Work vs. Life Balancing Tips

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Balancing a number of roles can be difficult, whether those roles are being a parent, partner, friend, employee, student, sibling, child or whatever else. At times, these different roles can compete for your time and attention.
I have listed some tips and strategies here that you might find helpful.

Tips for work-life balance

If you have taken on a new position (paid or unpaid), remember to pace yourself a little – it is easy to be enthusiastic and do more than is required, particularly when starting something new.  It is not unusual to want to please your boss and co-workers, or to be so excited about a new project that you become totally obsessed with. Again, try to pace yourself.  This will help ensure that other roles in your life are not neglected.

  • Use structure to provide some boundaries and routine.  For example, maintain some separation between work and home and try not to take work home with you. This will also give you a chance to wind down more effectively and relax after work.
  • Keep your regular sleep-wake cycle, that you have during your workdays, the same on your days off as well. To help keep your internal clock regulated, continue to get up within an hour of when you do during the week.
  • Plan to exercise, and go out with friends in the mornings to help keep this routine.  This can also help reduce feeling frustrated over having done nothing for the weekend.
  • Review how you are spending your time.  You might already keep some sort of a diary, or you could just note down how you spend your time over a 2 week block.  Look back at where your time was spent – it might show that there are important areas of your life that you would like to dedicate more time to.
  • Work and home life demands can fluctuate from time to time.  Being aware of the need for flexibility can be important in maintaining a healthy balance.
  • If you have been asked to take on some additional task (such as more work), think about what that will mean for you. How will you fit that in with your other tasks and roles?  Writing down the advantages and disadvantages of keeping things as they are vs. taking on the extra work can help.
  • Try to make schedules regarding things that you want to get done in a day. Be realistic though. Don’t put something like, “Monday from 6:00PM to 8:00PM; Read entire ‘Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy.”  instead write something like, “Monday from 6PM to 7PM; Read 30+ pages in ’50 Shades of Grey.”
  • Figure out what you want your priorities to be, not what you think they should be. Ask yourself, “If I could only focus on one thing in my life, what would it be?” That answer is your top priority. What would you focus on second? Third? Fourth? Fifth? You’ve now identified your top five priorities.
  • Try taking an hour out of every day to focus on yourself and just relax. Take some “Me” time.
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ADHD/ADD Signs and Symptoms

A person with ADHD/ADD may have some or all of the following symptoms

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ADHD/ADD

  • Difficulty paying attention to details and tendency to make careless mistakes in school, or work or activities; producing work that is often messy and careless.
  • Easily distracted and frequently interrupting ongoing tasks by noises or other things that other people tend to overlook.
  • Inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities.
  • Difficulty finishing schoolwork, paperwork, projects or performing tasks that require concentration.
  • Frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another.
  • Procrastination
  • Disorganized work habits
  • Forgetfulness in daily activities (for example; missing appointments, forgetting to get or eat lunch or other meals, etc..)
  • Failure to complete tasks such as homework, chores, shopping, projects etc..
  • Frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one’s mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations
  • When talking to someone, forgetting what it is that you were saying mid-sentence.
  • Hyperactivity
  • Always moving, shaking or rocking back and forth. Pretty much always in motion.
  • Fidgeting and feeling jittery
  • Impatience
  • Answering a person’s question(s) before they even finished asking the question(s).

Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar I

Having this type of bipolar disorder means you have experienced at least one manic episode.  The mania needed to have lasted for at least a week, or to be severe enough that hospitalisation was necessary.  For about 50-60% of people with this type of the disorder, they will also experience depressive episodes.  Frequently these occur immediately before or after a manic phase.


Bipolar II

Having this type of bipolar disorder means you have experienced at least one hypomanic episode and at least one depressive episode in your lifetime.  The period of hypomania needs to be for at least 4 days.


Mixed Episode

Having a mixed episode means you have experienced both symptoms of mania and depression at the same time, with symptoms lasting for at least a week.  Feelings of sadness, irritability, agitation, and euphoria can all occur together at the same time.


Bipolar Disorder with Rapid Cycling

This type of bipolar disorder means that you have a diagnosis of either bipolar I or II and that you experience 4 or more episodes of illness in a year.  These episodes can occur in any order.  Someone might experience an equal number of manic and depressive episodes over a year, for another person they might have 3 episodes of mania and only 1 of depression over this time.

