Your daily life is stressful enough, but imagine coming to work only to feel worse. Depression in the workplace is not uncommon, it affects more than 300 million people around the world and according to a study, one in six cases of depression is caused by job stress.
Working with depression can feel impossible and some days it might be a struggle to make it into the office, or just to get out of bed. Depression left unchecked can impact job performance and your relationship with your coworkers, but it can also interfere with your personal life and relationships outside of work.
There are small things you can do every day inside and outside of the office to help you avoid depression. Try a few things to see what works for you and next time you're feeling stressed, put them into practice.
1. Go for a Walk
Sometimes just a stroll around the block is all you need to clear your head. Sitting in an office setting all day, listening to the clanking of your own keyboard can make you go a little stir crazy. Sitting at your desk for long periods of time can also increase your chances of health risks like heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Make the effort to stretch your legs and get some fresh air at some point during the day.
Try taking a walk on your lunch or one right when you get home to relieve some of the tension from the day. Walking releases feel-good endorphins that can combat depression and can put you in a better mood, even after the worst day at work.
2. Take Five
Have you ever been so consumed by what you're working on you don't even realize when a few hours pass by? It can be great to be busy because it helps the day go by faster—but spending hours in front of a monitor isn't good for your health. You should take five minutes every 60 to 90 minutes to stretch your legs and rest your eyes.
Set a timer on your phone, watch, or computer so every hour or so you're reminded to take five. Get a drink, go to the bathroom or just do a quick lap to stretch your legs. Taking a few minutes may seem counterproductive, but when you come back feeling refreshed, you'll actually increase your productivity.
3. Don't Eat Lunch at Your Desk
It can be so easy to just grab your lunch and sit right back down at your desk. You know you have a lot of work to do, so why not work while you eat? If you don't take at least one break during the day, your productivity level starts to dwindle. You may be at your desk, but your mind will start to wonder and you might start drifting from your work.
It's worth walking away from your desk for lunch. Try eating outside or going to a new place. You might be taking 30 minutes to an hour out of your day, but you'll get so much more back when you're back at your desk feeling refreshed and ready to go. The afternoon won't see so long and you'll be motivated to power through the rest of your day.
4. Practice Breathing Techniques
Sometimes you can't always leave your desk to take a moment and regroup. You have a deadline around the corner, or you're busy in a meeting—and those times can be the most stressful. Any easy way to combat stress in a setting that you can't get away is through breathing techniques.
By practicing breathing techniques, you can relax yourself in a high-stress situation without anyone even knowing it. This can be a great thing to do if you're in a room full of people and need to compose yourself.
There are lots of breathing techniques out there and you should try a few to find one that works for you. A simple breathing technique you can start with is deep breathing. To start, fill your lungs with air and take a deep breath in—hold this for about three seconds. Then, exhale your breath for another three seconds. Practice this a few times in a row to start feeling relaxed.
5. Leave Work at the Door
Sometimes you just have a really bad day at work, and when you get home it’s all you can think about. You stew over everything that went wrong for hours after it’s over, and then it only makes going into work the next day harder. Instead of letting the little things get to you, give yourself a break and brush them off.
When you leave work, keep it at work. Instead, go home and enjoy yourself—think about other things that make you happy. Watch your favorite show, plan your next vacation, or think about what you're doing this weekend. It’s important to not bring work frustrations home with you, there's so much more to life than that and those are the things you should focus on.
6. Find a Hobby
A great way to take the edge off from work is to focus on something else more enjoyable. A hobby can help you relax after a long day and it can be something, you're passionate about, or just something fun to do. Try different things to see what you enjoy most, a hobby shouldn't be hard or stressful so if it’s not working out, try something else.
7. Talk to Someone
If you had a bad day, don't hold it in—you're not alone. Go out for dinner or drinks with someone close to you and talk things through. Maybe they have insight you didn't think of before, or maybe you just need a chance to let your feelings out. Sometimes all you need is a good vent session, but other times you might need more than that.
Depression is serious, and sometimes it takes more than just a few changes in your daily routine. If you feel like you've tried everything, or you're just overwhelmed, don't be afraid to talk to someone. It's important that you get the help you need, so whether it's your friend, therapist, or doctor—don't be afraid to ask for help.