How to Practice Self-Care with Bipolar Disorder
There are big shifts in mood caused by the disorder. The spectrum can interrupt your life.
The treatment plan for the disorder includes self-care.
In fact, in a 2017 study, researchers found that people with bipolar disorder who used self-care strategies had a better quality of life. They also had lower scores for depression, stress, and anxiety, and reported that bipolar disorder had less of an impact on their day to day.
Self-care can only be helpful if you practice it. In the middle of a manic episode, you may not be able to think about taking care of yourself. It can be hard to find motivation during a depressed episode.
Self-care includes getting a massage or haircut. There are a few things you can do to get started.
Treatment for the disorder often involves routines.
This is based on the theory that structure can have a beneficial effect, and disruptions to taking your medication and social routines can lead to mood episodes.
Your routine might include something.
- Taking your medication at the same time every day.
- Eating and sleeping at the same time each day.
- During the day, you can relax or hang out with friends and family.
Staying with routines requires accountability. A buddy system for daily or weekly check-ins is a good idea. A trusted friend or family member can help you stay accountable.
Depression and mania affect sleep in different ways.
You may not sleep at all during manic episodes. You may feel like you can sleep all day.
Poor sleep can put you at risk of having more manic or depressive episodes, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Getting into a regular sleep routine will help you sleep better. Take a few minutes to relax with a warm bath, a good book, or another activity when you are racing through your mind before bed.
The impact that manic and depressive episodes have on your sleep can be reduced by following your treatment plan for bipolar disorder.
Stress wears on everyone, but people with bipolar disorder are even more sensitive to its effects. Life stresses like relationship problems, an illness in the family, or financial strain can trigger symptom relapses, according to research findings.
Reduce stress by not taking on more than you can handle. It is an important step to take to maintain self-care, and it is easier said than done.
Schedule small breaks if you are feeling stressed. When major stress events happen in your life, be honest with your friends and colleagues about how you are feeling and how it can affect your condition management.
Try relaxation techniques like:
- deep breathing
- tai chi
It can be difficult to know when a disorder will end. Keeping a diary of your highs and lows can help you understand your condition.
You may start to see patterns once you have tracked your activities and symptoms for a while. You may notice changes in your behavior, such as manic or depression episodes.
- The level of energy.
- behavior patterns
You may be able to predict when you will shift from mania to depression.
A paper diary is one way to track your moods. You can also try an app like Moodfit, eMoods, or MoodPanda.
A simple walk outdoors might buffer the effects of stress and improve resilience, according to a 2019 study.
Yet it can be hard to get up and go outside to take that first step. This may contribute to a finding that up to two out of three people with bipolar disorder have generally inactive lifestyles.
Exercise is a great mood booster and has known benefits for bipolar disorder: It can help relieve depression symptoms and improve quality of life in people with the condition.
Even if it is taking a short walk around the block, try to incorporate some activity into your day. You can choose a type of exercise that will keep you motivated. You can add a social element to your exercise by relying on others.
Substance use can make bipolar disorder more complicated to treat. It’s likely to affect how well a person sticks with or responds to their treatment plan. It can put them at higher risk of hospitalization and suicide, according to SAMHSA.
Between 30 and 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder will develop substance use disorder at some point.
Understanding the connection between the two conditions is important.
If you feel that substance use is complicating your management of bipolar disorder, you need to speak with your primary doctor about how to reduce or stop your substance use.
Self-care includes building a circle of friends and family who you can rely on during times of need.
Keeping your support network informed and up to date can provide a safety net during crisis situations. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests creating an action plan and giving copies to everyone who may be involved.
The plan can include some things.
- Your warning signs and episodetriggers.
- Addresses and phone numbers have been updated.
- Things that have helped in the past.
- The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-TALK.
If you have a doctor and a mental health professional on hand, you can be prepared for an episode.
Support doesn’t always have to come in human form. Pets can also be comforting companions during stressful times. The benefits of pets for people with chronic mental health conditions are even backed by
You can incorporate these general tips into your routine to help manage manic and depression symptoms.
When you are in a manic state.
- Press pause. Take 5-minute breaks during the day to breathe deeply. This may help with impulsivity and decision making.
- Avoid added stimulation. Try to stay away from foods containing caffeine, as well as environments with loud noises, bright lights, or both. Caffeine can be especially disruptive to sleep routines.
- Set limits. Even if you feel like you can do 10 things at once, try to stick to one at a time. Finish one project before you start the next one.
- Schedule time to relax. Practice deep breathing or meditation to help slow a racing mind. If you’re new to mindfulness, start with just 5 to 10 minutes each day.
- Call a friend. Reach out to someone you trust when you need help.
When you are in a depression.
- Change your environment. Sometimes the first step — like getting out of bed — is the hardest, but just the simple act of moving can give you momentum.
- Talk with a real person. Try turning off your computer or closing social media and call a friend. Better yet, meet them in person if you are able.
- Tidy up. It’s easy to let things pile up during a depressive episode, but clutter can have a negative effect on your mental state, according to a 2016 study. Try clearing up just one space at a time.
It is important to practice self-care when you have a disorder. Self-care can help improve your quality of life.
Pick one or two self-care strategies to start. A friend can help keep you accountable. Try adding something else once you make these practices part of your routine.
Your care team should be involved in your routine. When you need more support, ask your doctor and therapist to help you.