It seems many people dealing with bipolar tend to stick their head in the sand when it comes to things that cause stress and never work toward getting rid of the stressful situations or things that cause stress.

It's natural to want to avoid facing something that's upsetting, and we've all done it from time to time, but when you are suffering from bipolar disorder this can be much more dangerous. Avoiding stressors lets them build up over time until they snowball, until they trigger an episode that can cause real permanent damage.

Although it can be stressful to deal with the problem in the first place, facing it head on in a practical way will make your life much less stressful in the long run. What are some things that might add stress to you life and how can you eliminate that stress?

  • If you hate your job, look for a new one. This doesn't have to be a major undertaking or something that consumes all of your time. You can look over the want adds once a week, send out a few resumes and put out feelers through friends and associates in your industry. Just knowing you're taking measures to make an eventual change can make coping with your current job less stressful.
  • If major debts are hanging over your head, work on paying them down in small amounts. Even a few extra dollars each month toward each bill will make a difference over time. Take a look at how you spend your money and choose one thing each month that you will give up to save money (no movies for one month, no dining out another month, etc.). Take the money saved and use that towards your debts and you'll feel less stress each month because you'll have less bills each month. Write down in a notebook each day's expenses even small things like gum, sandwiches, etc.
  • Don't forget to forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Stress is sometimes the result of not being able to let go of the past. We fester about what happened last week or last month and can't get on with today. Worrying and guilt will often crank up our emotions and trigger episodes - let it go when you've made a mistake.
  • Family relationships can be one of the biggest sources of stress there is, but you can turn down the heat under them by recruiting others to help you. If you've been having trouble getting along with someone, you have a few options that will reduce your stress levels, including:  
  • Reducing the time you spend with them;
  • Asking a family member to help be a peacemaker, perhaps being a negotiator between you and whomever you are fighting with;
  • Suggesting a few sessions of group or family counseling to smooth out some of the conflicts you've been facing
  • As you review your every day life, you are sure to think of areas where ongoing stress is affecting how you feel. The key is defusing the stress before it mushrooms into something you aren't equipped to deal with. When it gets that bad, you could find yourself in an episode before you know it. By dealing with stress early on, you can reduce the tension in your life, which in turn will reduce the likelihood of stress-triggered episodes.

    Of course, I'm not saying that you'll never have another episode, but isn't it nice to think that by turning down the stress level in your life you can minimize the number of episodes you might experience?