Pardon my language, but the F word just seemed appropriate for the title and it's also how I was feeling at the time. In fact ... the language in this post MIGHT be like ... PG-13. Hehe.
Yes, I'm just gonna throw a couple effing F bombs out there today so woo hoo!
Let's face it ... depression happens and yet, the show must go on! I feel like depression is a topic that isn't discussed too often among creative entrepreneurs and yet, it's a pretty prevalent thing to ignore. In fact, according to this article 30% of entrepreneurs are depressed!
Now isn't that rather depressing?
Throughout my life I have regularly experienced the occasional day where I feel depressed for no reason. I'm pretty sure my personality type is simply prone to it! However, traumatic life events can also trigger the deep, dark, rainy cloud of hopelessness and sadness. I recently came through a period of several months where life felt pretty dark and yet, I still needed to find a way to keep moving forward and to work on my creative business despite the fact that my mind was a total train wreck!
When it came to work (and life, let's be honest), my thought process sounded something like this ...
I'm so sick of seeing everyone's perfectly styled, perfectly happy, perfectly perfect photos on Instagram! It's all CRAP. Life isn't always perfect and in fact ... right now it SUCKS. I should post something today, but do I care enough to? No ... no I don't.
I need to write a blog post today but my brain is broken. Fuck it. I'll do it later.
I need to work on the course that I want to launch but I feel too sad to do that so ... fuck it. I'll do it later.
I need to come up with e-mail content for my subscribers but ... fuck it. I'll do it later.
I need to shower and work on my to-do list but then again I COULD just watch Netflix all day so ... fuck it. I'll do it later.
Can I just go back to bed so that I can wake up tomorrow?
Why am I even trying when I will probably just fail? There's so many people out there who are better than me!
WHO CARES ABOUT THIS ANYWAY?!
(That's a purdy little flower that I photographed while storm chasing!)
Can any of ya'll relate? Have any of you been there? We all have our off days of course, but extended bouts of depression are the WORST. And for many, they happen. What makes it even harder is how everyone else SEEMS to have it all together. So today I thought I'd share 20 tips that helped me get work done despite my recent MAJOR case of the blahs!
1. Accept that you can't do it all right now.
When you feel like a depressed sack of shit, some times just doing basic things like getting out of bed and showering requires a great amount of strength! When you are feeling especially low, you need to accept that you simply can't get it all done right now, and that's okay.
2. Be kind to yourself.
If you're like me, you might want to get down on yourself for not being able to get everything done. So not only do you need to accept the fact that you can't do it all right now, you also need to be kind to yourself. Show yourself extra love during this rough time and just do what you can.
3. Work on things that require less brain power on especially hard days.
Some days might be worse than others. On the days where all you want is to simply go back to bed so that the day can just be over, try to do things on your to-do list that require little brain power. For example, for me that meant editing photos on my rough days (which is more visual and doesn't require much thinking), as opposed to doing something like writing a blog post (which requires a decent amount of thought.)
(Yep ... MORE pretty flowers that I shot while out storm chasing!)
4. Make yourself a new music playlist that inspires you.
I'm the first to admit that I LOVE me some good melancholy music! But music can have a huge effect on your mood, so after awhile you should try to make yourself a playlist of NEW music that inspires you. Don't continue to listen to songs that might bring up painful memories and negative emotions. Explore new options, yo!
5. If you work alone, have some one keep you company while you work.
I work at home completely alone. And usually, this is just fine! (Despite my tendency to talk to my cat Mr. Purrie like a human being, hehe.) But when I was feeling extremely depressed, my motivation to work was pretty damn low. I'd go sit down at my computer with the intention of working only to find myself so sad and depressed that sitting there became unbearable and my thoughts strayed only to negative ones. I later discovered that bringing in a close friend -even to just sit quietly while you work- can be a great comfort!
6. Try a change of scenery from your usual workspace.
If you can, try working some where else on occasion. Is there a coffee shop that you love? Is there a beautiful spot outside where you can enjoy the sunshine? Giving yourself a change of scenery can help offer new inspiration and boost your mood on those extra hard days.
7. Reward yourself for accomplishing even the smallest of tasks.
Did you take a shower this morning? That's amazing. No seriously, it is. Because you probably feel like why the sam hill should you even bother taking a shower in the first place right?! Reward yourself for getting even the smallest of tasks done. Maybe that means going for a walk outside after you check and respond to all e-mail, enjoying a small treat when you complete a design project or taking yourself out to the movies when you finish a blog post! Speaking of small tasks, that reminds me ...
(The actual storm I shot while out storm chasing!)
8. Make a to-do list every day and give yourself the satisfaction of crossing off even the smallest of tasks.
Make a to-do list. Seriously. These are important to begin with for productivity, but they are EXTRA important when you are feeling depressed! To-do lists will help keep you focused AND make you feel accomplished every single time you get to cross something off. Took a shower? Check. Brushed your hair? Check! Treated yourself to a healthy breakfast? CHECK. (If you really wanna go in depth, check out this post on how to create the ultimate to-do list!)
