He told me my stomach stuck out more than my chest, and he could get anybody he wanted, but nobody would want me ever!

I Lacked Mobility

When you are poor, it’s hard to keep up a car. There’s the car payment, the insurance, the car repairs, and of course, e-check. In Ohio, if you have an older car, you can forget about passing the e-check. In fact, I had to get a waiver because I paid money to correct the deficiencies, but it still failed. Luckily, the county I currently live in doesn’t require e-check! But the car I lease now would pass the emissions test.

When you have young kids, many people run the other way when they see you’re in need. After trying to unsuccessfully find a place to stay, I wanted to see if the kids and I could be part of the transitional housing for the homeless. There were several churches that participated in this project. The only catch was you had to move your family each week to another church “host”. I didn’t think that was a great idea for my family, given the fact we had been through so much already. Eventually, we were approved for an income-based apartment. Many people endearingly refer to these homes as the “projects.” It was the best option for us at the time, despite the fact that there was a lot of shady activities going on in the complex.

How did I ever manage to be productive when all this was going on in my life? Nothing fell into place quickly, unfortunately. It took years, but those difficult years helped me become disciplined, even when I was depressed.

Some things that worked to my benefit during my most difficult times?

Ask For A Flexible Schedule

My employer (NACS) was aware of my situation, to some extent, and allowed me to come into work after my son got on the bus in the morning, and after I took my daughter to the childcare center.

Have A Routine At Home

My kids and I followed a regular routine of when we ate dinner, played, and slept. Going to sleep on time, at the same time each day, helps your body maintain a regular rhythm.

Enjoy Low-Key Activities

When you feel the surge of anxiety or depression, it’s hard to be around large groups of people (especially, confident and happy people). While it’s not good to isolate yourself from people, many times they unwittingly cause more hurt than good. We used to go to the park when very few people were there. I took my kids to the “Book Mobile” to get videos, books, and puppets. The Book Mobile is essentially the local library contained on a bus that comes to your establishment (nursing homes, the “projects”, etc.).

Some other “low-key” ideas to get you out of the house, without throwing you into chaos when you are least likely to enjoy it, would include:

  • Walking around a quiet lake
  • Going to the movies during matinee
  • Stopping for some ice-cream
  • Fishing, boating, camping
  • Visiting a nature center

Write Lists

My ex-husband used to scoff at the fact that I was so mentally burned-out that I needed to write everything down. If I didn’t write down even the most minute task, my brain was too foggy to recall key information. Amid depression, domestic violence, unexpected “guests” showing up to “party” with my ex, and the weekly visits from the police, my mind wasn’t focused on the future. Instead, I was stuck in mere survival mode.

My family could not have moved beyond those ashes of despair, that bleak kind of existence, if it wasn’t for writing down to-do lists, tasks, resources, and even Bible verses on index cards.

Get Up And Dressed

It’s important to give your appearance some hope the better days that lie ahead. When you take a shower and get dressed, it’s easier to be ready for whatever is going on in the day. There may be an expected opportunity waiting for you- an unexpected job offer, an unexpected friend may call and want to have lunch. Taking the time to get ready is refreshing to your body and your well-being!

Spiritual Healing for Depression

Disconnect And Depression

The solitude and a spiritual connection are the most important steps to understanding and conquering depression. Some of the circumstances can’t be changed, but a renewal in our minds is necessary to overcome depression.

Have You Ever Wanted To Cry But Don’t Know Why?

Every weekend I welcome the notion of not having to attend to work. Although work can be very satisfying, it often brings about many stressful elements. Some jobs, such as industrial or manufacturing environments are intrinsically more susceptible to stressors; high production quotas, working in extreme heat, and louder noise levels, are typical in many factories and warehouses. Tension among employees and low morale create negative feelings. Many workers return home not feeling fulfilled, but rather, overwhelmed or undervalued.

