Practicing Self-Care When You Work with Bipolar

March 10, 2021 Nori Rose Hubert

Let's talk about self-care as it relates to working with bipolar. As you know, self-care is a trendy topic. On the one hand, it's encouraging that more people -- especially folks with marginalized identities -- are recognizing that all people deserve to have their physical and psychological needs met regardless of external expectations, including those of our employers. The downside is that the conversation around self-care is often focused more on treating ourselves than building sustainable long-term practices to carry us through life's trials. Building and maintaining a good self-care routine is essential for everyone and is non-negotiable for those of us who live and work with bipolar disorder.

Why You Need Self-Care If You Work with Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is tough -- tough to live with, tough to work with -- but in the throes of the highs and lows, it's easy to forget that it is manageable. While professional mental healthcare is critical to bipolar management, the inconvenient truth is that we have to do a significant amount of the work ourselves by practicing good self-care. It's not only essential to our overall health and wellbeing, but it's also vital for managing our professional lives around this illness and achieving our goals. It is very difficult to maintain day-to-day functioning at work -- let alone build successful careers -- when we are riddled with uncontrollable mood episodes that leave us in the dark spiral of depression or the seductive yet dangerous highs of mania.

Unfortunately, self-care is often conflated with self-pampering. There is nothing wrong with treating oneself to a bath bomb or a manicure from time to time, but true self-care is a much more involved practice -- and it doesn't always feel good. Sometimes it looks like sitting down with a cup of tea and calculating all of the debt you owe and making a plan to pay it off, or breaking out a journal and getting brutally honest with yourself about what your goals are, what you're doing to meet them, where you've fallen short, and how you can get back on track. It can feel tempting to put these sorts of tasks off, especially when you're craving a reprieve from a mood episode. But they are necessary in order to take back the reins of your life from bipolar, including your work life.

5 Self-Care Tips For Working with Bipolar Disorder

  1. Get honest with yourself. It's time to get real about what's going on in your professional and personal life, no matter how uncomfortable it might be. Think about where you are, how you got there, and where you'd ideally like to go. Take note of the external factors you can't control and how you might be able to mitigate them, and the internal factors you can choose to change and adapt. We often have more power over our work, finances, and relationships than we give ourselves credit for. What do you think you're doing well? Where is there room for improvement and growth? How can you put the wheels for change into motion?
  2. Take care of the money you earn. I know that money is a sensitive topic for many people, but your labor is precious, and you deserve to get the most out of the money you earn. Invest in yourself by getting educated about saving, investing, and managing your money in a way that makes sense for you. There are many free resources online to get you started. Improving your financial literacy and becoming more empowered around money does wonders for your mood, too.
  3. Don't apologize for taking care of yourself. You don't owe anyone -- not even your boss -- an apology or an explanation for prioritizing your health and wellness. Use your personal time off (PTO) to take a mental health break if you need to. Say no to extra work that you know you can't take on. Politely turn down the invitation to a large overwhelming company party and spend a quiet night to yourself.
  4. Sleep, eat, and hydrate. Repeat. Do not neglect your basic needs, no matter how much pressure you feel to stay up late or skip meals to get your work done. Your body and your mind will thank you for it.
  5. Remember your inherent worth. Bipolar -- or any other disability -- does not define you or take away your inherent worth as a person. You deserve fulfilling work that pays well and values your contributions, regardless of whatever professional setbacks you may have experienced in the past, and you should not give up until you find it.

Let me know in the comments what self-care tips you recommend for working well with bipolar disorder.

APA Reference
Rose, N. (2021, March 10). Practicing Self-Care When You Work with Bipolar, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, March 5 from

Author: Nori Rose Hubert

Nori Rose Hubert is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of the forthcoming novel The Dreaming Hour. A lifelong Texan, she currently divides her time between Austin and Dallas. Connect with her on her website, Medium, and Instagram and Twitter.

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