One morning last week I woke-up feeling “blah.” I wasn’t sick. I’m not fighting with anyone — and wasn’t last week either. Business is good. So, why was I in a funk? I can’t pinpoint the exact reason. But, there are wide-variety of reasons why people get depressed — or “the blues.”
How to Channel Negativity Into Productivity.
“Getting the Blues” can be something as simple as the weather to having a Vitamin D deficiency. The negativity can also be because your stressed, lonely — or letting that inner voice get the best of you. Obviously — all lousy moods — and nearly anything else can be caused by brain chemicals.
You are not alone in having a bad day or two — here and there.
Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., a psychologist in Mill Valley, California, writes that the “reasons for a down mood may be multifaceted and difficult to determine. If you feel depressed for two weeks or more, seek a medical consult to rule out or treat underlying biological factors.”
In some cases, however, you may be able to get out of your funk by going outside, meditating, exercising, or doing something creative.
There is usually a study you can find and fall back on for advice.
What’s interesting, however, is that there’s been several studies that show successful people get depressed more often. In fact, it’s been found that CEOs may be depressed at more than double the rate of the general public.
That may sound ridiculous to you that a ceo could be depressed — but — there are several reasons why this occurs.
For starters, successful people are constantly comparing themselves with the Joneses (so to speak). What’s more, many people feel detached from their former selves especially if they work in a fast-paced industry that wears them done. Also, working all of the time doesn’t give a person a chance to stop and smell the roses — or do anything they really want to for that matter.
In short, we all get the blues every and now then.
There are as many reasons as there are people. Sadness may come upon you because of anxiety, stress, envy, or any other negativity circling around us. Of course, as noted by Dr. Greenberg, you should see someone if this state is prolonged.
If you just wake-up feeling down a lot — here are 11 ways that you can channel that negativity into productivity.
1. Institute your own “No Complaining Week.”
Complaining is easy. But, it’s also not productive and is extremely exhausting. That’s why you should implement a “no complaining week” where you develop one or two solutions to fix a problem.
For example, in 2009 Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was one the verge of laying off a lot of employees. Instead of complaining about this, CEO Paul Levy called an all employee meeting and said that he didn’t want to lay anyone off. But, in order to do this, he needed ideas from the staff.
He asked for help.
According to an article in The Boston Globe, “The consensus is that the workers don’t want anyone to get laid off and are willing to give up pay and benefits to make sure no one would lose their job.
A nurse said that her floor voted unanimously to forgo a three percent raise. A guy in finance who got laid off from his last job at a hospital in Rhode Island suggested working one less day a week. Another nurse said she was willing to give up some vacation and sick time. A respiratory therapist suggested eliminating bonuses.”
Levy said following the meeting he was getting “about a hundred messages per hour.”
Thanks to the sacrifice and creative thinking from his team, Levy was able to develop more than enough solutions to handle this crisis.
2. Move from envying to learning.
Whether if it’s seeing on Instagram that a friend is traveling through Europe, while you’re stuck at work, or a college roommate has a business that’s more successful than yours, envy is frequently swirling around.
But, instead of that consuming you, take a moment and consider the sacrifices they’ve made and take a short moment to be grateful for what you have.
We plainly don’ t know the reasons for others actions. Make something up to help yourself if you have to.
For example, that friend traveling Europe may be maxing out their credit cards to do so — while you have little debt. Your college roommate may have thriving business — but they gave-up having something in order to do what they are doing.
“People should move from envying to learning,” suggests Bhaskar Venugopal, Process Consultant at an MNC.
“You should examine what another person has achieved and make your own plans to reach the same goal. It is important to try and bridge the gap, either by expanding your own knowledge or being more productive. Make a plan for your own life instead of fueling your envy.”
3. Use that adrenaline.
When you get anxious you may have been told to take some deep breaths and find a quiet space to calm your nerves. The thing is, anxiety gives you adrenaline. So, instead of letting that stimulate go to waste, why not put it to good use?
According to Alison Wood Brooks, a professor at Harvard Business School who has studied something called “anxiety reappraisal,” instead of taking the “Keep Calm and Carry On” advice, your slogan should be, “Get Amped and Don’t Screw Up.”
One great use of adrenaline is to clean. I can get on a rampage about something someone did to really piss me off — whether they meant to or not — and I can get my whole house cleaned.
As explained in The Atlantic, this is “because anxiety and excitement are both aroused emotions. In both, the heart beats faster, cortisol surges, and the body prepares for action. In other words, they’re ‘arousal congruent.’”
The difference? “Excitement is a positive emotion‚ focused on all the ways something could go well.”
What Brooks has found is that it’s easier for you to convince yourself to amped when you’re anxious. So, let’s say that your nervous about giving a meeting presentation. Instead of freaking out, just tell yourself how excited you are for the meeting.
4. Curb analysis paralysis.
Anxiety and stress essential “scramble” your brain making it difficult to focus. As a result, you procrastinate. To make matters worse, we only have a limited amount of willpower. So, if you’re spending your time trying to fight procrastination, you’re using up your mental energy. Then you suffer from decision fatigue.
Claim your small victories.
When this occurs, use that anxiety to accomplish small victories. Tim Ferris suggests that you set aside two to three hours to focus on just one task. You may put off something more urgent and start to procrastinate — but always go back to that one-thing.