It is during the weekend that I have time to reflect on the occurrences of the previous week. When I find myself feeling depressed, or worse, I feel like crying but I’m unsure where my feelings of depression are rooted, I can’t help but consider the obvious causes. Five out of seven of my days are spent in a flurry of activity, errands and other demands. My busyness may have been masking my depression. Working and having an active life is not necessarily unhealthy. It is unhealthy to use aspects of a busy lifestyle (i.e, being consumed by your workload, using shopping and errands) to distract or soothe our emotions. The effects of busyness and distraction can be similar to how an addict uses drugs to escape from reality or negative emotions.

Isolation

When we feel unsupported at our jobs, we may turn to our family and friends for guidance and encouragement. However, we may not always have a strong network of social support (see The 7 Elements of Wellness). In some instances, our social mobility may be affected by our familial or marital status- that is, if you are divorced or a single parent, you are more likely to experience feelings of isolation. Those living with fewer social ties are 2 to 3 times more likely to become depressed. Having a strong support system of healthy relationships can insulate individuals from feeling overwhelmed when faced with challenging circumstances.

As a divorced or single person, you may feel the world seems to favor couples. After experiencing the break up in the family, you may no longer have access to extended family members. Your family and even your children may blame you for the breakdown in relationships. This is more likely to occur when they are feeling the effects of social isolation, or they may see the world as favoring families that aren’t divorced or headed by a single parent. It is very important to instill a sense of self-worth in your children so that they may be equipped to recognize the reality of divorce- there will be fewer resources, but nevertheless, such realities are conquered by many people each day. By conveying the idea that a strong family is comprised of quality relationships, children can be better equipped to overcome feelings of isolation, in school and at home.

It is especially complicated to meet the emotional needs of your children when your own feelings of isolation are profound. I have accepted the fact that we will be excluded from the benefits of an undisrupted family- in fact, I consider the value of not having to attend to stressful relationships. It is best to spend quality time with my children, and not dwell on what has been lost (although acknowledging grief and loss are healthy elements of healing).

In my quest to understand my feelings of disconnect and depression, my efforts are applied to searching for the emotional aspects of depression; while I realize the many components that contribute to depression, I must give greater attention to those things that which affect me the greatest. For individuals who suffer from bipolar or other mood disorders, emotions play a significant role in one’s well being.

Spiritual Disconnect?

Our social ties are a significant aspect of our overall well being, but what is more important is our spiritual connection. By spending time alone, or engaged in religious or worship activities, we can become more attuned and connected to our purpose in the world.

One of the first things I realize when I have solitude is that I have not renewed my mind. In fact, my process towards renewal may have begun yesterday, when I have had a strong desire to clear out unused things in our home. By being engaged with this process of “clearing out” the, I was letting go of the ideas and concepts attached to these things. Initially, I was displeased that I was, once again, purging things to soothe my anxiety. Solitude has given me the gift of insight to see that I am on the path to renewal- a push many of us subconsciously resist.

The emotional overload we experience in life can cause confusion and agitation. Agitation means the state of anxiety, but it also means “stirring” or “disrupting” something. You may need to be more attentive to your spiritual connection and free yourself from worldly distractions. Excessive worries and fears can hinder our relationship with not only others but also our relationship with God. Our Enemy wants us to live in fear and to be too distracted to pray and give thanks.

When I understand that I am being oppressed by fear and worry, I recall James 4:7, which states “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”– New International Version (NIV).

Unresolved Grief

The loss of a spouse due to divorce isn’t the same as how someone feels when they’ve lost a spouse due to death. Divorce is often sought because of a betrayal, perhaps physical or spiritual, as often is the case when adultery is involved. Sometimes divorce is the result of emotional betrayal or abandonment in favor of alcohol or drugs. The reckless disregard that accompanies adultery, abandonment, or abuse, leaves a profound impression upon the soul. It is difficult to move on if these feelings are suppressed. The marital relationship was created to promote spirituality, health, and happiness. When we lack this sort of relationship, it is easy to fall prey to feelings of low self-worth.

