Life is stressful. For everyone. But when your mental health suffers, it feels like life is harder for you than for others. There are days where even getting out of bed is difficult. And where handling daily stressors feels impossible.
For many of us whose mental health suffers, we’ve found tricks for getting us through our days. Ways to help us cope. To help us feel less stressed. So here are mine. In hopes they will alleviate some of the stress from your day too.
- Schedule each day. It’s easy for anyone to get overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done in a day. And if you suffer from anxiety or depression, it can feel impossible. I find it helps to prioritize my time. So every morning, or sometimes the day before, I plan my day by writing down what I need to do and when I’ll do it. I plan when I’ll work, eat, take breaks, workout, etc. to ensure everything gets done.
- Set alarms or timers. Part of my anxiety always stems from what’s next or if I’ll have time to do everything that needs to get done. Forcing me into the future and out of the present. I’ve found a simple way to remedy this is to set an alarm or a timer. And a pleasant-sounding one at that. That way, I can put time out of my mind until it goes off. Only then do I look at the next thing on my schedule.
- Only check email at certain times of the day. I used to check my email first thing in the morning. Or worse, at night. Doing so left me in a constant state of anxiety. Because I was never shutting off the needs of others. Now, I check my email midday and at the end of the day. That way, I can address issues as needed without letting it take over my thoughts. And I never check my email after my workday is over. Especially not on the weekends. As one of my wisest professors once said, prime time (and the weekend) is my time.
- Set boundaries. Trying to meet the needs of others while working can be difficult. And if you have anxiety, it’s easy to let the needs of others overwhelm you. Place demands on you. And slow you down. I try to be mindful of what is expected of me, and part of that is not letting others pressure me into making a decision. Even if it’s about something simple. As soon as I start to get overwhelmed, confused, dizzy by their requests, I know it’s time to stop engaging and to kindly let them know I will get back with them later that day. Or even the next.
- Finish one task before beginning another. This sounds easy, but it’s not when you have anxiety. Part of having anxiety is fighting the urge to future-think: letting your mind run into all the things you’ll have to do and, again, taking you out of the present. If I find myself thinking of what’s next, I bring myself back to the task at hand, reminding myself that everything that needs to get done will.
- Make lists. Anxiety can be a good thing when it’s reminding you of things that need to be done in the future, but when you’re busy during the workday, it can feel overwhelming. I find that keeping lists is the best way to quell this. I keep my lists in the Notes section on my phone, and I have a list for everything: shopping lists, to do lists, gift lists, etc. I title them with keywords so I can quickly search for them to add something, and I even put a check mark next to things that get done. To feel accomplished.
- Take breaks. I tend to go on autopilot when working, as I’m sure many others do, thinking that if I just push myself to get everything done, then it’ll be done. But then I’m left to deal with myself after. You know, the person who exists behind the work machine. So I make myself take breaks by scheduling them. So I don’t lose myself throughout the day.
- Move. Movement is everything. I didn’t realize this before I started following a sensory diet to regulate my nervous system, but without it, I become overwhelmed very quickly. I practice yoga before even beginning my workday, I walk, stretch, or jump on my mini trampoline throughout the day, and I run or walk at night.
- Hydrate. Especially when I’m busy working, it can be easy to forget to drink enough water, but forgetting makes everything worse. Your thinking. Your digestion. Your stamina. I record how much water I drink each day to track it. It keeps me mindful of my consumption, which helps keep me hydrated.
- Eat. It’s also easy to forget to eat when working. Especially if you have anxiety and eating sometimes makes you feel sick. So you avoid eating during the workday so it doesn’t disrupt your progress. But you have to have fuel. I find that eating smaller meals or even snacks throughout the day works best for me. And smoothies are a godsend. A balanced, blended meal that I don’t even have to chew.
- Put your mental, physical and emotional health first. Everyone says not to come into work when you’re sick, but we’re all guilty of it. And you might feel sick just from being mentally or emotionally drained. But when you aren’t well and you push yourself, nothing good comes out of it. We all know this. So take mental health breaks. Heck, take mental health days. Be mindful of what your body is telling you. And if it’s telling you that your current job is too much for you, consider finding one that allows you to work at a natural pace. Where, for the most part, you feel at ease each day. Able to get your work done and to take care of yourself. For self-care is the best weapon we have to fight anxiety and depression.
I wish you all stress-free workdays where you can put yourself first and still get your work done!
For more tips on surviving in the workplace, click here.