Managing Better in the Workplace

There are lots of reasons why you may sometimes find it difficult to be your best at work. Some of those may be down to what is happening with your work load and responsibilities, or physical changes in your work place. Other times it may be because of what is happening in your personal life or with your body.

There are so many reasons that your symptoms could be triggered. A combination of things may add up to impact you where one or two things alone would be fine. As we’ve already covered – you can best manage your symptoms when you understand what might happen as a result and then put in place ways to manage the situation.

I would encourage you, if possible, to be open with your employer about your health concerns. There are things they may be able to do that will support you to take fewer sick days and to work better when you are at work. That’s a win for everyone! 

Some scenarios that may impact your might include:

  • a stressful project deadline or increase in workload
  • a workplace refurbishment, with new carpets, paint and chemicals
  • a cold or flu going round the workplace
  • work patterns that result in disruption to regular meal times
  • change in responsibility or role that means you don’t get any time to take a breather
  • home pressures, such as a new baby or other caring responsibilities that take more time and energy, or leave you with less sleep
  • moving house so your commute is longer
  • loss of a close friend or relative, divorce or other major life change
  • hormonal changes, monthly or lifestage
  • ageing!

These are just some of the many ways your life and work can make it harder to cope with your Gilbert’s Syndrome. Equally, there are many ways you can help yourself better cope with Gilbert’s Syndrome!

I was always clear with my colleagues that, although I really looked after my health and would rarely fall sick, if I got flu then I would take longer to recover than other people. Being clear about your health in advance means that you can then take the time you need to recover properly.

I used to force myself back to work too soon after an illness, and I would often relapse and have to take more time off. Although it can be frustrating and you may feel guilty – you may find it a better longer term solution to get properly well before you go back to work. If you work with a computer it can now be easier to stay on top of work without having to endure the physical stress of commuting and sitting in an office, which can help you ease back to work as you recuperate. Another option is to stage your return to work and do a couple of days whilst you build up your strength.

If you are likely to be put in a situation that may cause you concern, then you can have a conversation with your employer. If they already know that you have a health condition that affects how your liver works then they are pre-prepared to help support you.  

I have negotiated with my employer to remain out of the office whilst it was being decorated and re-carpeted, in order to avoid triggering my Gilbert’s Syndrome. I knew I needed to do this as I had previously had terrible experiences with paint and new carpet fumes, causing nausea, diahorrea, with exhaustion and brain fog. It worked! I experienced no illness and didn’t need to take time off work sick. 

Be a problem solver, plan where you can. There are so many possible solutions!

  • Maybe working from home a few days, if you can, will help with the commute or caring responsibilities, and give you more energy to deal with the days in the workplace.
  • Maybe find a shift pattern that works with your best energy levels – perhaps it’s early morning or late afternoon for you.
  • Schedule intense work or draining work for when you have most energy.
  • Take food with you so you can eat when you should and not skip nutritious meals.
  • Take a bathroom break and deep breathe for a few minutes if you need to quickly recharge.

If your employer has occupational health support you could ask for an assessment to get input on how to manage your health and work. They will be able to suggest reasonable adjustments that your employer could make to help you do your job.

My video story:

Text of my video story

Having any kind of chronic health issue can make it really hard to navigate your work / life balance. You can feel anxious or guilty, and like you are letting people down when your health isn’t great. It took me decades to find the right approach that means I am up front and confident about how to give my best to my employer. 

I used to avoid the subject and pretend I was fine. This ended in a cycle of constant illness. It didn’t work for anyone. 

It took years for me to work out how to be honest with myself and others, and learn what my boundaries were. Over time I managed my health better and better. I went from taking off more days sick than most, to taking fewer days of sick than most. 

The hard learned secret to my success was to understand my condition, what was happening in my body, and to be clear that I faced these challenges to other people. If people don’t know you are struggling with an invisible chronic health problem, then they have expectations of you that you may not be able to meet. Be clear on what your problems are and demonstrate that you know how to manage them. Taking a pro-active and solutions focused approach will work for you and your employer. 

Your workplace is much more likely to adapt and support you to succeed when they know how to do so. It’s a win win for everyone. 

I’m pleased to say that I can share with you how to have those conversations and that this course can give you the background information you need to take control of your symptoms. I know it works and that you can live a healthier and happier work life, working with your employer. 

Here’s a download for you on how to talk to your employer about your health and get the best response

In the UK your employer is obliged to make reasonable adjustments if you consider yourself to have a disability. For more details on employment law check this out:

Work / life balance

Getting the balance right between work and the rest of your life is a much covered topic. You will find lots of advice about this on the internet or in books. It has become a popular subject as science now recognises that achieving a balance is good for productivity as well as you and your long term health and wellbeing. Employers are much more open to this concept, now that it has been shown to lead to healthier, happier and more productive workers.

This article gives a good outline of the issues involved and why it’s an important thing for workers and managers to think about

Many employers are now thinking about chronic health problems. This is because so many people now have conditions such as diabetes, joint and bone (such as back problems), or mental health problems, which impact their daily life. They also recognise that having a family and caring responsibilities mean workers must be able to deal with other pressures. Flexibility around these factors means employers can get the best workers and the best out of their workers. This gives many more people the opportunity to create a work life balance that works better for them.

This is a helpful guide that focuses on mental health, but is relevant for everyone

You have more opportunities now, than ever before, to manage your health and wellbeing alongside your work life! Try out some changes and you could find that you feel better than ever.