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  • Writer's pictureMoe | Scarlet Plus

Navigating Bipolar Disorder: 5 Practical Strategies


Living with bipolar disorder presents its unique set of challenges, but incorporating certain strategies into your life can significantly ease the journey. Here are five Practical Strategies designed to help you manage your symptoms, reduce the risk of relapse, and reclaim the reins of your life.

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What is Bipolar Disorder?

At MindBodyPinnacle, we understand bipolar disorder as a mental health condition marked by significant mood fluctuations. These include manic or hypomanic highs and depressive lows, impacting sleep, energy, judgment, and clear thinking.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

  • Bipolar I Disorder: Defined by manic episodes lasting at least seven days, or by manic symptoms severe enough to require immediate hospital care, usually followed by depressive episodes.

  • Bipolar II Disorder: A pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes of Bipolar I.

  • Cyclothymic Disorder: Numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years.


Dealing with Bipolar Disorder: Simple Steps

Feeling down or out of control can be tough, but remember, you have power over bipolar disorder. Besides what your doctor or therapist gives you, there are lots of ways you can help yourself feel better and stay on track.

To live well with bipolar disorder, you need to make some changes. Just like people with diabetes take insulin or those avoiding alcohol to stay sober, if you have bipolar disorder, choosing what's best for your health is crucial. These good choices help you manage your symptoms, avoid mood swings, and take charge of your life.

The first step in managing bipolar disorder is getting the right treatment, like medicine and talking to a therapist. But, there's a lot more you can do every day to help yourself. Following these tips can change how your illness affects you, letting you control your symptoms better, stay well for longer, and bounce back faster from any mood swings or setbacks.


Tip 1: Be Active in Your Treatment

Being part of your own treatment is key. Try to learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder. Get to know the illness well. Look into the symptoms so you can spot them in yourself, and understand all the treatment choices you have. The more you know, the better you can handle symptoms and make smart decisions.

Work together with your doctor or therapist to plan your treatment. It's okay to ask questions or share what you think. The best way to work with healthcare providers is as a team. You might even want to make a treatment plan that lists the goals you and your provider decide on.

Here's how to make your treatment work better for you:

  • Be patient. Treatment takes time to work, so don't expect to get better overnight. Be patient and give it a chance to find what works best for you.

  • Talk to your healthcare team often. Your treatment might need to change as time goes on. Stay in touch with your doctor or therapist. Tell them if things get better or worse, and be honest about how you feel and any side effects from medicines.

  • Follow medication instructions. If you have medicine to take, make sure you take it just like your doctor says. Don't skip doses or change how much you take without checking with your doctor first.

  • Go to therapy. Medicine can help with some symptoms, but therapy gives you skills for your daily life. It can teach you how to handle your disorder, solve problems, control your mood, think differently, and improve how you get along with others.


Tip 2: Keep an Eye on Your Feelings and Moods

To keep feeling well, it's really important to notice how you're feeling. By the time you see clear signs of feeling super high or really low, it might be too late to stop a big mood change. So, watch out for small shifts in how you feel, how you sleep, your energy, and what you're thinking. If you notice something off early and act fast, you might stop a small mood change from getting worse into a big high (mania) or low (depression).

Understand Your Triggers and Early Signs

Knowing the early signs of getting really high or low is key. Write down the small signs you noticed before your mood changed a lot in the past. Also, figure out what outside things make you feel this way. These things are called triggers, and they can be stuff like:

  • stress

  • financial difficulties

  • arguments with your loved ones

  • problems at school or work

  • seasonal changes

  • lack of sleep

Recognizing these signs and triggers can help you catch and deal with mood changes before they get bigger.


Tip 3: Act on warning signs

If you spot any warning signs of mania or depression, it's important to act swiftly. In such times, it's helpful to have a wellness toolbox to draw from. A wellness toolbox consists of coping skills and activities you can do to maintain a stable mood or to get better when you're feeling “off.”

Develop a wellness toolbox

The coping techniques that work best will be unique to your situation, symptoms, and preferences. It takes experimentation and time to find a winning strategy. However, many people with bipolar disorder have found the following tools to be helpful in reducing symptoms and maintaining wellness:

  • Talk to a supportive person.

  • Get a full eight hours of sleep.

  • Cut back on your activities.

  • Attend a support group.

  • Call your doctor or therapist.

  • Do something fun or creative, or write in your journal.