To overcome grief and depression, it is important to ensure the following:

  • Eat vitamin-rich, unprocessed foods when possible. Drink water to cleanse toxins in your body.
  • Enjoy solitude so that you are better equipped to enjoy time with your family.
  • Spend time in nature! Not only does sunshine provide vitamin D that can improve our mood, but being in nature will help you reconnect spiritually.
  • Acknowledge negative feelings through the appropriate outlets. If you don’t have a trusted friend, spend time in prayer. You can also release negative feelings through art, writing, and music as well.

References:

  1. https://www.wakeupcloud.com/overcome-spiritual-depression/
  2. https://www.christianhelpfordepression.org/depression-is-it-a-spirit/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIoP3K28TV3AIVGI3ICh0nJAlKEAMYASAAEgKii_D_BwE
  3. http://www.theworldcounts.com/life/potentials/social-connections-and-happiness

Simple Ways to Balance Work and Life

Work/Life Balance

“Live To Work, Work To Live” was once a popular credo associated with high-achievers, while others referred to the phrase in a tongue-in-cheek manner to express negative feelings towards work and life. We now realize that in order to maximize our potential in the workplace and in our personal lives, we must find our own “work-life” balance. However, “work-life” balance is still a misunderstood concept.

The notion of a work-life balance isn’t a simple formula, but it can be simplified by stating that it is a balance of positive and negative aspects of an individual’s life. Personal, professional and family life- a harmonious balance in all aspects of our existence, can help us achieve a healthy “work-life” balance.

Make Time For Your Social Life

In your quest for economic and vocational satisfaction, making time for family and friends is an important part combatting feelings of loneliness and actually, promote resiliency. Social support enhances the quality of life and provides a buffer against adverse life events. (https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/social-support).

Set Goals

Making the most of the time we have for work and life is dependent on the types of goals we set. If we fail to set goals or impose superficial or vague goals, it is much more difficult to find purpose in our work. A goal such as, “make more money” is too broad, thus, it will be much harder to maintain mental and emotional stamina to accomplish a goal that offers no method to focus our energies. A better alternative to a broad goal is to set a smaller goal, which provides smaller steps, smaller action plans on our part, to manifest a more meaningful and realistic goal.
(https://www.wanderlustworker.com/setting-s-m-a-r-t-e-r-goals-7-steps-to-achieving-any-goal/).

Determine and Reduce Distractions

The “garden” of your life requires much pruning- it is essential to be mindful of the things that are consuming your time and energy that may not be necessary at that moment.

Technology and Smartphones, although a necessity in the workplace, can hinder our attention. It is better to know what time of the day you are most productive and when to maximize getting work done at that time. Avoid checking emails every time you get a notification. Instead, set aside specific chunks of time to read and reply to messages.

Noise is another common distraction in the workplace. White noise, such as the humming of a fan, can help mask other noises that may cause you to become distracted. You can find many white noise apps that enable you to block distracting conversations and noises in the workplace. You can also avoid such distractions by simply wearing noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.

Many workers don’t have the option to shut a door to block interruptions. Body language is an important tool to signal to others you have little time for talk. Be mindful to discern what is relevant information and what is idle chatter. When you feel the conversation falls into the latter category, kindly tell your co-worker that you have to attend to a very important task and don’t have much time for talking right now.
(https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/distractions.htm).

Good Health Improves Productivity, Morale

Getting enough rest, exercise and good nutrition will help you have more energy at work. When employees have more energy, production increases and accidents decrease. Morale and engagement also appear to be higher when workers are healthier. Less absenteeism also assures that coworkers aren’t burdened by picking up extra slack from a sick colleague, which may inadvertently affect company morale and productivity.
(https://www.gohealthhero.com/blog/10-benefits-of-healthy-employees/).

Take Time To Nurture Your Dreams

This is something many busy people take for granted. Unfortunately, when you fail to feed your dreams, you have less to give in all other aspects of your life. When we simply forge ahead, neglecting our dreams, we lose the ability to infuse joy into our work and relationships. Sometimes “life” happens and we lose focus, or our ambitions become less-important. When we don’t have much time to pursue our dreams, we need to find ways to allocate even a small amount of time to dream regularly. This can be achieved by taking on hobbies or side projects that utilize our talents and abilities. When we realize our happiness is the sum total of our work and lives, we may start to find more ways to obtain a better work/life balance.

