#1 Customize your own treatment plan
What works for one person may not work for the next. Those who are finding success in treatment often have created their own personalized wellness plan that works for them. For one of us, focusing on therapy for the mind may work, while another is better treated with certain medications plus a particular nutrition plan. All treatment—pharmacological, therapeutic, and lifestyle—needs to be designed specifically for you with the help of a professional.
#2 Get to know your triggers and prepare
Knowing what stressors leave you vulnerable to mania, depression, anger, anxiety, and so on can help prevent recurrences—if you have a plan. Stress, sleep disruptions, and different aspects of our lifestyle can all be triggers. Being prepared to prevent minor symptoms from turning into a full-blown episode is vital. Consider enlisting the help of family, friends, and your treatment team (doctor, therapist, etc.) to discuss a plan for when warning signs present.
#3 Move more and eat better
Admittedly, it can be challenging to put in the work for a healthy lifestyle, but when it comes to maintaining mood stability, it is a crucial complement to a treatment plan of medication. Studies now prove that we are more likely to have certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, making a nutrient-dense diet all the more important.
#4 Take sleep seriously
Science tells us that during sleep, the brain repairs and regenerates itself. Sleep is as important as eating, drinking, and even breathing. Problems with sleep are common with brain-based disorders, so it’s even more critical to address and resolve sleep disturbances and difficulties. We know that sleep problems don’t just affect mood; they can also trigger mania or depression.
#5 Journal everything
Whether it’s charting your moods, diet, exercise, or even what you’re grateful for, the simple act of writing it down or typing it up is more than just therapeutic. It’s the data you need to track what’s happening in your life to pinpoint the cause of any emotional imbalance. It’s also a good way to recognize the negative thought loops, so you can shift your thinking.
#6 Practice mindfulness
Research has proven that a regular meditation practice improves your ability to manage work, organize tasks, and focus in stressful situations. Over the past decade, mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve a host of health and wellness outcomes; now, studies are demonstrating how it produces beneficial health effects for the brain. For example, meditation reduces Interleukin-6, an inflammatory health biomarker, in high-stress adults.
#7 Connect with others
We are social animals; it’s in our nature to desire contact with others and to feel connected in order to thrive. A well-developed support team can be paramount. This support can come from friends and family, but also from peer support groups, either in-person or online.
#8 Expand your creativity
In recognizing our own creative ability, we have the power to live a more meaningful and purposeful life. Creativity doesn’t need to take effort; it can simply mean listening to music to help symptoms of depression or anxiety. Expanding our intellectual knowledge and increasing our skills in any area—reading, taking courses, free-drawing/doodling—can positively impact our lives and even improve focus and memory.