7 Life Hacks for Working Moms With Depression
Symptoms of depression, such as sadness, trouble concentrating, and difficulty making decisions, don’t fit well with a full-time job. If you're living with depression, try these tips to balance family and work.
One in five Americans have symptoms of depression at one time or another, and women are twice as likely as men to be depressed. And for those supermoms who are balancing family and work, managing depression can be especially challenging.
Here are a few life hacks for depression that can help you get your symptoms under control so you can handle the day-to-day needs of your job and family without becoming overwhelmed.
Supermoms may feel the urge to do everything, both on the job and at home. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day. Say “no” when necessary to avoid overcommitting. Be especially gentle to yourself on days when fatigue and other depression symptoms are at their worst.
Parenting and working with depression can be a juggling act. Don’t try to do everything on your own. Ask your partner and kids to share the load of housework. Delegate responsibilities to coworkers when you can’t get everything done yourself. And look for other support systems, such as your friends or a mental health provider, when you feel like balancing family and work is too much. Your company might offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that can steer you to a psychologist or therapist in your area.
Managing depression usually involves a combination of antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), plus talk therapy. It can take a few tries to find the medication that improves your symptoms. But once you do get on the right medicine and dose, you’ll feel better equipped to carry out your work and family responsibilities. If you feel that your doctor isn’t taking your depression seriously, or not offering you enough resources, find another medical professional who you feel more comfortable with. This can take some time, but it’s worth the struggle to find someone you trust.
It can be hard to be honest about your condition, especially if you’re not sure how the people at your job will react. But if you can confide in a colleague you trust or tell your manager you’re having some mental health challenges, you’ll have less explaining to do on days when you don’t feel your best. Not everyone works in an environment that’s supportive to those with these types of struggles, so make the decision that’s right for you. It may be a good idea to talk to your human resources (HR) representative about your depression and ask for guidance about how to address it with your colleagues. You might also qualify for job accommodations such as extra breaks or a more flexible work schedule that will make managing depression easier.
One of the simplest life hacks for depression is the time out. Schedule 15-minute breaks into each day, both at work and at home. When you hit your limit in either role—mom or employee—take 15 to breathe deeply and get your bearings again. Also give yourself a break if one of the many balls you’ve been juggling drops, like if you forget a deadline or miss a school recital. Forgive yourself, give yourself grace, and take some time to reset.
Time can be in short supply when you’re balancing family and work. Plus, depression can cloud your perception of what you’re realistically capable of doing–and what actually needs to get done. Schedule out each day on paper, putting the most pressing priorities first. Understand you might not always make it to the end of your list. To increase efficiency, cut out time wasters such as scanning social media and watching TV. Use the time you save for more meaningful, intentional, and rewarding activities, like playing ball with your kids, taking a walk with your partner, or soaking in a relaxing bath.
Depression for working moms can be especially hard because of the many competing pressures they face. You dedicate so much of yourself to your family and your company that you may have nothing left for yourself. Make time to do things just for you—things that you love. Carve out time each day to practice yoga, read a good book, listen to your favorite music, or just take a walk. Take care of your body with regular exercise, good-quality sleep, and a well-balanced diet. Feeling good physically can improve your emotional state, too.
Juggling motherhood and a career is no easy feat–and depression can make it feel almost impossible. Know you’re not alone. Your friends, family, and community are here to support you, and there is always help available. Make sure to use your resources, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), and be kind to yourself when things are overwhelming. Keep putting one foot in front of the other until you can see through to the other side. It will be worth it.