1. Shallow the Frog
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
2. Take little breaks
Breaks are the allies of persons with depression. We often think we are most productive when we plug through a project without looking up; however research indicates that taking breaks can decrease stress hormones, increase dopamine and other feel-good chemicals, and strengthen the neural connections that aids memory and executive functions. In other words, breaks make us more productive. They are especially necessary for depressed persons, because our brains are already working overtime. Trying to reframe negative thoughts 24/7 consumes an incredible amount of energy. Your delicate noggin is going to blow a fuse if you don’t stop and breathe. Consider your brain as a weary body in a boot camp class at the gym. Best to take the water break and hydrate.
3. Take the pen out
Write it down.
4. Treat Yourself
I break the rule on corporate etiquette by blasting calming music into a set of earphones when at the office. Of course, when someone sneaks up on me to tell me something, I scream, and that negatives the effect. But the music really does soothe my nerves. Even Yanni. I also practice deep breathing as I write, usually the square breathing method: inhaling to a count of four, holding my breath to four, exhaling to four, holding my breath to four, and starting again. It’s Deep Breathing for Idiots. You can also simply breathe out of your nose, which constrains your breathing and has calming effects. I also tighten my fist, envision the person I’d like to punch, and release.
Talk to someone.
6. Start Feelin' Yourself
My desk is, well, a reflection of me and my pursuit to stay alive and functioning. First, I have a massive HappyLite that screams “Darkness, go away!!” Then there are the spiritual sayings hanging everywhere—the Serenity Prayer, the Prayer of St. Francis, and others–that scream, “Darkness, go away!!!” Finally, there are some favorite pictures of my family that scream, “You need this job!!! Don’t quit yet!” All of them inspire me to keep going. I get discouraged. I want to give up. I look at one of these things, and I think, “Oh yeah.”