How to Stay Productive When Facing Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety affects 23.4 percent of American women, while depression hits one in eight women in their lifetimes; both occur in women at twice the rates of men, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety and depression can slow you down equally — many people also have trouble functioning in their daily lives, especially at work, because of these illnesses. “Anxiety and depression can both affect cognitive abilities," says Dr. Adrienne Meier, a clinical psychologist practicing in Los Angeles and New York City. Dr. Meier compares anxiety and depression to large apps in a smartphone that tend to slow down the phone's overall speed and function. “We can think of anxiety and depression as apps that are taking up a lot of memory and space in our brain. This bogs down the whole system and results in us processing information more slowly, having difficulty concentrating, and being less productive overall," Meier says.
If you're one of those people who occasionally have difficulty checking off your routine tasks, there are solutions, psychologists say. It's also key to check in with yourself throughout the day, as well as friends and loved ones who can help you through. Consider these psychologist-approved pointers for making it through the work day while keeping your mental health in check.
1. Give yourself an incentive for what you can accomplish. When you're depressed, and even anxious, the tiniest tasks, even brushing your teeth or showering, can become a huge chore, says Dr. Lindsay Trent, the Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer of the mental wellness app Basis. “Create a structure that rewards your behavior, no matter how small of a task you accomplish," Dr. Trent says. Start with doing something simple, like the dishes, because you can see the outcome: the sparkling clean pots and pans. “Something like this promotes a sense of mastery and can have a huge impact on your mood," Dr. Trent adds.
2. Be present with your thoughts. It's easy to allow your mind to spiral backward or forward in time when you're struggling with mental health. Mindfulness is key to bringing yourself out of this cycle, according to Dr. Meier. “When you notice your thoughts wandering to the past or the future, gently remind yourself to return to the present to prevent any past-tripping, which is common in depression, or future-tripping, which is common in anxiety," Dr. Meier says.
3. Use progressive muscle relaxation at a set time every day. “Practicing progressive muscle relaxation, tensing and then releasing each muscle group, can be helpful for chronic tension and stress," Dr. Trent says. It's most beneficial if you pick a specific time to use progressive relaxation each day to combat general anxiety. Ideally, it would be best to focus on relaxation during the day, in the waking hours, rather than just when you're going to sleep, she adds.
4. Incorporate deep breathing and calming music into your routine. Different tactics may work for different people in pacifying anxiety and depression, but utilizing deep breathing techniques on a regular basis can be one trick to calming your body and mind, Dr. Meier says. For other people, music may be more healing. “If your workplace allows it, listening to music or relaxing nature sounds can detract the focus from the negative thoughts or anxiety and allow you to be more present in the moment," Dr. Meier explains.
5. Have an accountability buddy at work. Dr. Trent recommends checking in with a trusted coworker or even a supervisor at work, whom you can talk to when you're feeling down and need help getting motivated. You can let the person know exactly what you need when this does happen, but a great initiative is going out for a walk, Dr. Trent says. “Exercise always helps improve mental health symptoms, and getting a change of scenery can be a helpful reset in the middle of the day," Dr. Meier agrees.
6. Set a designated “worry time" for yourself. If you struggle specifically with anxiety, pencil a period of time in your schedule, about 30 to 45 minutes, to address all of your worries and do some problem solving, Dr. Trent suggests. Jot down the things that are making you anxious in a journal or log, likely at the end of the day, a few hours before bed, because your worries will probably build up as the days go on, she explains. The goal is to run out of things to worry about by the end of the exercise. “Most people, by the time they get through the whole list, are able to feel more relaxed," says Dr. Trent.
(Photo via Getty)
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Getting the word out about your brand takes time, drive, and ingenuity. And it doesn't come easy for many entrepreneurs. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're chatting with Selfmade alum Taylor Morgan McPherson, founder of Sustainable Sparkle Bar, about ways in which she scored press as a solo startup brand and what she learned from Selfmade to take her brand marketing up a notch.
B + C: How did you know Sustainable Sparkle Bar was your business to start?
Glitter has always been my thing, so when I started my event company I decided to make it my niche. I started telling people I threw glitter-themed parties where people would get sparkled with glitter body art and makeup. Six months after that I applied to my first festival and to work with SUR restaurant in West Hollywood.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
I honestly can't say that I've had a specific strategy that I've followed when it comes to getting my business off the ground. I have a PR background so I was just constantly pitching new business and posting on social media.
B + C: What's the biggest challenge you face as a small business owner?
I would say creating a stable income and revenue stream. With a seasonal, event-based business it can be very up and down.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
The relationships I made and the push to start an email database.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I love what I do and I believe in myself 100%. Staying motivated isn't the hard part. Pushing myself to do the work and staying accountable is the hard part.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip? Do you use any apps that help you manage your business?
I keep multiple to-do lists, hand-written and digital. I also tell clients and partners that I will have something to them by a certain time or day so I have to stick to it.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Just do it, take the leap. And don't worry about what anyone else says to thinks.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Issa Rae, I'm so inspired by everything that she's created being a creative and a black woman. It's my dream to have my own show one day based on my life and where I give advice and talk about the world. She's doing it and making people laugh and giving people joy. And it's based in LA. Watching Insecure only further cemented my dreams of wanting to live in LA.
B + C: How did you hear about the Office Depot scholarship?
One of my friends that I met through Camp No Counselors saw an IG ad for it and nominated me.
B + C: What has receiving the scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start/grow your business?
It's completely helped me level up and take my business to another level. Selfmade helped me host my first virtual event and taught me how to set up my website to sell tickets to events and get RSVPs.
B + C: How have Office Depot services or products helped you accomplish more in your business?
I got new cards to send in all of my orders with my discount code on them. I also bought a really cool 4K camera that I now use for my social media.
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