Depression, sadness, the blues, appearing surly, mental illness. Call it what you will but everyone has suffered—and still does—from it at some point in their work lives. Employers and employees both pay a price, but for a small business owner who can sometimes be the only person, it can be a heavy one.

…the total economic burden of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is now estimated to be $210.5 billion per year, representing a 21.5% increase from $173.2 billion per year in 2005.


With the recent COVID-19 crisis, depression can rapidly set in as bills pile up, businesses are forced to close or pivot rapidly, and your world starts spiralling.

As human beings, work is important to our well-being, not only in generating income but giving us purpose and a structure to our week. It can be a way to connect to other people, many of whom are also friends, and a way to display our personalities.

For small business owners, they may also be the sole provider for a family, which can add an additional level of pressure compared to those who are salaried. No one likes the feeling of having an inability to pay a bill.

When depression strikes, it can shut down any creativeness, which can slow productivity down and add weight to the problem. You can be crippled as you go down the “rabbit hole”. Putting on a brave face for customers is a skill that not everyone possesses.

Car parked
Getting perspective from nature


Depression can have a big impact on the way we work and function, affecting our thoughts, feelings, abilities and behaviours. It can lie dormant within us, rising up when triggered by a problem in either our personal or work life.

The ability to check email from multiple sources, including family and friends, can start a train of thought that can be difficult to control. Those people don’t realize—or don’t care—that you are at work and can access email, sometimes wanting immediate answers. But a “recipe” of factors can sometimes slow it down and get you back to a better place.

Social media, especially Facebook, can put a huge amount of stress upon a person. We see our friends partying in Cuba, climbing mountains, getting into new relationships, and if our lives are little more than all work, kids, and Netflix, we can feel inadequate, boring, and unpopular. We need to remember that Facebook posts are minute “happy” snapshots of peoples’ lives. They never post their dull or sad moments.

Fruit smoothie
Recipe for well-being

Some Answers

What is our “recipe” for dealing with depression at work? When pressure from clients, especially when it can seem personal and curt, becomes too much, we turn to:

  • Opening a window to get some fresh air circulating
  • Leaving the office for some fresh air, taking a stroll around town or in nature, heading to the forest or ocean
  • Eating well, avoiding junk food
  • Change the workday schedule, even by 15 minutes
  • Stop checking social media at work, adding a calendar item (and sticking to it) to check it at a specific time instead
  • Playing the music we enjoy from our iTunes library
  • Planning to follow some online sport (BBC Sport text feeds are good), having something to look forward to
  • Coffee with a friend to share frustrations and get a second opinion
  • Lunchtime soccer, a workout, or a swim can release difficult thoughts
  • Lunchtime yoga can slow an active brain down
  • Homemade lunch every day, eating the food we like
  • Riding our bike or walking home in the rain can clear the mind, allowing you to arrive home in a better place than when you left work to start the journey
  • People in less sunny countries suffer from a lack of vitamin D in winter – add a supplement to your daily diet

What ingredients go into your recipe? Let us know below in the comments.