“Tiffany” is a middle-aged woman who came to the Mental Health Program at Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB) when she was experiencing anxiety at work and difficulty in her marriage.
Tiffany had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder decades earlier. A series of negative events in her life contributed to a lack of self-confidence and motivation and a general feeling that she wasn’t good enough.
At the time she came to NFSB, Tiffany was working from home. Because work time often overlapped with personal time, she found it difficult to maintain a regular schedule before and after traditional work hours.
Tiffany often felt guilty that she didn’t have the motivation to prepare healthy meals for herself and would forget to help her husband with chores around the house. This was also affecting her husband, who felt overlooked and taken for granted.
The inability to fully disconnect from work has become a common challenge with more and more people working remotely. People often feel compelled to be constantly available to their employers. For example, they might say, “I would have been driving during this time of day if I was going to the office, so I’ll keep working. It’s only another 30 minutes.” Then 30 minutes becomes an hour, and two hours, etc.
Unfortunately, some employers contribute to these feelings by calling and emailing after work hours and expecting employees to respond. In other cases, people who are balancing work and home responsibilities feel as if there’s never enough time to get work done and end up sacrificing their personal time.
Through counseling, Tiffany’s clinician suggested developing boundaries between work time and personal/family time to reduce feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. Tiffany made it a point to take a full lunch hour without accepting calls, scheduling meetings, or even checking her phone for messages and emails. She would use mindfulness, meditation, and other self-care techniques during her lunch break.
Tiffany also created morning and evening routines to help her achieve the work-life balance she desired. For example, instead of waking up at 8, grabbing coffee, and rushing out the door, she would wake up an hour earlier, make a healthy breakfast, and perhaps watch a couple of mindfulness videos on YouTube before starting her workday.
At night, Tiffany had been struggling to sleep because of depression and anxiety. She worked with her clinician to develop a routine that involved a warm shower, soothing tea, a little TV, and a relaxing activity like reading a book before going to bed around the same time every night.
Throughout the house, Tiffany posted written reminders of household chores, such as taking out the garbage, emptying the dishwasher, and sweeping the floor, to ensure she didn’t fall behind on day-to-day tasks.
These boundaries, routines, and reminders have helped Tiffany exercise more, eat healthier, and build back the energy that had been sapped by depression and anxiety.
The benefits Tiffany has experienced from counseling have extended to her husband. In addition to implementing lifestyle changes that allow Tiffany and her husband to spend more time together, Tiffany has learned how to communicate her experiences with Major Depressive Disorder so her husband knows when she has low energy or is feeling sad.
With a greater understanding of Tiffany’s emotional state, her husband can help her through difficult times. Both Tiffany and her husband now feel seen, heard, and appreciative of each other and their relationship.
Today, Tiffany is thriving. She is still in counseling and has shown great improvement. This progress has motivated Tiffany to become the very best version of herself and find happiness in all areas of life.
If you or someone you know is showing signs of depression or anxiety and might benefit from counseling and support, please contact the Mental Health Program at NFSB. We will always respect your privacy. Call 973-667-1884 for an in-person or telehealth appointment.