How to stay productive - even on down days
Introducing YIREH’s newest content creator Lauren Bejot.
Lauren is currently living in Nebraska, is engaged, and knows a thing or two about conscious consumerism. Enjoy her first post below.
Those who have depression are familiar with the associated guilt and shame of not being productive. Especially in this world where we glorify busy over happy and pat ourselves on the back for an 80-hour work week at the office. Don’t get me wrong — if you can power through, that’s amazing. But, for some of us (myself included) it can feel like we’re required to walk through a river with cement blocks on our feet, weighing us down, just to get to the other side.
Raise your hand up if that sounds like you 👋
You’re not alone.
Starting in October where I live, the daylight becomes scarce and the weather becomes a gentle reminder to stay at home, in pajamas, under the blankets and sleep all day. As seductive as it is to hide from the world, depression quickly becomes deeper once I see the week’s worth of dishes piling in the sink, the refrigerator that hasn’t been restocked in two weeks, the laundry that keeps growing, the emails that need to be answered, and the trash that’s beginning to smell. Life becomes a long and daunting to-do list.
I started seeing a wonderful therapist two years ago this month that helped me work through the guilt of depression — especially in the winter when it becomes so much worse. Here are the three lessons I’ve learned that will help you get (some) stuff done.
Make a list
This was the biggest breakthrough for me, because this isn’t an ordinary list. This is a type of list specifically for those who have depression. First, draw three columns and label each the following: good days, okay days, bad days. Below the title, list things that you’re capable and willing to do on days that are associated with mentally good days, okay days and bad days. Then, require yourself to complete three of those items. For example, on a good day, I’ll go to work, attend an exercise class and cook a healthy dinner. On a bad day, I’ll go work, take a shower and unload the dishwasher. I like this style of list, because it alleviates the pressure of being energetic and crossing off a lot of items on your to-do list
Rely on others
If you have depression, have you told anyone? If not, I encourage you to open up to at least two close people in your life (as well as see a therapist). I rely on my mom and my significant other, Luke, to help me through the awful days. I’ll reach out to Luke and my mom to help me with household chores or lifting me up. When I’m so overwhelmed and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I just need someone to help with dinner, or the laundry, or reminding myself why I’m worthy of love.
Consume joyful content
I’m a true crime fan and absolutely love watching Dateline, listening to true crime podcasts and reading true crime books. But when my therapist and I made a mental inventory on how much graphic content I consume, she suggested I let it rest for a moment. She explained that while it’s fine to watch true crime sometimes, it’s not necessary every day and tends to deepen depression. This is also true of dramatic, emotional shows and such. So for the months of December until March, I only indulge in a little true crime entertainment, and fill the rest of my leisure time with either baking and seeing friends or watching something light-hearted on Netflix.
My best advice for those with depression is to try things out and see what works best for you. I’ve had three different therapists, been on two different medications, tried journaling and meditation and I’m still figuring out my secret sauce to surviving winter depression. So far, making a list, reaching out to loved ones, and consuming joyful content have made the biggest improvement.
Now it’s your turn — do any of these tips speak to you? Do you suffer from depression? How do you manage it through the winter season? Go to our Instagram and leave a comment to get the convo started!
P.S. As always, we strongly encourage you to seek professional advice regarding mental health. If you don’t know where to start, we recommend visiting the National Alliance on Mental Illness at www.nami.org or call at 800-950-6264.