Do you ever sit in your chair at work and wonder what the hell is going on with your life? Do you ever feel so depressed at work you just want to get up and leave and never come back? If you have ever had depression at work then this post is for you.
Depression at work or just depression?
The first thing you need to look at is whether you are depressed only when you are at work or whether you are depressed in general. The reason you need to establish this is because if you are only depressed at work there are certain things you can do to change that scenario while you are at work. However, if you workplace depression continues when you go home and long into the night then chances are you have an illness.
IMPORTANT – Depression is an illness that can be treated. Do not be afraid of depression. Seek help as soon as you feel like it is becoming a problem. It will not last for long if you start working with it.
This post is dealing only with depression at work. However, there will be some overlap.
How to avoid depression at the office
Here are steps you can take to help fix depression at the office.
1. Understand impermanence
An important step to treating workplace depression is to realize that work is impermanent. Stress is impermanent. Deadlines are impermanent. Once you understand that these things will not last forever you will feel less stressed and depressed about the future. The next time you feel depressed at work take a deep breath and say to yourself: “This feeling will not last forever…” and then get on with your work.
2. Chuck out the heavy lunches
Quite often I feel depressed after a heavy lunch where I have had lots of fat. Saturated fat in particular is really bad for your mind and makes you feel weighed down and sad. In my travels to the Himalayas I was told by some buddhist monks that you should avoid meat, eggs, garlic and other “heavy” foods when you need to think for a long time. Perhaps save those foods for dinner time.
3. Drop the coffee like a bad habit
We all drink coffee to make ourselves feel more awake and alert. However, coffee is causing a lot of people a lot of problems. It is well documented that coffee will make you anxious and depressed if you have too much of it. It causes all sorts of spikes in your body and mind and will leave you feeling pretty down. Drop it like its hot!
4. Drink green tea
Green tea is an ancient Chinese drink that has some amazing health benefits. One of those benefits is an increased sense of well-being and happiness. This might have something to do with the antioxidants or it might be something else. Whatever it is green tea has worked wonders for my happiness.
5. Understand the mind
One thing you need to understand that is more important than anything else is that all depression is in your mind. It is not caused by anything external. We might think that depression is caused by the jerk of a boss in our office but it is actually caused by our inability to deal with that jerk. Depression is in the mind. Happiness is in the mind. And we control our mind. Make sure that you start working with your mind.
One thing you can do to understand your mind better is meditate. Meditation has been used for thousands of years to help human beings reach their full potential. But I know all of my readers aren’t into the Eastern philosophy so let me just tell you that meditation has been scientifically shown to decrease depression even more than antidepressants.
photo credit: Symic
Here is a simple meditation for the next time you feel depressed. Sit up straight in your chair and close your eyes. Start breathing through your nose slowly. Try and brings the breath all the way down into your stomach. Once you have focussed yourself in this way I want you to gently look at the depression. Where is it? Where does it stay? Where does it come from? Does it have a shape? Does it have a color? Don’t judge it; just look at it. When you do this again and again you will see that the depression has no substantial reality. It does not exist. It has no power over you.
This is meditation.
7. Think about serving other people
When you get into a career there is a big temptation to start thinking about yourself and no one else. However, this is a good way to make yourself depressed. Why? Because depression comes from losing sight of what is important and feeling like you are never going to be happy. Here is an old buddhist saying:
“All the suffering in the world comes from wanting happiness for one’s self. All the happiness in the world comes from wanting happiness for others.” – Shantideva
If you are feeling depressed it is a good idea to start focussing on other people and how you can serve them with your work. It might be something small like smiling at your colleague or it might be something bigger like getting your work to sponsor some charity. Think about how you can serve others and the depression will diffuse.
8. Eat fruit throughout the day
It is a good idea to start snacking on fruit throughout the day. Fruit is full of all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that the human body and mind need to be healthy. If you can get your diet on track you are half way towards making your depression go away. Fruit is one of the best things you can add to your diet – no one is eating enough of it.
9. Get outside in the sun
If you are anything like me you will spend way too much time in the dark in front of the computer screen. This is bad news. The human body needs sun to be happy. Vitamin D comes from the sun and this helps your body produce a chemical that makes you feel joyous and happy.
To get enough sun at work makes sure you:
– Eat your lunch in the sun
– Take phone calls on a chordless phone and go outside in the sun
– Walk to work or to the bus stop
Simple little things like this should be enough to get the sun you need. Remember to be careful about UV rays though. Too much sun will give you skin cancer!
10. Drink water
People are not drinking enough water. Water needs to be an integral part of your day; especially if you are feeling depressed. It cleans out toxins and impurities and helps your organs process all the junk. Depression is always related to your diet and your body’s function so drinking water and getting your diet clean is a very important step. If your office doesn’t already have an office water cooler, it’s time to request one!
11. Smile, at random
Smiling has been scientifically shown to trigger a chemical response in the human body. What this means is that the physical action of smiling will cause you to feel happier even if you have nothing to smile about! Try smiling more often and see how it changes your mind.