9. Adjust your work tasks as needed.
As I said in tip #1, you should accept that you can't do it all right now, and that's okay. Reschedule things and adjust your workload accordingly! If you're having a particularly bad day for example, reschedule (if possible) your hardest tasks for another day and do the easier things instead. I was initially planning on launching an online course at the end of October but you know what? I moved that launch, and it's not the end of the world. I focused on taking care of myself instead! Which leads me to ...
10. Do something to show yourself some love every day.
When you are feeling ultra depressed, taking care of yourself is SO important! Show yourself some compassion and treat yourself well. Eat well, do things you enjoy, talk with friends ... focus on things that make you happy. (Feel free to check out this post on 30 ways to show yourself some love!)
(I took this photo while out storm chasing, isn't it purdy?!)
11. Remember why you started your business in the first place.
Some times it's good to remind yourself of WHY you started your creative business in the first place! Depression makes it easy for all of your hopes and goals to get clouded and seem stupid and/or out of reach. Don't let it!!! Show depression whose boss. Write down WHY you started your business in the first place, (and what your ultimate goal is), and hang it some where you can see it on a daily basis!
12. Take a break in your work day to do something therapeutic.
If you can muster the strength to work, excellent! Work hard, but allow yourself to take a break to do something therapeutic. Going for a walk, reading a bit of your favorite book, coloring, meditating ... whatever helps you to relax! For me, I have found coloring to be super relaxing and a great way to clear the mind. (They sell tons of awesome adult coloring books at Barnes'N'Noble!)
13. Look in the mirror, and in the voice and persona of a character that you invent, say really good things about yourself.
Yeah you might feel a little crazy doing this, but so what?! It's fun. And it feels good. Think about things that you would say to encourage a friend going through a rough time and say them to yourself. My character is a british babe named Lilly and she loves to tell me what a bloody bad-ass I am in her thick british accent!
14. Force yourself to exercise 4 - 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes.
I'm sure you've already heard about the many benefits of exercise and how wonderful it is with helping to cope with depression, so I'm not going to babble about that here. Just make time to exercise, mmmkay? DO IT!!! A 30 minute walk each day to help boost your mood and sanity is totally worth it.
15. Write down your vision for what you will feel when you're healed, and read it every day.
There was a point where I seriously worried if I would EVER feel better. Would I be a hopeless feeling sad sack forever?! I worried about that. A lot. And guess what the worrying did? It made me feel even MORE anxious and depressed! Instead of focusing on this being a situation that you're IN, focus on this being a situation that you're working THROUGH. Take a few minutes to write down, in detail, how you will feel when you feel better. What will your days look like? What will your business look like? Now tape it some where visible in your workspace!
16. Let some one close to you know that you're going through a rough time, and lean on them for support.
I'm the type of person who does NOT like asking for help. I am self sufficient and independent and I CAN DO EVERYTHING MYSELF DAMMIT!!!! Except that ... I can't. Reaching out for help isn't a weakness, it's a sign of strength. Having support from some one is HUGE. Having some one who knows that you're not okay right now HELPS. On the days where I felt my saddest, I would spend time with a close friend going to a coffee shop, watching a movie, going for a walk, etc.
17. Try to find things that inspire you everyday.
Depression super sucks because it literally drains all of the joy from the things that you normally love! Not cool. That's why it's extra important to put in more effort to finding small things to help inspire you every single day. Go outside and enjoy nature. Read your favorite blogs. Go see a good movie. Sign up for a class you've always wanted to try. You get the picture right?! (Check out this post for 15 ways to get super inspired if you wanna!)
18. Write down 5 things you are grateful for every day.
This might sound a bit cheesy, but it helps to keep things in perspective when everything seems like POOP. So just try it.
19. Allow yourself to take a day completely off every now and then.
Some times it's better to just take the entire day off (if possible) to really spend it taking care of your mental health! Some days I knew that work just WASN'T going to happen. I knew that if I tried, I would just waste the day sitting at my computer being totally unproductive while doing nothing for my mental sanity. Mental health days are not only good, but some times they are necessary.
20. Join a supportive community of creatives on Facebook.
You might look around and think that everyone has their shit together by the looks of their perfectly curated posts and content, but I promise you that everyone does not. There are plenty of others that are going through rough patches too! Find a community of like-minded individuals on Facebook who can offer you strength and encouragement. (Pssst, I've got a FB group full of creatives that you're welcome to join!)
And there you have it! I hope these tips help. If you're going through a dark patch right now, just remember that you can make it through! There are lots of people out there who are struggling too, and we can support and kick butt together. And if you want even more ideas for things to do when you're feeling depressed, (and you want the satisfaction of checking things off and feeling productive!) then download this handy checklist:
And if you need a fabulous song to add to your kick butt music playlist, try this one:
It totally gets me going in a GOOD way. (And it's best to listen to at a blasting volume!!!)
Have you ever struggled to work through depression in your creative business? What got you through? What do you need help with?