Stress can hit harder when you also deal with bipolar disorder; here are seven ways to cope:
#1 Do something relaxing
Take a luxurious and long bath; or, get lost in an activity that is mindless i.e. coloring, listening to soothing music, or watching a comedy special. The point is to do something that is a treat, maybe out of the ordinary but that does not provide much mental stimulation. Take some much deserved rest and relaxation.
#2 Practice mindfulness
Try not to get wrapped up in the problems of the past or the stresses of the future and instead focus on the present. Notice what you’re experiencing, moment-to-moment, without judging whether it’s good or bad. Ground your awareness in the present moment and simply notice your thoughts, even if they’re negative. You may find that your pressing urge diminishes as you discover a moment of peace.
#3 Simplify your life
Clearing out your house, schedule and work space will help keep your mind uncluttered. Take small steps to start reducing the amount of discord in your life. By finding a regular routine it will be less stressful and you’ll find it easier to balance things if you know what to expect. Even something as simple as organizing your medication will reduce time, stress, and errors. There are pill organizers, electronic reminders or phone apps to alert you when it’s pill time.
#4 Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
Try and stay disciplined about your sleep habits, striving to go to bed and awaken the same time every day. Getting a good night’s rest is crucial for regulating emotion, impulsivity, and risk-taking, as well other important jobs such as cognitive functioning. Healthy sleep also has been shown to decrease the risk for relapse. Be aware that getting too much sleep, as well as not enough can cause stress and aggravate your mood.
#5 Get moving
Beneficial changes occur in the brain following regular exercise. Exercise improves neurotrophins, a family of proteins that promote brain functioning. In fact, neurotrophins are among the most exciting new developments being explored by neuroscientists. Make sure to talk with your doctor about beginning an exercise program if you’re not physically active.
#6 Find a forest
Any activity in nature helps your mind and creates endorphins that fight irritability, stress and depression. Getting out of the house and into the outdoors will increase your oxygen intake and at the same time give you a fresh perspective. If you absolutely need an excuse to get outside, ask to take the neighbor’s dog for a walk or sign up to a walking group.
#7 Pet an animal
Studies have found that when people pet or interact with their companion animals, they are actually releasing good neurochemicals. For starters, they double the blood levels of oxytocin – which slows heart rate and creates a sense of calm and comfort. It was also found to boost levels of beta endorphins — natural painkillers associated with “runners high” — and dopamine, known widely as the “reward” hormone.
10 Ways to Clear the Clutter and Remove Bipolar Stress