  • Take time for yourself to relax and unwind.

  • Increase your exposure to light.

  • Exercise.

  • Ask for extra help from loved ones.

  • Cut back on sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.

  • Increase or decrease the stimulation in your environment.

Create an emergency action plan

Despite your best efforts, there may be times when you experience a relapse into full-blown mania or severe depression. In crisis situations where your safety is at stake, your loved ones or doctor may have to take charge of your care. Such times can leave you feeling helpless and out of control, but having a crisis plan in place allows you to maintain some degree of responsibility for your own treatment.

A plan of action typically includes:

A list of emergency contacts for your doctor, therapist, and close family members.

A list of all medications you are taking, including dosage information.

Symptoms that indicate you need others to take responsibility for your care, and information about any other health problems you have.

Treatment preferences such as who you want to care for you, what treatments and medications do and do not work, and who is authorized to make decisions on your behalf.


Tip 4: Connect with Others Face-to-Face

Having friends and family to support you is really important for feeling happy and healthy. Just talking to someone in person can help a lot with feeling down from bipolar disorder and make you feel more hopeful and motivated. The people you talk to don’t need to have all the answers; they just need to be good at listening. The more people you have who will listen to you, the better you can handle your mood swings.

Don’t stay alone! Having support from people close to you is key. You need folks around who can help you when times get tough. Being alone too much can make you feel depressed, so hanging out with supportive friends and family can actually make you feel better. Asking for help isn’t a weakness and it doesn’t make you a burden. Your loved ones care about you and want to help.

Join a support group for bipolar disorder. It’s really helpful to spend time with others who understand what you’re going through because they’ve been there too. You can learn a lot from what they’ve gone through and their advice.

Make new friends. Feeling lonely and isolated can make bipolar disorder harder to deal with. If you don’t have many people to support you, try to make new friends. You could take a class, join a group like a church or a club, volunteer, or go to community events.

10 ideas for making and keeping friends:

  1. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling.

  2. Volunteer to help others.

  3. Have lunch or coffee with a friend.

  4. Ask a family member to keep in touch with you regularly.

  5. Go to the movies, a concert, or a small gathering with someone.

  6. Reach out to an old friend by calling or emailing.

  7. Take a walk with a friend who exercises.

  8. Plan a dinner out every week.

  9. Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club.

  10. Talk to a counselor, therapist, or a religious leader.


Tip 5: Develop an active daily routine

Your lifestyle choices, including your sleeping, eating, and exercise patterns, have a significant impact on your moods. There are many things you can do in your daily life to get your symptoms under control and to keep depression and mania at bay.

Build structure into your life. Developing and sticking to a daily schedule can help stabilize the mood swings of bipolar disorder. Include set times for sleeping, eating, socializing, exercising, working, and relaxing. Try to maintain a regular pattern of activity even through emotional ups and downs.

Exercise frequently and avoid sitting for long periods of time. Exercise has a beneficial impact on mood and may reduce the number of bipolar episodes you experience. Aerobic exercise such as running, swimming dancing, climbing or drumming – all activities that keep both arms and legs active are especially effective at treating depression. Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of activity into your daily routine. Ten minutes here and there is just as effective as exercising for longer periods of time. Walking is a good choice for people of all fitness levels.

Keep a strict sleep schedule. Getting too little sleep can trigger mania, so it's important to get plenty of rest. For some people, losing even a few hours can cause problems. However, too much sleep can also worsen your mood. The best advice is to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

Healthy sleep habits for managing bipolar disorder

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.

  • Avoid or minimize napping, especially if it interferes with your sleep at night.

  • Instead of viewing screens or other stimulating activities before bed, try taking a bath, reading a book, or listening to relaxing music.

  • Limit caffeine after lunch and alcohol at night as both interfere with sleep.


Stepping Stones to a Brighter Tomorrow

The journey through bipolar disorder can feel like navigating a complex maze with unexpected twists and detours. It's a journey that's as individual as you, filled with both challenges and victories that weave together the intricate story of your life. Remember, you're not meant to walk this path alone.

Your Journey to Balance with MindBodyPinnacle

At MindBodyPinnacle, we recognize that the path to a healthier, more balanced life is a deeply personal one. That's why we're committed to standing by you or your loved ones at every step of the way. Our mental health professionals are here to offer the support, empathy, and tailored care you need to manage the ups and downs of bipolar disorder.



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