Common Early Warning Signs of Mania or Hypomania

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The list below is of common early warning signs that may help you recall the changes you experience when a manic/hypomanic episode is about to occur.  If you find it difficult to identify your early warning signs, you might discuss this with a trusted friend, family member, therapist or doctor. They can give you helpful feedback about what changes they notice in your behavior when you are in or beginning an episode of elevated mood.

Some of the most frequent early warning signs of mania have been found to be less sleep and increased activity.

Here are some examples of common early warning signs of elevated mood:

Changes in behaviour

  • –  more focused on goals and projects
    – start more new things, projects or plans at one time
    – making lots of new friends
    – more energy
    – more activity
    – more outgoing
    – disagree more with others
    – talk faster/more talkative
    – speech may be louder
    – changes in sleep – sleeping less than usual but not feeling tired, waking during the night, staying up later than       normal

Changes in feelings

  • – lots more energy
    – feel more self-confident and self-assured than usual
    – feeling like you can do anything
    – an increase in sex drive (hypersexuality)
    – irritable
    – anxious
    – feeling very important and special
    – feelings of euphoria and elation

Changes in thoughts and perception

  • – colors may seem brighter and more intense
    – lots of new ideas, projects, goals and plans
    – thoughts of being more attractive to others
    – experience hallucinations or delusions (in mania only)

The Difference Between Mania and Hypomania

The major difference between hypomania and mania are that hypomania is briefer and less intense than mania.  Hypomania is not associated with psychosis (loss of touch with reality or hallucinations) or hospitalization. Full blown mania is more severe and at times, requires hospitalization.

Elevated Mood in Mania or Hypomania

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The changes that occur when your mood is elevated (and when becoming elevated) happen in three related areas – in your thoughts, your feelings and your actions.  When your mood is elevated, your activity in these three areas can be very uncharacteristic of how you are when you are well (at your baseline/stable mood). Sometimes individuals who experience mania may report having hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that no one else can see or hear), or delusions (interpreting things in the world differently from ‘normal’ people).

These changes might occur gradually (building up a little bit at a time), or may be more sudden (out of no where).  For some they tend to occur following a depressive episode.

An elevated mood can be a seductive thing, with feelings of being overly self-confident and feeling elated. However, the fallout from an episode of mania can have devastating consequences. Such as realizing that you blew your whole life savings, noticing that you maxed out all your credit cards, and for women: finding out that you are pregnant or that you contracted an STD due to hypersexuality which tends to happen during manic/hypomanic episodes.

In mania and hypomania, there is a cycle of energy that can become more and more severe as your mood increases.

You can find yourself pursuing more and more projects and ideas. However, none of these projects usually get completed. the energy levels in a manic/hypomanic episode are such that it can be hard to stay focused on one task for any period of time. You might also find that you tend to do more things you find enjoyable, such as shopping, gambling, or socializing.  Doing more things increases the energy and fuels the cycle to spiral up even further.

Within this cycle, there are a number of factors at play that interact with each other, and the things happening in your life, to feed the elevated mood cycle. These relate again to three key parts of your experience:

  • How you think
  • How you feel
  • How you act

Common Early Warning Signs of Depression

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The list below of common early warning signs might help you think of the changes in your mood that you may notice. If you find it difficult to identify your early warning signs, you might consider discussing it with a trusted friend, family member, or your doctor. This may be helpful for gathering feedback about any changes they may notice.

Common Early Warning Signs of Depression

Changes in behaviour

  • withdraw from others
  • don’t go out as much
  • don’t answer your phone
  • hard to get up in morning
  • changes to sleep pattern such as hard to get to sleep, waking in middle of night and having problems returning to sleep, getting up out of bed later than usual, sleeping more than usual, taking naps during the day.
  • harder to get going
  • changes in appetite

Changes in feelings

  • feeling slow and sluggish
  • feeling hopeless and/or helpless
  • feeling down and sad
  • feelings of guilt and/or self blame
  • having little or no interest in sex
  • feeling tired
  • feelings of agitation
  • feeling irritable
  • feeling numb
  • feeling like you just can’t be bothered or  get motivated
  • not interested in things that you usually love or like to do
  • not able to enjoy things as much

Changes in thoughts

  • thinking is slowed and more difficult
  • hard to concentrate
  • self talk is critical and blaming
  • difficult to think things through and make decisions
  • lots of worrying thoughts
  • thoughts that repeat over and over again
  • thoughts of self harm
  • thoughts are negative about self, others or future