You know those days when you wake up depressed and you know that it’s important that you be productive nonetheless? Those are rough days!
It is possible to be productive when you are depressed. It might at times feel like you are climbing a mountain backwards in flip flops but if you have to be productive it IS possible.
#1 – Get out of bed!
This, obviously, is the most essential piece of being productive when depressed. And it’s most probably the hardest.
For most of us bed is our favorite place to be when we are depressed. It’s cozy and warm and safe and we can sleep away our sadness. At least for a while.
But to be productive you have to get out of it. Which is hard but imperative.
People I know who suffer from depression have a myriad of tricks to get themselves out of bed and stay out of bed. They place their alarm clock across the room and when it goes off they have to get out of bed to turn it off. Some people strip their sheets off their bed once they are out or even take their mattress off it’s box spring. Whatever it takes to keep them out of bed and getting started on their day.
#2 – Exercise.
The second most important piece of being productive when depressed is getting some exercise.
I know! The prospect seems herculean but what a difference it will make if you can do it!
Exercise produces endorphins which is exactly the chemical that is deficient when you are depressed. Exercise will help replete your bodies supply of endorphins, at least for a while.
And newly stocked your body, and mind, will able to be more productive.
So get out and do something. Take a walk, go for a run, do some yoga, play frisbee. Whatever you enjoy that will get your heart rate up and those endorphins flowing.
#3 – Choose one thing to get done.
Sometimes all it takes is doing one thing to get out of a depressed stupor.
Sitting in your bed, or on your sofa, pondering all of the things that you have to do can be so daunting that you give up completely and instead binge watch The Walking Dead. That is not productive.
Instead of focusing on everything you need to get done consider ONE thing. And get up off the couch and do that one thing.
Often times, if we are able to break our stupor and get something done we will feel so good that we will want to go on to another thing. And, while we might still feel depressed, we are being productive which will ultimately help put that depression at bay.
#4 – Choose to do things that you CAN do.
When I am depressed there are some things that I am absolutely not capable of doing. Making phone calls is one of them. I hate making phone calls on a good day. On a depressed day, forget about it.
I do know that on a depressed day there are some things that I can do. I can sort through my piles of paper and recycle and file them as necessary. I can go through and clean up my email inbox. I can do research on future blogs. I can go for a walk.
I know my things might seem weird but they are my things. Think about the things that you could do when you are depressed. And do them. Because even if you can’t make phone calls doing something else is definitely productive.
#5 – Let yourself off the hook.
Okay. You are depressed. And it sucks. But it is what it is.
Recognize that you are depressed and that you will have to ride it out. And in the meantime you might not be as productive as you would like to be but you are as productive as you can be.
If you don’t let yourself off the hook, don’t recognize that this depression will pass and that you will become your old self again, you will only sink into a deeper sadness which could fuel your inability to be productive.
So take care of yourself. Recognize that you are in a tough place and that you are doing your best nonetheless.
And then get up and do that one thing!
Being depressed is horrible. Being productive when depressed can seem impossible. But it doesn’t have to be!
Living with depression is like carrying a 50lb gorilla on your back. It’s debilitating and exhausting. But it doesn’t have to defeat you.
Get out of bed, exercise, choose one thing to do, do it and let yourself off the hook.
Trust me! You will be glad you did.
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I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.