Wednesday 27 November 2019

Coping with depression at work

Not everyone who suffers from depression shows the obvious symptoms that we're familiar with, such as sadness, fatigue and being withdrawn. High-functioning depression is more common than we realise.

What is high-functioning depression?

When someone is suffering internally, but to the rest of the world it appears as though they're fine, this is classed as high-functioning depression. The person suffering might still socialise with friends, turn up to work every day and appear to be living a happy and ‘normal’ life, but on the inside and behind closed doors, they're suffering great pain.

Take time out and put yourself first

If you suffer from high-functioning depression and dread the thought of going to work and facing people each day, there are several ways to help you cope.

Most days will feel like an uphill struggle but there will be certain times when everything becomes too much to deal with. Give yourself some breathing space, literally. Even if it’s just for five minutes, escape to another room, or outside if possible, take some deep breaths and try to quieten your mind. Your mental and physical wellbeing should always take priority – work can wait five minutes!

Share your feelings

Whether it’s your boss, a work colleague or someone in HR, try to talk to someone at work about your depression and how you're feeling. Not only will it help ease the burden a little, if they're understanding, they'll give you some leeway for the times when you really need it. They might even let you work from home if you really can’t face the work environment. You might find that people are a lot more understanding than you expect.

Practise self-care

Remember to practise self-care both at home and in work. Although on some days it might feel like the most difficult task, if you persist, in the long run you will benefit. Try to get enough sleep by sticking to a bedtime routine, exercise when you can, and eat a healthy diet. Drink plenty of water and take a walk outside or even take up yoga or mindful meditation. These are all things you can incorporate into your working day - perhaps in your break times - and they don't have to take long.

Prioritise and delegate

A busy work schedule will undoubtedly add to your stress levels and make your depression even more difficult to deal with. Prioritise your jobs for the day or week and learn to delegate work wherever possible.

Remember, you are only human, and you can only achieve so much.

The World Health Organization produced an information sheet on 'Mental health in the workplace' earlier this year. It identifies work-related risk factors for health and offers steps that businesses can take to create a healthy workplace environment.

For more information on promoting and enhancing mental wellbeing in the workplace, please visit our website for organisations and businesses

Wednesday 13 November 2019

How to maintain your identity at work

Spending too much time trying to please your boss and work colleagues and being in a constant state of fear that you’re not good enough, can have detrimental effects, not only on your wellbeing but also your self-identity.

Earlier this year, Rice University undertook a study, “Be yourself at work — it’s healthier and more productive”, which examines identity in the workplace.

By changing our mindset and taking a few simple steps, we can learn to maintain our identity and keep our mental health in check.

Recognise your behaviour

Initially, we might not even realise that our behaviour at work is different to how we act in our personal lives. Over time, however, you’ll start to notice that your mood changes and you lack confidence and feel like you can’t be yourself in certain situations.

Begin by listing your positive qualities and try to recognise what is missing from your personality when you’re at work. Perhaps you hold back with speaking your thoughts, you feel uncomfortable in your work clothes, or it might be that your sense of humour is missing.

There are many reasons why we might lose our identity at work, whether it’s because we’re afraid people won’t like us or that we could lose our job if we don’t fit in. If we continually strive to please others, it’s easy to lose our self-worth.

If we go for long periods of time when we feel we can’t be ourselves, we can become introverted, fearful and depressed. But the good news is, there are ways we can regain our identity.

Dress comfortably

There are many workplaces where we must dress a certain way to suit the ethos of the business and sometimes that can make you feel like you aren’t presenting the real you. However, there are ways of introducing certain aspects of clothing that help you retain your personality. Even if it’s the socks that you wear or the colour of your shirt/dress, these small changes can you make you feel more comfortable and more confident in yourself.

Dealing with negative feedback

There may be times when we receive negative feedback from our boss which knocks our confidence, but it’s important to recognise how the feedback is presented. When we’re criticised for our work, it can sometimes feel like a personal attack rather than constructive criticism.

Does your boss speak differently or behave differently towards you or are they the same with other employees? If it’s the latter, then it isn’t just you and this could reflect more on their personality than yours so try not to take the criticism personally.

However, if you feel as though it is only directed towards yourself in a negative manner, speak with your boss and ask how you can make improvements with your work. This can also give you the opportunity to discuss the way they speak to you without it appearing like you’re challenging them. Don’t let any harsh words knock your self-esteem as this can lead to self-doubt, lack of confidence and, ultimately, losing your identity.

Spend more time with people you can be yourself with

Particularly when we start a new job, we try so hard to fit in, we forget to be our natural, authentic selves. There are usually one or two people that we may gravitate towards because we feel more comfortable around them. By spending more time with these people, we’ll gain more confidence to be ourselves and show the true sides of our personality.

Make sure you also spend time with your closest friends and family outside of the workplace, as they will remind you of your positive qualities and will help you maintain your identity.