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Tips for Managing Bipolar Disorder at Work


Other Tips for Managing Bipolar Disorder at Work continued...

Maintain concentration. See if it is possible to try any of these ideas:

  • Reduce distractions in your work area.
  • Use white noise or environmental sound machines.
  • Increase natural lighting or work with full-spectrum lighting.

Stay organized. Many people -- not just those with bipolar disorder -- use tips like these to stay more organized:

  • Make daily to-do checklists and check items off as they are completed.
  • Use electronic organizers.
  • Divide large assignments into smaller tasks. If possible, focus on one project at a time.
  • Ask about having written job task instructions.
  • Use a watch with an hourly alarm to remind you about specific tasks.

Develop team skills. It helps to accept that both you and others have limitations and that conflict is a natural part of working with others. It’s how you manage these conflicts that can make the difference. Deal with problems as they happen, rather than letting them build up. But focus on the problem, rather than pointing fingers at the person. At the same time, stay open to others’ ideas and try not to take constructive criticism personally.

Make connections with people and purpose. It may help you to remember that you are not defined by your illness and your work is not your whole life. Spending time with family and friends, planning fun get-togethers, volunteering with a charity -- all of these may help you find purpose. Also, have a support system lined up -- for good times and bad. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance can help you find a local support group.

Making job changes with bipolar disorder

Are you looking for your first job or needing to find a new one? If so, it will help to assess your skills, qualities, and life experiences. Make a list of what you bring to the table.

Or, perhaps you need to make changes at your present job or are returning to work after being away. Think about what you really need at work:

  • Can you work better alone than with a large group?
  • Do you need clear direction from others, rather than being self-directed?
  • Do you need more breaks?
  • What time of day are you most productive?
  • Do you need a different kind of job than you have currently or have had in the past?

Asking questions like these may help you get clear about producing the best work environment for you. As you probably know, many people with bipolar disorder struggle with impulsivity. So whatever you do, take your time to make big job changes. Talk them over with family, health care providers, and your therapist.


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