How to Succeed in School with Bipolar Disorder

October 20, 2016 Geralyn Dexter

School can be overwhelming and life with bipolar disorder can present additional challenges. Whether you are dealing with mental illness in high school or college, surviving school and keeping yourself healthy while doing it is possible. Adding some healthy habits to your academic routine can make all the difference. Here are some tips for setting yourself up for success.

Create Success in School with These Healthy Study Habits We want to succeed in school, but bipolar disorder can make doing so more difficult. Use prevention as a tool and these tips to help you succeed in school.

Get organized. Make study time a little bit easier by giving it some structure. Tackle a little bit every day. This will keep you from becoming anxious when things start to pile up (Overwhelmed by Stress and Anxiety? How to Deal with It). Write a list of the tasks that you need to complete. Break bigger tasks into smaller ones and prioritize what is urgent and what can wait a bit. Adopt a note-taking style that makes sense to you. Don’t cram. If it works for you, carve some time out of your schedule each day and dedicate that time to being solely for studying. Create a study space that is comfortable, clean, and has everything that you need at your fingertips.

There’s no need stare at your textbooks or laptop for hours on end. Take breaks when you need them. Work for a period of time and then take a short break. This actually boosts productivity and gives your brain a much-needed pause. Use your breaks for things like stretching, using the restroom, getting a drink of water and a healthy snack or getting some fresh air.

Even the best students struggle sometimes (Talk to Your College Student About Mental Illness). Learn to ask for help when you need it. You can reveal as much or as little as you like about why you need the help. Talk to your instructors and any other supports like friends or family. Let them know if you need extra time or special accommodations (Learning to Accept Help When Living With a Mental Illness). Do a little research and figure out your rights as a student and what types of resources are available to you through your school. Take some time off and seek help if you aren’t doing well. Your health is what matters the most. Asking for help doesn't mean you're not capable. It means making sure that you are able.

Maintain healthy habits. Never underestimate the power of adequate sleep, exercise, water, and healthy foods. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Drink water throughout the day and keep some at your study station. If plain water doesn't work for you, dress it up with fruits or cucumbers. Watch your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine can upset your mood. Keep healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, cheese, nuts or crackers handy. Exercise is a wonderful way to release stress and give yourself some natural energy, so don't forget to move your body.

Remember that building a habit takes time. Everyone has their own style of learning and everyone has their own experience with bipolar disorder. Be gentle and patient with yourself. When you find things that work, keep doing them. Consistency is key.

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APA Reference
Dexter, G. (2016, October 20). How to Succeed in School with Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Geralyn Dexter

Geralyn Dexter is a mental health counselor, writer, and advocate. She holds a Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling and is currently working on a terminal degree in Counseling Psychology. She is passionate about psychoeducation, increasing mental health awareness, reducing stigma, and helping others on their journey to wellness. Find Geralyn on Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Tumblr.

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