Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition associated with episodes of extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
Symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person and can affect your relationships, work, and daily life. However, making a few adjustments to your everyday life can help prevent episodes and decrease their intensity and frequency. Here are five simple tips for living with bipolar disorder that will help you control your mood and manage symptoms when they arise.
5 Daily Tips for Living With Bipolar Disorder
The most helpful step in preventing an extreme episode is to keep track of your daily habits, patterns, and moods. By becoming more aware of some changes, you can increase your chances of stopping or decreasing the intensity of an extreme episode before it happens.
Keeping a daily log of your:
- Ability to concentrate
- Anxiety or stress levels
- Eating habits
- Energy levels
- General mood
- Seasonal changes
- Sex drive
- Sleep patterns
- Substance use
Keeping track of your lifestyle will help you identify triggers and notice symptoms.
Set a Routine
An unexpected chore or the stress of planning things last-minute can be a source of anxiety and stress. Thus, establishing a habit-based routine ensures you live a healthy lifestyle and prevents extra pressure. When going through a depressive outbreak, it can be beneficial to have a familiar pattern with healthy habits to fall back. Maintaining your routine helps prevent the episode from worsening while also helping you get back to a balanced mood faster.
In addition, make it a habit to reach out to someone you trust at least once a day to ensure you are okay.
Ensuring you get enough sleep is essential for everyone, especially if you live with bipolar disorder. Being sleep-deprived can trigger a mood episode, and sleeping less could also indicate the start of a manic episode. On the other hand, if you feel like you are sleeping more than usual, it could be a symptom of a depressive episode. Thus, it is helpful to monitor your sleep patterns to support yourself better.
If you struggle to fall asleep or get good quality of sleep, try these tips:
- Go to sleep and try to wake up at the same hour every day.
- Avoid screens for an hour before going to bed.
- Relax before bed by listening to tranquilizing music, reading, taking a bath, journaling, or meditating.
- Make your bedroom a calm, relaxing space.
- Associate your bed with sleep. Avoid doing work or watching TV in your bed.
Talk to your doctor or therapist if you notice a change in your sleep patterns.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
A nutritious diet and exercise are two of the most vital aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
We all know exercise keeps your body physically healthy, but it is also known to boost your mood. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, often called “feel-good” chemicals. Those chemicals are the reason many experience a “runner’s high.” In addition, exercising keeps your organs strong and fit, preventing disease or illness. Thus, try incorporating some physical activity into your day for at least 30 minutes. If you are starting, you can begin with something simple, like going for a walk or doing light stretches.
In addition to exercise, a balanced, nutrition-packed diet can help you feel mentally and physically better. Focusing on healthy food doesn’t have to be complicated. Stick to the basics like getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, choosing whole grains, and consuming lean protein, while cutting down on fat, salt, sugar, and refined carbohydrates.
Avoid caffeine as it can affect your mood—Limit coffee, tea, and soda. Chocolate also has caffeine, so while it can be tempting to grab a chocolate bar when feeling stressed or anxious, be mindful and eat it only in moderation. Alcohol and drugs also affect your mood, can interfere with your medications, and trigger mood episodes, so limiting or altogether avoiding them is better.
Limit Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are common triggers for episodes and symptoms of bipolar disorder. Thus, it’s crucial to be aware of your stress levels and keep them in check. Figure out how much you can take on and set limits accordingly.
Here are some tips for managing stress and anxiety in your life.
At work, don’t take on more responsibilities than you can handle—set limits on yourself. Take enough breaks. Let your colleagues know if you need help.
At home, consider what responsibilities, chores, and tasks feel stressful. Could you ask your partner or family member to get the groceries? Could you set up a system to help you stay on top of paying bills? How can you simplify your life so that you feel a little lighter?
Set boundaries with your friends and family. Being social all the time can be taxing. It’s okay to say no to an invitation, respond to your messages later, or leave a party earlier. You don’t have to be available all the time. Permit yourself to recharge.
Prioritize relaxation daily. The simplest way of doing this is to incorporate a meditation practice into your daily routine. Just 5 minutes can significantly affect your stress and anxiety levels. You can choose from the wide variety of paid or free guided meditations online, as per your preferences. Yoga is another practice you can do at home that helps you relax your mind. If you prefer, you could also go for a walk in nature. If you are interested in exploring something different, you could try art therapy, sound baths, or guided breathwork.
Make having fun a vital aspect of your life! Life is not just about surviving, working, and finishing tasks. Enjoy yourself. Spend time with friends who are good company, listen to music you love, watch a funny movie, or go out dancing. Try something new like taking a pottery class or a bachata class. You might find something new that you love doing!
While living with bipolar disorder sometimes feel like a rollercoaster ride, being more mindful about your daily life, routine, and habits can help you ride the highs and the lows with more balance. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating the right foods and exercising is beneficial in helping you feel your best mentally and is vital to one’s overall holistic health and wellbeing. In addition, prioritize your mental wellbeing by limiting stress and anxiety and incorporating daily relaxation and fun! Keep your mood balanced and track any symptoms or irregularities to help you prevent mood episodes. By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to feel a lot more in control of your bipolar disorder and live an optimal life!