The South AfricanDepression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) revealed that 1 in 4 South Africans in the workplace have been diagnosed with depression. This is not surprising since dealing with stress and criticism forms part of any job. But, faced with the wrong combination of stress and office politics, one can easily take things personally and forget to breathe.
This can become a problem when feelings of stress and anxiety last for a prolonged period as it often affects your performance at work and also on your overall health and well-being.
Symptoms of unhealthy stress in the workplace
SADAG revealed in their 2015 Impact of Depression at Work report that trouble concentrating, indecisiveness and forgetfulness are cognitive symptoms that may accompany depression. The report also showed that people who experience depression may take more time to complete simple tasks and make more mistakes than usual at work.
A Cape Town based occupational therapist,Debbie Bub, says that various stressors in the workplace can affect anyone. Even young profesionals suffer from work-relared stress. “There are practical techniques you can use at work to help keep your performance up when you’re feeling a bit low,” she says.
1. Set goals
Setting small goals and rewarding yourself once you have achieved them can serve as motivation to complete tasks. Especially when your workload seems overwhelming. “For example, make a cup of tea after working through 5 emails. Breaking tasks down will help you manage your load”, she says.
This may seem like a simple task, but deliberately changing your breathing rhythm can help manage stress. Bub advises closing your eyes and taking 5 deep breaths, making the exhalation longer than the inhalation. “The more we can slow our breathing the more in control we will feel”, she advises.
3. Ask for help
Often we think asking for help is a sign of weakness, but it is actually the opposite that is true, warns Bub. Healthy people are those that can reach out for support and help when we need it.
4. Healthy body, healthy mind
Taking care of your physical health is more beneficial to your and mental health than you think. The healthier we are, the better equipped we will be when stressful situations arise. She advises workers to watch their sugar intake, to drink enough water and make time for exercise.
5. Find meaning in the mundane details of your work
Having a long term vision for where you’re headed can make doing boring tasks a bit easier to tackle. “Remind yourself of the bigger picture and why doing the job well is good for your long term goals”, she says.
**These tips are not a solution for people suffering from depression.