How to avoid on-the-job depression

Posted Oct. 21, 2011, at 2:10 p.m.

Especially in a tough economy, “it’s unbelievable how many people struggle with trying to feel happy at work,” says Ellen Golding, a psychologist based in Los Angeles. Her tips:

  • Don’t isolate. Walk around and greet co-workers and attend staff lunches and office parties, even if you have to force yourself.
  • Be positive. Don’t constantly vent about problems in the office or at home. Find at least one co-worker who is generally upbeat to hang around.
  • Allow more time in the morning. If you’re rushing to leave home, you’ll arrive at work already stressed. Build at least 15-minute cushion into your commute.
  • Change self-talk. Practice turning negatives into positives. Instead of fretting you won’t finish a project, for example, tell yourself you’ll make a plan to do it.
  • Deal with a boss who “hates” you … Accept that it’s fine not to have a great personal bond and focus on being professional. Find out exactly what your boss needs and do it.
  • … and one who bullies. To gain more control, regularly ask for clarification on your duties. Repeat back what your boss says, create a written email record and try to have other people listening as you two talk.
  • Combat layoff anxiety. Do what you can to prepare for possible downsizing by researching other jobs and participating in educational, volunteer and networking opportunities.
  • Decompress off the job. Listen to books on tape or a favorite music station on your commute — nothing negative or work-related. If you have to bring work home, take a break to exercise, watch a funny TV show or spend time with family or friends.
  • Live healthfully. Eat a nutritious lunch during the workday, drink beverages that calm you — herbal tea or water, say, rather than coffee — and aim for seven or eight hours of sleep a night.

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