You don’t need to have clinical depression or bipolar disorder to have a down day – everybody has them. They may not usually be as ferocious as mine or last for twelve days straight, as mine just did (I think I’m lifting out of it now, but can’t tell for sure). But everybody has rough times and is faced with the challenge of how to keep going – and everybody who works (including stay-at-home parents who work with their children) is probably faced with the challenge of how to get up for work when then they are down.
Here are some of my favorite strategies. Some of them appear in other blog posts. I started my day very depressed and most of these I used today in one form or another. You may need to adapt them to your particular work situation.
- Focus on your co-workers. Interact as strongly as you can with those who are closest to you – but interact also with as many as you can. Reinforce the notion of having a community at work, to whatever extent that is your experience.
- Interact with your customers as robustly as possible. Call them by name if you know their name – or it is available to you on your screen or on their driver’s license or their check. Make them real. Get your focus on them. Ask them my favorite question, “What’s been the highlight of your day?” – or some other question that goes beyond, “Hi, how are you?” Show an interest in them – get yourself interested in them. If it in any way fits for your situation, focus on the overall group of staff and customers as a community – and draw strength from that. I am fortunate that in my particular funky grocery store it really does make sense to think of our workplace as a community – if you are willing to go there with it.
- Pay attention to your product – here, groceries. Throw your attention there, and off of your depression or down state. Pay attention to the tangibleness of it – the texture, the heft, the color. Interact with your customers around their groceries – what you’ve had, what you’ve liked, what you would recommend that they try, what you’re curious about – what you’d like them to tell you about.
- This next one may be too philosophical or psychological for you. If it is, forget about it – it’s not important. Use it only if it’s helpful for you – it is for me. I like to ask myself “What does all this mean for me today? What is it that I’m finding out about this business of cashiering, about my relationship with my customers? What is it teaching me about how to be a whole person?”
So, like I said, I used most of these strategies today. And on a day that started out in the crapper, it progressively moved into a good zone. I’ve learned to not predict what the next day will be like: I can have a great evening, then have my biochemistry reset to solid depressed the next morning. But this was the best day I’ve had in a while – and I know these strategies helped.