Previously known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a type of mental health condition that accelerates severe, violent, and rapid mood swings. These sudden shifts in mood include ups, such as mania, and downs, like depression.
When you’re feeling manic, you may be full of energy and euphoric. But when your mood becomes depressed, you may feel hopeless and extremely sad. Unfortunately, these effects may affect not only your mood but also your activity, sleep cycle, and behavior.
If you or a loved one is experiencing rapid mood swings, it would be best to seek professional healthcare facilities that offer intensive treatments for bipolar disorder. They’ll help you understand that you can still remain in control despite your condition.
Living with bipolar disorder demands significant lifestyle changes. So, it’s crucial to make the right choices to help you manage your symptoms, keep them at bay, mitigate mood episodes, and gain control over your life.
A healthy life with bipolar disorder begins with the right treatment and medication. Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways that may improve your everyday living. The following strategies below will help you manage your symptoms to live healthily and well, even with this condition.
Healthy Living Strategy 1: Appreciate The Treatment Process
The first step to complete recovery and healthy living is getting engaged and involved in your treatment process. Research your condition thoroughly by diving into details and searching for valuable information about bipolar disorder.
Be well-acquainted with your symptoms so you can easily recognize them when they show up. In this way, you’ll be able to handle and take command of the situation and deal with your symptoms in the best way possible.
By conducting research, you’ll be able to work with your therapist or doctor effectively when planning your treatment. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify any confusion about the process, and speak up if you think there’d be problems.
Here are some tips to improve your treatment with your doctor or therapist:
- Be Patient: Don’t get your hopes high for an immediate healing process. The treatment may take time, especially when finding the right one for you. So, being patient throughout the process is important.
- Communicate With Your Doctor: Your treatment plan needs to be adjusted as your condition improves. Therefore, it’s essential to keep in touch with your doctor or therapist for possible changes. Also, be honest when it comes to your symptoms and other side effects brought by taking medications.
- Follow Instructions: If you need to take medications, it’s important to follow what your doctor has instructed you for maximum recovery. Never try to change your dose without your doctor’s approval, even if you think it’s not working accordingly.
- Get Appropriate Therapy: Medications may help you but only to an extent. It’d be best to get therapies to help you understand the aspects of living with bipolar disorder. These include improving your relationships, coping with problems, and regulating your mood.
Establishing a partnership with a healthcare professional will help you create a treatment program that will help you reach your goals as soon as possible.
Healthy Living Strategy 2: Know Your Mood Triggers And Signs
Knowing and recognizing the warning signs of impending manic or depressive episodes will help you better manage your condition. List all the symptoms you know from your previous episodes and identify what may have triggered them based on your experience.
Some triggers may include:
- Lack of sleep
- Work and school problems
- Financial distress
- Concurrent stress
- Arguments at home
Here are some warning signs of depression that you might want to consider:
- People continue to bother you
- Taking a lot of naps and sleeping during the daytime
- Craving sugary foods
- Caring about other people is not your concern
- Not wanting to bond or even communicate with friends
- Not wanting to cook your own food
On the other hand, warning signs for mania may include:
- Can’t focus or concentrate on school and work
- Reading tons of books at the same time
- Talking too fast as someone will apprehend you
- Always hungry
- Always irritated
Knowing these red flags may not be beneficial if you’re not properly monitoring your condition, especially your feelings. By keeping close tabs on yourself, you’ll be able to prevent such triggers and warning signs from ruining your daily life.
Furthermore, you may consider creating a mood chart to help you better monitor your mood and symptoms. With this, you’ll be able to record your sleep, emotions, weight, medications, etc. Also, it’ll help you identify patterns that signify incoming obstacles.
Healthy Living Strategy 3: Create A Wellness Toolbox
Identifying the red flags of bipolar disorder is not enough to manage your symptoms and mood swings. You’d need to establish a plan that will help you mitigate and control their occurrences, a wellness toolbox. It’s a set of helpful practices and coping skills that maintain your mood and help you get better if you’re not feeling well.
The practices and coping mechanisms you need to include in your wellness toolbox will depend on your condition, situation, symptoms, and preferences. Indeed, it takes a lot of time and patience to determine the right strategies.
Nevertheless, the following tools below are beneficial in mitigating symptoms and improving the overall wellness of many people who have bipolar disorder:
- Communicating with a positive and supportive person
- Get enough sleep, at least seven to nine hours per day
- Take a step back from your usual daily routine
- Join and participate in support groups
- Consult your doctor or therapist
- Create a daily diary or journal
- Get your feet on fun activities
- Set a time to relax
- Get yourself exposed to light and lessen the dark surroundings
- Engage in physical activities, such as daily exercises
- Always ask for help as soon as you need one
- Refrain from consuming caffeine-rich products, sugary substances, and alcohol
Healthy Living Strategy 4: Establish An Emergency Plan
Despite having a toolbox and mood charts, you’re still vulnerable to manic and depressive episodes. Therefore, it’s only important to establish an emergency action plan to keep you safe at all times. In addition, it’ll help you prevent feeling out of control and maintain a sense of responsibility during a crisis.
