How to Be Productive When Depressed?
At the very beginning I want to mention this and make it very clear that when it comes to mental health issues or generally feeling sad or depressed, there should not be a “one size fits all” answer.
Each and every one of us experiences and deals with emotions and mental health issues very differently and your way of dealing is as valid and right as mine. However, running away from emotions or the situation, or entirely giving up should not be the option.
Dealing with depression is difficult but being productive while feeling depressed can be a whole different struggle. There will be times when you would want to lock yourself inside a closet and not get access to light and there will be days when you will want to bounce back.
I firmly believe taking a day off and shutting yourself down once in a while is justified but this should not become a routine.
Here are a few things I do to keep myself on track while dealing with my unstable mental health and I hope these will help you in some way or another as well.
Have a Control Over Your Thoughts
This has to be the first point. You are not going to get better until you choose to control your thoughts. It is difficult, yes. I am not going to sugarcoat it for you. But it is equally, if not more, important. The more negative you will think, the more you will allow yourself to overthink about something, the more depressed you will feel.
Do not shut yourself down. You are allowed to think but try to divert after some time. Don’t get stuck on the same thought. Do not imagine scenarios.
Allow your mind to get positive. Take a few deep breaths, ask the universe to give you a positive sign, practice positive affirmations, or meditate. Do whatever makes you positive or at least try your hand best.
Practice Pomodoro Technique
When you know you are supposed to work no matter what happens it is better to do it as soon as possible rather than delaying it for when you will feel better. Pomodoro technique is something I swear by when it comes to working while feeling depressed. I am not really a fan of pomodoro when it comes to normal days because I like working continuously for hours so that my concentration doesn’t get affected but on days when I am feeling low breaks come handy. So I work for 25 to 30 minutes and then take a break for 10 minutes. In these 10 minutes I either try to do breathing exercises or think about happy and positive moments I have had in the recent past. Either way, I avoid using social media or my phone even in the breaks.
I believe you can do this too. It may not be your forte but giving something a try is not going to cost you anything, I hope. You can use social media in your breaks if you like, but do not let it take a toll on you.
Do Something That Intrigues You
You can always choose to prioritise working on a subject that intrigues you. I really hope your work is something you generally like doing and not just a source of income. Working on something that you like or that keeps you curious can be really helpful in these times.
I get it, working in the same field for years may kill the curiosity. So, you can choose to explore something general that intrigues you, outside your work. Like, how about reading something positive or listening to happy music while you are working, or trying some random online quizzes like “am I beautiful”, “which career suits my personality”, “what are my strengths”. Try to participate in quizzes that will uplift your mood and not pull you down.
Have a Self Care Meal
We all have a happy meal or self care meal that we pamper us with. Yes, I get it you may not feel like eating at all when you are depressed but think about that one meal that you just absolutely love to have on slow days. Hot chocolate, soup, avocado toast, dark chocolate, smoothie, or chicken sandwich, there are a lot of things that can help you feel better. Choose food that will uplift your mood without making you feel sleepy or drain down your energy.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
Lastly, it is important to acknowledge your emotions. Hiding your emotions for yourself or running away from how you feel isn’t going to do you any good. Rather, it can make your situation even worse. Running away from your emotions may seem reasonable right now, you may feel over emotional and shutting down may make you feel like you are getting over it but your emotions are still there, the pain is there no matter how many layers of smile you put on your face to hide it. Acknowledge what you are feeling. Let yourself open up a little. You don’t have to talk to anyone. If you can, it’s good but if you can’t that’s absolutely fine as well. Talk to yourself. Tell yourself how you are feeling and what is the reason behind it. If there is something that can be done or if being patient is the right approach to deal with the situation.