Even if you have not accomplished everything you wanted to — it’s a start. You can then use that momentum to keep moving forward.
5. Be open to negativity, it will make you more resourceful.
“Being resourceful even under the pressure of building negativity can happen only when you welcome it in your life with open arms,” writes Brian Zeng on Everyday Power. “However, this should be a temporary exercise. You don’t want feelings of anxiety, depression and the like to take over your life.”
Zeng adds that, “The big benefit of being open to negativity and embracing it every once in a while is that you can take control of it (instead of the other way around).
As Zeng explains, you can “prevent it from having a grave effect over you. Over time, you learn to stop feeling bad about it and realize that it wasn’t a big deal to begin with.”
For example, if you’re a small business owner, you probably dread Yelp. Besides having to address unhappy customers, if you refuse to play nice with Yelp they’ll hide or filter positive reviews. But if you realize that negative Yelp reviews aren’t the end of the word, you can get creative.
Bravo to Botto Italian Bistro — I want to be like them IF I ever grow up.
That’s what Botto Italian Bistro in Richmond, California did. They welcomed one-star reviews by offering 50 percent off any pizza order for a one-star review. They even award the “funniest and most sarcastic bad review of the month get free tickets” to their cooking class.
6. Use you anger to smash creative blocks.
David Burkus writes in an article for 99U that research has found that the most productive start their days with negative emotions like stress, guilt, and hostility.
“One possible explanation is focus,” writes Burkus. “Past research suggests that negative emotions help narrow our focus to specific tasks or projects and even persist longer on those projects, especially when it comes to getting rejected.”
It’s believed that these “initial negative emotions were actually helping the professionals keep their mind focused on their work longer, digging deeper into the problems they might be facing and generating better solutions.”
Studies show that being in a bad mood can give us the fuel “to return to a particularly difficult problem or a project that has stalled out.”
7. Monitor productivity fluctuations.
Research out of the Missouri University of Science and Technology suggests that beginning to love focus may an early warning sign of impending anxiety. For instance, if you’re seeking out distraction, switching between tasks, and neglecting your goals, you may be headed towards an anxiety attack.
Monitor your changes and see where you can up your productivity.
By monitoring these productivity fluctuations you can have an anxiety early warning system. This gives you a moment to determine what the underlying cause of the anxiety is.
Is it a specific task? Is it dealing with a certain client?
Knowing this information can help you look for ways to prevent these feelings from cropping-up in the future, such as delegating the tasks you don’t like or firing clients that make feel stressed-out.
8. Direct your negative emotions at problems, not people.
When you’re not feeling 100 percent — it’s easy to fly off the handle at coworkers and your friends and family. This doesn’t make the situation any better. On top of already feeling down, you now have to deal with another fire.
Using your creative processes.
“It’s important to use the creative process as a way to direct the negative state away from others, writes Jenny Marchal over at Lifehacker. “Concentrating on creating will not only be therapeutic and allow potential inspiration to flow, but also channel the sadness, frustration, anxiety or depression away from those around you deflecting unnecessary conflicts.”
You’ve heard of the funny drunks and the mean drunks — same goes for the stressed out folks. Are you a funny stressed outer — or a mean stressed outer?
Instead of being nasty with others, turn those negative emotions into something creative, such as writing, cooking, clean your house, dancing, painting, or playing a musical instrument.
9. Get centered.
Centering is a pre-performance technique that originated in the 1970s Dr. Robert Nideffer. Dr. Nideffer came-up with this technique after noticing that before a sporting event, the athletes who were anxious altered their center of mass.
Where is your center of mass?
This lead to them feeling clumsy and self-conscious. However, this has since been applied to anyone who is “performing,” such as musicians or speakers.
When you feel this way, Dr. Nideffer developed a process that can help you quiet your mind and regain your focus.
- Choose a focal point so that you don’t get distracted. It should be below eye level.
- Have a clear goal in mind that you want to accomplish.
- Calm your body by using diaphragmatic breathing.
- When you get anxious your muscles tighten. Relax these muscles one-by-one.
- Locate your center — this is where your energy comes from.
- Visualize that you’ve successfully achieved your goal.
- Channel your anxiety so that it inspires and motivates you.
10. Solicit feedback.
Asking for feedback, particularly negative feedback, can be nerve-racking. After all, I doubt anyone likes to know what they’re doing wrong. However, you can use this feedback to your advantage.
By soliciting feedback you can:
- Identify your weaknesses and mistakes. This allows you to correct these areas so that you can perform better and faster.
- Change bad behavior and habits that are preventing you from being productive. If notice that you’re spending too much time on Facebook, you can then limit your social media usage to specific times of the day.
- Become a more effective leader. When you ask for feedback, you can identify ways to make you and your team work smarter, not harder.
11. Achieve the right balance between optimism and pessimism.
Finally, there’s a theory that negative thinking can actually be beneficial to your productivity. The reason? Being a defiant pessimist forces you to plan for the worst-case scenario.
As a result of trying to achieve an optimistic balance — you can redirect any negative feelings you may into a productive activity.
Let’s say that you’re an entrepreneur and your business is sinking. Telling yourself to “cheer-up” isn’t going to fix the problem. For me at least — it may prevent me from catching any red-flags or solutions that can save the business.
Are you a defiant pessimist?
If you’re a defiant pessimist, you’ll engage in constructive self-talk and take calculated risks to develop realistic ideas.