When you are in a down mood at work – this is how you move past it

Retail items on shelf merchandising

How I move past a down mood – at work and at home

Some days I am in a down mood at work.  This week I am thinking about the loss of my mother. It has been one year, and I feel sad. 

I work in a public space and sharing my personal feelings there is not appropriate.  So I take these steps to navigate those moments.

Feelings are OK

“…being sad doesn’t mean you are not coping with a situation. Rather, it helps you come to terms with that situation and move on. It is an important emotion that can help you adapt, accept, focus, persevere and grow.”


Some negative feelings ease with a short step, others need a few more and take longer. My well-being is top priority.  I have no problem with taking time out for a moment to ease my mind.

People are important in business and as an HR professional I know organisations take this seriously.  They have policies on employee welfare and every role is subject to this.  Should we not as sole-trader, micro-business or entrepreneur take it seriously for ourselves as well?

Helpful thinking

Thinking is not the same as verbalising. When I feel my thoughts are going the wrong way I say out loud “No Carina” or “Stop it Carina”.

Just as negative thoughts spiral you down, positive thoughts navigate a way up.  If I am sad or down because of something that happened in the past I ask “Does it help me to feel this way now?”. I answer “No Carina” to this question as that is the truth.  

When you find yourself in a down mood at work Heads Up is a good resource to learn more about the connection between our thoughts and the way we feel.

Health at Work

I recently took a Business Stressor Screen, a 2-minute survey on business stress.  I answered short questions on work circumstances, business responsibilities and work/life balance. Based on my responses I received tips on managing fatigue and a tool to create a Business Mental Health Plan.

The Ahead For Business website has been developed to help small business owners to take action on their own mental health and wellbeing.  I use the tools to assist in creating an orderly view of my business.  For me it puts things in perspective, like ‘connecting at work’ for example.   Communicating with customers is not the same as connecting with them.  Luckily, fair trade advocacy is part of my work, so my conversations go beyond business.  This benefits my health and well-being as it makes me feel less isolated. 

Download the template here and create your own Business Mental Health Plan.

Body and Mind are one

Physical activity and mundane tasks help me out of down moods.   Even low-intensity exercise releases a protein that improves and regulates mood.  Add fresh air to this and I get on top of a down mood at work quite quickly. These are my Time Out approaches when business and personal responsibilities weigh heavy. 

At work

Leave the shop for a while

I walk to the ladies room, window browse, walk up and down a few stairs or through some neighbouring streets. Movement is the key to counter the confined space of the shop.


Straighten clothes and make hangers all face the same way, re-fold, re-fit, colour match, pattern match and shape coordinate. A shop is a ready stress release option.  Make things look nice together makes me feel good. And when customers respond to it that gives me an even bigger boost.

Change day routine

Bring your own lunch and eat it outside. Fill the day by timing in-store activities like labelling, dusting the shelves and restocking around customer traffic. I like to leave for work a little earlier on some days. As I observe the difference in light, the traffic and people on the road I definitely feel like it is a new day.

Tidy storage

Create orderly and easy access to stock. Placing signage on boxes and grouping products as a structured mundane activity diverts me from negative thoughts. Knowing that my reward will be a good feeling when I need to find an item quickly is nice to look forward to.

At home

Garden for hours

Pull weeds and prune. My garden always needs tending. It is a ready stress release when needed.  Sometimes it also screams at me to tend it. I comply as it is really my subconscious nudging me to de-stress.

Clean cupboards and give things away

I place items to create order and space. It is similar to the mental exercise where you put a thought in a room and then close the door on it.  This activity always includes selecting a few items to give away.  

Giving lights up the area in the brain that controls feelings of pleasure and reward. Such positive experiences have proven to reduce the risk of depression.

Read this article about how when you give and share to improve others’ lives you may improve – and lengthen your own.


I leave the car in the drive way and walk for groceries or to check mail. After two streets I have a good walking rhythm and my mind starts to clear.

Did you know that Fast walkers live longer? Read the outcome of this New Zealand Study here

Thank you for reading my tips! Giving them away has a positive impact on my self-esteem, life satisfaction and sense of purpose. These in turn contribute to my mental and physical health. Thank you again!

Carina – Oct 2019
When you are in a down mood at work – this is how you move past it

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