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wundayatta's avatar

How can someone with bipolar disorder reduce the impact of unavoidable work-related stress?

Asked by wundayatta (58321 points ) February 20th, 2010

People who have bipolar disorder need a great deal of stability in order to maintain their health. They have to go to bed at the same, early time each night. They need regular schedules. They need exercise regularly. They need to eat right. They need to avoid very stressful situations.

This last is not always under their control. Especially in some jobs. There can be huge stress at some times, and a need to work long hours or stay up late—in short, all the things that are very bad for them. But it’s unavoidable. You have to have money to put food in the cupboard and a roof over your head, and you don’t always have a choice of jobs. Often you have to take what you can get.

I’m looking for ideas. If work-related stress is unavoidable, what can someone with bipolar disorder do to minimize the effects of that stress?

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12 Answers

essieness's avatar

I don’t have bi-polar disorder, but I do have a chronic illness that requires me to keep my stress level low, or minimize the effects of that stress.

There are the obvious answers that you mentioned like a regular schedule, exercising, healthy diet, and so on.

But, (and I’ll probably catch shit for this), I have found what helps me more than anything is smoking a little bit of pot when I come home after a particularly stressful day at work. I’m not sure how you feel about marijuana, or even how it affects people with bi-polar disorder, but it sure helps me out.

DrC's avatar

Hey there…how are you? If you practice a small amount of meditation daily (mindfulness or otherwise), then eventually you will teach yourself how to relax yourself rather quickly. This comes in very handy when stress at work gets out of control.

YARNLADY's avatar

Ask the employer for ‘reasonable accommodations’ such as meditation time, or ‘de-stress’ time. I once worked for a company that had a fully equipped exercise gym on site for the use of the employees.

I recently read that exercise has show great promise in the treatment of bi-polar disorder.

marinelife's avatar

Keep a regular exercise routine. Not let it go out the window when the work is piled up.

Keep reasonable hours despite stressful times. Working to excess won’t end the work.

Try to put work out of your mind when you are out of work hours.

loser's avatar

This is a tough one for me. I carry Ativan with me in case I start to really get crazy. I’ve also told my boss about it so she knows what I’m sometimes having to deal with and we have codes so I can let her know that I might need some help/backup or just a time out. She also checks in with me and will ask if I’m okay. I’ve been pretty lucky in that respect. I still get stressed but just having someone else know about it sometimes helps right there. Sometimes it’s just a matter of Needing a few moments and letting the Ativan kick in.

Just_Justine's avatar

@loser can you still function well on Ativan? I mean drive and all that?

Just_Justine's avatar

@YARNLADY so would you recommend telling your “boss” I am beginning to think I should. Although I thinks she has her own issues so not sure.

nebule's avatar

I don’t know…but I find (and I’m not bipolar as you know… but still) asking myself “what kind thing can I do for myself right now?”

wundayatta's avatar

@Just_Justine What is going on with your boss? What are the pros and cons of telling her?

I never told my boss, although I think there’s a good chance he would be cool with it. He’s a very caring guy. Part of it is that I’m afraid. Sometimes there are adverse consequences. Another part of it, I think, is pride. My health is my business. I’ll deal with it, or I won’t. But I am hardly a good model for dealing with this disorder.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Just_Justine Yes, If you have any health related issues, particularly in the “disabled category” it would be in your best interest to notify your employer. However, beware who you decide to tell, your immediate supervisor is not necessarily the best choice.

loser's avatar

@Just_Justine I don’t have to operate any machinery heavier than a computer and I play with dogs.

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