Self-Care Tips That Can Help You Stay on Track
| Guest Post by Ryan Rosen |
Living with bipolar disorder means getting to know your warning signs, and then taking action before a depressive or manic episode. And it also means that you have to take care of yourself even during the in-between periods. Prioritizing self-care can help you stay your healthiest, which can give you some stability during the ups and downs.
Here are some simple actions you can incorporate into your everyday routine.
Keep a Close Watch on Your Mood
Keep a log of your daily activities and how these activities affect your mood. You might find, for example, that driving a certain way to work makes you feel anxious or that taking on too much at work stresses you out at home. Maintaining a record (using your phone or old-school pen and paper) will help you identify triggers so that you can avoid them. Even if you can’t change things, knowing what lies ahead can help you get mentally prepared for turmoil.
Prioritize Sleep Hygiene
People with bipolar disorder tend to present with an overall negative mood when dealing with sleep deprivation. Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine explain that sleep affects men and women differently, and women are at a greater risk of experiencing highs and lows when dealing with sleep deprivation. So, look for patterns in your own sleeping schedule, and try to identify issues that keep you up all night. With your doctor’s assistance, you can come up with a plan to help you get the rest you need. This might include anything from changing your bedroom around to reducing outside noise and light intrusion.
Limit Stressors at Home
Stress is a bipolar trigger, there’s no doubt about that. BPHope magazine notes that there is an undeniable correlation between everyday stressors and the unwelcome symptoms of bipolar disorder. Because of this, limiting stress at home is an extremely important goal. A few ways to do this are to ask for help around the house, create a daily schedule, and make lists to keep yourself organized. Designating a private space to meditate — which should be as far away as possible from the ebb and flow of activity in your house — and reflect on your feelings may also help. Further, decluttering your home can also reduce stress.
Exercise Every Day
The benefits of physical activity are too vast to list in a single paragraph. Relevant to bipolar disorder, Reuters points to evidence that maintaining an exercise routine may increase the number of positive mental health days you experience each month. Things like running, riding a bicycle, and doing chores around the house can trigger your brain to release endorphins, a mood-altering neurochemical. Exercise can also reduce body fat, which can improve your health and help you feel better overall. When you feel well, that’s one less factor that can contribute to a depressive episode. Talk to your doctor before you start any new type of exercise; they can help you determine how often you should workout for optimal health.
Chances are, you take medicine for your bipolar disorder. Unless otherwise directed, you should continue to take your prescriptions as ordered. One thing you should not do, however, is self-medicate with illegal drugs and alcohol. While these substances may give you a temporary increase in positive feelings, they also result in a larger gap between your ups and downs. Chemically altering your emotions can lead to dramatic mood swings, which can throw off your internal balance. If you feel like you need something to take the edge off, talk to your doctor about natural mood stabilizers such as valerian root and chamomile.
When you live with a mental health disorder, you have to take matters into your own hands to take control of the situation. Self-care, whether it’s having a quiet place at home, exercising, or sleeping well every night, can help you stay on track. And taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body.
Image via Pexels
About the author:
Ryan Rosen has six years of sobriety under his belt, and his goal now is to be an inspiration to others. He regularly shares his story and wellness practices at treatment centers, sobriety retreats, and other recovery events in his region. With RecoverySpark.org, he hopes to spread the word to many more.
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Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.