At the end of 2014, the U.S. saw its unemployment rate drop to 5.6 percent, the lowest it had been in the last six years. While this is by all means great news, this also implies that the country’s workforce is now slightly more occupied with those from the 20 percent of the population that suffers from a mental health disorder. Working with a mental illness is an everyday struggle that can complicate even the simplest of tasks; literally working with one is akin to upping the difficulty setting of life to “Advanced” every weekday morning.
Fortunately, thanks to recent advancements in the field of psychology, there are simple steps that can make avoiding anxiety and working with a mental illness easier. Based on research by author and clinical psychologist Deborah Serani, the following are nine tips to literally work with a mental disorder and avoid getting “crazy on the clock.”
Create structure and map out the day – Although this may sound counterintuitive as that structure is generally a stress inducing thing, creating one’s own schedule can provide them with a sense of empowerment in addition to being slightly more organized. Not only will it mitigate some of the anxiety that comes with daily time management issues, but may ease depression and other mood disorders.
Find what you need to be productive – This is easier said than done, but there are many small changes we can make to decrease the emotional difficulty level of being productive, such as wearing headphones, setting one’s phone to silent, taking medication in the morning versus at night, with or without food, etc.
Set realistic goals – Setting high goals may be an effective strategy in the long term, but setting unrealistic daily goals often amounts to more stress and anxiety.
Avoid triggers – Working with a mental illness can be like trying to grind out a productive day in a minefield. According to Dr. Serani, research tells us that stress overload not only intensifies symptoms of mental illness, but can trigger relapses in individuals who are symptom free. Being mindful of one’s triggers, whether they may stem from attempting to pack too many tasks into one day or interacting with certain areas, may avoid a spike in symptoms.
Work ahead – Getting work done slightly early can not only save you from missing a deadline if something comes up, but decrease the amount of stress during the week in general.
Accept that bad things will happen – Although positive thinking definitely has its place in mitigating some mood disorders, overly positive thinking can lead to cognitive dissonance and feelings of being overwhelmed. Accepting that a perfect day devoid of any discomforting situations or negative emotions is not possible can alter the way one perceives and reacts to stress.
Be healthy(er) – Diet is one of the most overlooked factors in the treatment of mental health (not including diets of medication). Many simple dietary deficiencies can result in symptoms that look like depression, although can easily be remedied by adjusting one’s caloric calendar.
Hypothyroidism – Iodine deficiencies can cause the thyroid to underproduce, leading to symptoms similar to those of clinical depression. Getting checked for hypothyroidism is simple; if left unchecked, it may lead to insulin resistance, also easily mistaken for mood disorders.
Blood sugar – Some studies have linked insulin resistance to depression and inconsistent food Eating inconsistently can cause fluctuations in blood sugar, triggering the stress response and causing mood changes like anxiety and depression, according to some experts.
Dehydration – Also a cause of high blood sugar and insulin resistance, dehydration can lead to fatigue and changes in mood similar to symptoms of depression, according to studies. Avoiding caffeine can also lead to less dehydration and more emotional stability as well.
The workplace is a stressful enough environment for the 80 percent of “normal” people without psychological issues. Whether it is anxiety or depression or full blown psychopathy, working with a mental disorder can be less of a hurdle by following one of the aforementioned tips.
Written by Chase Beckwith, Sovereign Health Group writer