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Bipolar disorder is an enervating condition that can rob you of your peace of mind. If you live with bipolar disorder, you know how difficult it can be to manage the highs and lows. You may cycle through periods of elevated mood — also known as mania — or swing into depressive lows that make it challenging to function.
Managing bipolar disorder often involves various forms of treatment, and it may take a while before you find what works best for you. Aside from seeking treatment, there are other practices you can engage in to help with your symptoms. Something that can help people living with bipolar disorder is practicing self-care.
Why It’s Important to Practice Self-Care
Self-care involves taking care of your overall well-being. Some areas of self-care that one can strengthen include:
While the media often depicts self-care as fun and luxurious, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes self-care looks like doing complicated or mundane tasks.
Practicing self-care is essential for your mental health. It can help you learn to love yourself and put your needs first, which can be difficult when you have bipolar disorder. It can also help you show up as your best self and increase your self-awareness.
Since physical and mental health is connected, taking care of our physical needs often positively impacts our mental well-being. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, practicing self-care can help manage stress, lower the risk of illness, and increase energy. Ultimately, reducing stress is crucial to managing bipolar disorder.
The Best Self-Care Practices for Managing Bipolar Disorder
When it comes to practicing self-care, it looks different for everyone; however, there are a few things most people with bipolar disorder need to do to prosper. These practices include:
#1 Sleep Hygiene
Having healthy sleep hygiene is crucial to managing bipolar disorder. Disruption of sleep cycles can cause extreme mood shifts and make it difficult to complete daily tasks.
Some ways to improve your sleep habits include:
- Having a consistent sleep schedule
- Creating a bedtime routine
- Using relaxation techniques
- Limiting daytime naps
#2 Monitor Your Mood
Tracking your mood can help you identify triggers or situations that impact your mood. If you’re receiving treatment, this can also assist your therapist in helping you learn to manage your symptoms. Additionally, there are numerous mood-tracking apps that you can download onto your phone.
#3 Do Things You Enjoy
With a mental health condition as complex as bipolar disorder, finding time to do things you enjoy is essential to staying well. When you’re experiencing a depressive episode, you may have little interest in doing anything. It could help to challenge yourself to try and do just one thing you enjoy.
Trying to manage your symptoms can take up a lot of your time,e and it may seem like there’s no room in your day for enjoyment. Make a list of activities you enjoy and create time in your schedule to indulge in them.
#4 Stay Active
Exercise has been proven to be beneficial for mental health. The mental health benefits of exercise are worth looking into. It can reduce depression and anxiety and improve your mood.
Even just 30 minutes of physical activity a few times a week has shown to be effective. Start small if you find it challenging to begin a workout routine. Try going on a 10-minute walk or practicing yoga.
#5 Manage Stress
Stress can be one of the main triggers of an episode. Everyone deals with life stressors, but for people with bipolar disorder, extra care must be taken to reduce stress as much as possible. One way you can minimize stress is by trying relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises or yoga.
#6 Create a Schedule
Having a structured routine is often an important part of keeping your mood stable. Routines can include eating, sleeping, and exercising at the same time every day. Many people with bipolar disorder find that when they deviate from their routine, it can cause mood episodes.
#7 Build A Support Network
Having a support network of friends and family who you can depend on when things get tough is important. They can help during a crisis or just provide a listening ear when you need it.
Take time to create a safety plan and share it with your support network. Some things to include in your safety plan are crisis warning signs, coping strategies, the contact information of everyone in your support network, and ways to keep yourself safe.
#8 Seek Professional Help
Mental health providers can also offer you support and resources. Allowing yourself to receive help is an act of self-care.
Therapy is one of the most effective forms of treatment for bipolar disorder. A therapist can help you learn healthy ways to cope in difficult moments and also assist you in managing your episodes.
Managing Bipolar Disorder
Taking care of your mental health isn’t easy. With a condition like bipolar disorder, it may feel like it affects every area of your life. Fortunately, there are steps you can implement to manage bipolar and keep your life headed in the right direction. Self-care is vital when you live with bipolar disorder. Following these strategies can help improve your symptoms.
Living with a complex mental health condition like bipolar disorder takes great strength. It’s not easy to constantly battle with your mind or to experience extreme shifts in your mood. These intense mood changes may be so severe that they impact your daily life. Implementing a few self-care strategies may ease your symptoms; however, if self-management tools don’t work, help is available. Here at Alter Wellness Care, we pride ourselves on being a high-quality mental health outpatient program. We treat various conditions like bipolar disorder through different treatment modalities. We’ll work with you to ensure you receive comprehensive mental health care. For more information about our programs, call us at (866) 311-3510.