Being productive on bad mental health days
Responsibilities and adulthood become 50x harder when you’re feeling depressed or anxious. You can’t exactly call your boss and say ‘sorry, too sad to work today’ – though, man, I wish I could. Wouldn’t it be amazing if mental health days were a thing? At some point, you just have to figure out how to be productive through your bad days.
I’m gonna be honest, it’s pretty awful. When I’m sad I just want to sleep it off or binge Breaking Bad for the 5th time. No one signed up for adulthood, but I guess it does beat the alternative. Anyway, here are a few things that I’ve found to help me stay productive when I’m struggling with my mental health!
Accept where you’re at
Sometimes you just have to accept that you’re not working at 100%, and that’s perfectly okay. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do more than you reasonably can. In the end, you still won’t have accomplished what you set out to and you’ll feel even worse. If I know I need to write but I’m struggling, I might switch to an easier topic that isn’t as mentally draining. Sometimes I’ll push the post back a day or two and instead focus on writing an outline and getting photos ready. It’s okay to recognize your limits.
Staring at a long list of things to do can be super overwhelming and can make it hard to know where to start. Add a few easy tasks to start with like ‘decide topic’ instead of ‘write blog post’. It’s much easier for me to start by settling on what I want to write than to actually get a full post completed right away. On bad days, I have to break down the process and take baby steps rather than diving right in.
You could even add items like ‘brush teeth’ or ‘take out the trash’. They seem like mundane items that you don’t really need to write down to remember, but the act of ticking off an item can get you in the productive mindset and excited to keep going down the list. The more you get done, the easier it gets to complete harder tasks.
Give yourself extra time
On a good day, I can knock out a post in an hour or two. When I’m in a funk, sometimes it can take me a few days. Knowing this, I like to start posts a few days in advance if I can. That way, I’ve already got a head start of my mood takes a dive and I can’t work as fast on a day I need to publish a post.
We all have those moments when we’re watching tv or laying around telling ourselves ‘I know I need to go do ______, but I just can’t.’ Sometimes it genuinely does seem impossible, too. Other times, we just need that initial push because once you start a task, your brain sort of shifts and says ‘oh we’re doing this now, okay’. On bad mental health days, it can be so hard to redirect yourself but those few minutes where you start a new task can make all the difference. Set a timer on your phone and when it goes off, get up without thinking and just start whatever task you need to get done. Once you’re in the process of completing something, it’s easier to keep going.
Let your friends help
Talk to your friends or family about what’s going on! Friends are able to gently encourage you while also calling you out on your excuses. For me, I know that I’m much more likely to get something done if I tell someone about it first. I feel more committed that way because I hate the feeling of going back on my word. If you’re having a hard time getting things done, maybe talk it out with someone. Ask for a pep talk. Or maybe ask a friend to come over and work with you. They could bring over their homework or do their laundry while you do your work. Sometimes doing a boring or difficult task is just easier when you’re not the only one working on something.
I hope that these help at least a little bit! But even if they don’t, remember that everyone’s mental health struggles are different. Sometimes you just can’t get things done, and you don’t need to feel ashamed or feel guilty. Take care of yourself and do the best you can!