Simple Lifestyle Changes To Manage Bipolar Disorder

Receiving a bipolar disorder diagnosis doesn’t have to uproot the life you’ve built for yourself. Individuals with bipolar are perfectly capable of leading normal, fulfilling lives. Besides sticking to the course of medication prescribed by your doctor and regularly keeping in touch with them, there are other simple lifestyle changes you can incorporate into your daily routine to manage your symptoms better. Even if you don’t live with bipolar, these are generally good habits to practice. 

Medical Treatment Of Bipolar Disorder

Treatment for bipolar disorder is usually administered and overseen by a psychiatrist but can generally incorporate a team of other mental health professionals, including psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and social workers. 

Considering bipolar disorder is an incurable condition you have for the rest of your life, treatment aims to manage a patient’s symptoms. Everyone’s experience with bipolar is unique, but generally, treatment plans will include one or more of the following:

  • Your physician will likely prescribe medications like mood stabilizers, antidepressants, or antipsychotics to help regulate your mood. 
  • Your psychiatrist might recommend attending a day treatment program where you’ll get all the support and resources you need to manage your symptoms. 
  • In severe cases when a patient becomes a hazard to themselves, such as suicidal ideation or experiencing a psychotic break, hospitalization is preferable so that individuals can be safely stabilized in a controlled environment.

In addition to psychiatric treatment, there are things people with bipolar disorder can do to improve their mental well-being, such as:

Stick To A Schedule

People with bipolar disorder greatly benefit from having a consistent, reliable schedule. It can be as simple as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, considering a lack of sleep can make those with bipolar vulnerable to manic or depressive episodes.

In addition to this, have a set time for taking your medication so that you don’t forget. A gentle reminder that feeling stable does not mean you should abruptly stop taking your medication. 

Keep A Mood Journal

Mood journals are a great way to keep track of your feelings every day. They’re the perfect tool for analyzing how your mood changes daily, and comparing it to your treatment to assess if it’s working for you.

It’s also great for jotting down any side effects of your medication. If you have all of this information written down in one place, you can present it to your doctor if you have any concerns over how your treatment is progressing. 

Eat A Balanced Diet & Exercise

Exercising regularly will have a significant positive impact on your mood and your sleep. If you’re someone who isn’t very active, to begin with, slowly increase the amount of time you spend working out every day until you eventually work yourself up to 30 minutes a day. Additionally, pair that exercise with a healthy diet packed with all the basics such as fruits, veggies, protein, and whole grains to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. 

Limit Caffeine Intake 

When you have been dependent on caffeine to function normally for most of your life, the idea of giving up on coffee, tea, or soda can seem unpleasant. Chocolate, a huge people pleaser, is also a source of caffeine and sugar that can make your body rely on those ingredients for energy. Remember to cut caffeine out gradually as headaches or fatigue from withdrawal can become overwhelming if done cold turkey. 

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Avoid Drugs & Alcohol 

Any substance, whether it’s drugs or alcohol, has the potential to interact with your medication and either cause a severe reaction or dilute the effects of your prescription so that they become less effective.

Substances also have the potential to trigger an episode in individuals with bipolar, making the disorder more difficult to treat. It’s best if you avoid them at all costs. If you’re curious to learn more about life with bipolar, click here.

Practice Stress Management Techniques

Stress can have a negative impact on your bipolar and even worsen your symptoms if you have bipolar disorder, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to try and relax as much as possible. Now, realistically, when we have to manage the stressors of our personal lives and our work lives, not being stressed seems like a distant reality.

However, the point isn’t to avoid stress altogether but to incorporate daily practices that help you manage it. Instead of binging your favorite tv show or scrolling endlessly on your phone, consider doing a bit of yoga or tai chi to release tension in your mind and body. This will make you feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the day. 

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Barbra Maranda

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