 

Simple Ways to Survive a Negative Workplace

When you are feeling no longer feel motivated or you simply feel burned-out, it is best to find the root cause of your feelings before making any major life changes. A common mistake is attributing the sum total of your negative feelings on one broad problem, such as a bad job, or having no money. While both of these things do not elicit feelings of joy or contentment, resilient people are able to deal with such challenges with a hearty attitude.

If being in a bad job, or being broke, is not the root cause- or there are layers of an underlying cause, it may be more difficult to overcome negative feelings simply by getting a different job or working more hours to bring in more money. In fact, if your current job is not recognizing your efforts, why would you want to work more hours to bring in more money- only to continue a never-ending cycle of “live to work, work to live!”

Your Job Isn’t So Bad That You Can’t Overcome Some Obstacles.

You may be unable to change some aspects of your job, but maybe you can change one important component to your experience each day- and remind yourself that life doesn’t cease to exist when you punch the clock, you may be better equipped to recognize what is in your control and what is beyond your control.

Ways To Ease The Challenges of A Negative Environment

  • Read about the type of people that inspire you, instead of only taking in the negative people that surround you.
  • Make a note of it. Keep a notebook handy to write down what is making you angry or sad. It’s not convenient to do this when your manager is breathing down your neck about quotas, but take a moment to write it down the minute you are alone. Talk to a trusted friend to help process your emotions. If you have nobody that understands or shows empathy towards your problem, you need to find your “tribe.” In the meantime, writing it down may help you process your emotions.
  • Determine what it is about the problem. Hopefully, you have discovered at least one root cause of the problem. Sometimes you can get a sense of control or power by determining the problem(s). Taking action to improve elements of the problem are the next logical step.

What You Can Control About The Negative Environment

Some jobs naturally place people in stressful or negative environments. You may explore your personality (www.gladeo.org) discover if you are suited for a particular line of work. It may be you may don’t thrive in a conservative, office job if you are meant to be designing or building something. You can cope better at your job if you have other hobbies or projects that satisfy your need for intrinsic motivation.

When I took the personality test, I learned that I was a “creator”. Jobs for creative types include graphic design, editing, advertising, and writing. Consequently, I don’t use any these skills at my current job, but I have, on occasion, contributed to small projects that satisfy these skills at my company. I created a company newsletter and contributed with some of my peers to engage and motivate employees, via a “safety committee”. I was initially not interested in a health and safety committee because I didn’t realize the creative force within the activity. I was able to work in a team (not unlike how advertising executives work in teams) and I was able to write content and format a newsletter. Employers and managers appreciate the time and effort I invested to boost morale and engage employees in the company culture and values.

The Purpose of Keeping Notes Is To Help You Become (More) Self-Aware.

Being aware of yourself helps you get a grip on the things you can control!. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, it is helpful to know where you’re going and where you have been. For instance, if my co-worker catches an error, I may not necessarily be distraught over the error so much as the way in which he/she made me feel stupid. My issue would be “respect” and I would be able to handle the disciplinary action of my error. It may be that when you feel bombarded with negative feelings, you don’t know where to focus your anger.

Venting talking to a trusted friend should help peel away the many layers behind the anger. A good friend may be able to help you gain insight, other times, many of us aren’t so lucky. Being an introvert and a writer, I find that writing about my anger and sadness is a natural way to process the situation. Some people prefer to play sports with a group to shed some of the stress, while others work on puzzles or building something.

If your work doesn’t suit your personality, you must find other ways in which you can explore your talents. If you already have a job that allows you to use your talents, and you are not being recognized, perhaps you can ask to take on a small project that will allow you to shine (or at least give you some extra money for your hobbies). Check out Mantelligence for great money-making hobbies!

If you aren’t afforded the opportunity to have a job suited for your personality and there is zero potential to use any of your talents, it’s not time to change yourself, it is time to move on in your career or company.