5 Tips for Staying Positive at Work -- Even with Depression

October 14, 2020 Mahevash Shaikh

There's no denying the fact that staying positive does not come naturally to someone with depression. That said, trying to stay positive is important to cope with depression. It is also necessary to do a reasonably good job at work. Let's take a look at some ways to do both things.

Staying Positive with Depression

  1. Get real. In my opinion, for a depressed person to think positive, they have to be a realist. Being a realistic optimist makes life in general easier. At work, this translates to setting realistic goals, goals you can actually achieve. And once you meet those goals, you will naturally feel positive. Being a realist may give you only a tiny glimmer of positivity, but it still counts. People may pressure you to be overly positive, but do not give in to the pressure. Remember to stay away from toxic positivity at all costs.
  2. Adopt an attitude of "this too shall pass." Learn to let things go. Good or bad, nothing lasts forever -- and it's important to remember that. For those of us with depression, this is easier said than done. Hard times often feel permanent, and the pandemic may feel this way too. But as creatures capable of growth and change, it is definitely possible for you and me to accept the philosophy that change is the only constant in life. 
  3. Be grateful for the little things. Without going overboard, practice gratitude. This does not mean you have to maintain a daily gratitude journal. In my experience, that is impractical and gets old soon. What I mean by gratitude is simple and doable: notice what you have, honor your progress instead of comparing with others, and celebrate the smallest wins. I have recently started maintaining an online document of my blessings and accomplishments, like having a hot meal and waking up on a bad mental health day. This practice has definitely helped me feel more positive. 
  4. Keep hope alive. Hope is the ability to find light in the darkest times. Hope gives us the courage to go on because it enables us to feel that life will get better. Once you learn to practice gratitude, you will find yourself naturally feeling hopeful too. However, you have to be mindful of your thoughts as well. For example, I struggle with black-and-white thinking, which is a common symptom of depression. As the term implies, it is the tendency to see everything as either bad or good. This is unrealistic because most things in life are gray, a combination of good and bad. Rejecting black-and-white thinking helped me to think more positively.
  5. Practice mental reframing. Mental reframing -- also known as changing your perspective -- is essential if you want to think positively. In the point above, I spoke about how I rejected black-and-white thinking. I did this by using mental reframing, a technique I learned in cognitive behavioral therapy. Each time I encountered a black-and-white thought, I challenged it with facts. For example, after making a mistake at work, I used to think that I was never doing my job properly. Via mental reframing, I questioned this belief by reasoning that just because I made a mistake now didn't mean I made mistakes all the time. 

How are you staying positive at work even with depression? Let me know in the comments below.

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2020, October 14). 5 Tips for Staying Positive at Work -- Even with Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

Lizanne Corbit
October, 14 2020 at 11:50 am

I think this is one of those reads that just about everyone can actually benefit from. I love all of your suggestions, especially "this too shall pass". This is one of those things that seems so simple and obvious but when we're struggling with something it can feel like it's anything but temporary. When we take that moment to step back and remind ourselves that this will pass, it provides that much-needed perspective and groundedness.

October, 15 2020 at 3:56 am

Thanks, Lizanne :)
Yes, it's strange how we sometimes overlook the most simple and obvious solutions...stepping back and being mindful of how temporary everything is often what helps me when I am struggling.

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