Here are the things you should include in your emergency action plan:
- Important emergency contacts from your family, close friends, doctors, and therapist
- Medications you’re currently taking and their dosages
- Symptoms that may require professional care
- Other health conditions that may turn up during an episode
- Preferred treatment policy that includes the one you want to look after you and make decisions for you and treatments you want and don’t want
Healthy Living Strategy 5: Make Fruitful Physical Connections
One of the keys to a healthy and happy life is a great support system. Even a simple face-to-face conversation with someone may significantly reduce and alleviate your symptoms of bipolar disorder. Not to mention how it boosts your perspective and motivation in life.
Also, it’s important to understand that people don’t have to fix you. Instead, they only need to listen clearly to what you want to express. The more people who will listen to you, the better you’ll be able to manage your moods.
Here are some tips that may help you reach out and foster great relationships and strong connections:
- Never Isolate Yourself At Home: A strong support starts in the comfort of your home. Reach out to your family and let them help you during the loneliest times. Isolation may only lead to depression. Therefore, a simple conversation at home is already therapy in itself. Remember, asking for help won’t make you look fragile and a burden to others.
- Join Support Groups: Spending time and communicating with people who have or had bipolar disorder before can help you feel better. Since they know what you’re going through, they’ll be able to provide advice to make your life better and easier despite your condition.
- Build New Connections: As discussed earlier, isolation can worsen your condition. Therefore, it’s important to have a strong support system that’ll help you. Here are some tips for building new connections:
- Perform volunteer work
- Attend church meetings
- Express your feelings to someone to lighten your burden
- Have coffee with a friend
- Dine out with your family or friends
- Call your friends
- Take a class or join a club to meet new people
You may also take online counseling if going out of your house seems a lot of work and may exhaust you easily.
Healthy Living Strategy 6: Develop Daily Exercise Routine
Performing regular exercise offers tons of physical and mental health benefits, from managing and stabilizing your mood to improving overall health. Staying healthy helps you avoid other conditions that may worsen your bipolar disorder, such as cardiovascular diseases and other chronic illnesses.
However, it’s important to consider other studies stating that even though exercise may relieve hypomanic episodes, it may worsen and promote manic symptoms. Therefore, it’d be best to closely observe how exercise affects your condition and which would be better for your case. For example, you may discover that performing yoga or light cardio is right for you.
On the other hand, a review conducted in 2016 has concluded that exercise is strongly linked to improved health conditions, such as depressive episodes and quality living. Nevertheless, more studies are required to identify the intensity and length of exercise people with bipolar disorder should practice in relation to psychological and physical factors.
Here are some physical activities you may consider performing and see if they fit your needs:
- Morning walks and jogs
- Meditative and calm activities, such as yoga and pilates
- Hiking and climbing
- Water exercises, such as swimming, water sports, and diving
- Walking with pets
Healthy Living Strategy 7: Follow A Healthy Diet
Diet is an essential and huge part of recovery not only for people with bipolar disorder but also for other physical and mental conditions. In fact, a study in 2011 found that more than 60 percent of bipolar patients are obese and overweight. Consequently, they have a higher risk of contracting other conditions, such as chronic diseases, than those who are not.
Having a balanced and healthy diet may help you prevent unwanted health conditions. It’s also important to keep a good eye on how you’re eating because a study in 2013 found that bipolar patients engage more in binge eating than the healthy population.
On top of that, doctors have no idea how bipolar disorder develops. But they strongly suggest that chemical imbalance could be one of its causes. These chemicals include serotonin, dopamine, and other hormones.
The chemicals produced by your body are linked to your eating habits. For example, low serotonin levels may stimulate your cravings to eat more carb-rich and sugary foods.
On the other hand, here are some tips for keeping to a balanced and healthy diet:
- Eat regularly at the right time
- Focus on a diet filled with whole foods, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, etc.
- Create a meal plan and STICK TO IT when making groceries
Healthy Living Strategy 8: Get Adequate Sleep
Getting adequate sleep is important for all people, especially with bipolar disorder. Insufficient and interrupted sleep cycles may cause manic and depressive episodes. Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge that excessive sleep may also cause serious mood problems.
Here are some tips for a night of healthy sleep to manage bipolar disorder and its symptoms:
- Go to bed and wake up at regular hours
- Keep your room comfortable. Ensure a low temperature and dim to no lights when sleeping. This will stimulate melatonin production to help you sleep better at night.
- Avoid drinking or eating caffeine-rich products in the afternoon and at night. They’ll only cause interference in your sleep.
- Avoid excessive napping and sleeping during the day
- Avoid using devices before bed, such as mobile phones and TV. Instead, read books and other calming and relaxing habits
Furthermore, you may consider using natural sleeping aids to promote good and uninterrupted sleep. You can purchase them in your local pharmaceutical stores, but it’d be best to consult your doctor first to avoid side effects, especially when taking other medications.
Living with bipolar disorder can make you feel hopeless and powerless. Nonetheless, it’s important to fight and keep moving forward despite its reactions to your body. Following the simple yet effective strategies presented above will help you achieve a healthy life.
Also, don’t forget to seek help, whether from your family, friends, or doctor. Never leave yourself alone. Remember, you’re more powerful than your condition, so step forward and continue moving forward.