Keeping stress levels low is a key component to coping with bipolar disorder. Too many people with bipolar disorder will turn to unhealthy forms of self-medication with over half experiencing addiction in their lifetime. Stress can exacerbate the mood swings experienced by people suffering from this mental illness, meaning stress-reducing activities can be a very healthy and beneficial way to make living with bipolar disorder easier. Here are a few ways to lower stress levels among people living with bipolar disorder:
Consistent exercise is an important part of anyone’s life. It improves the health of both the mind and the body. In bipolar people, it’s an ideal way to relieve stress. Since set routines are so important for those who are living with bipolar disorder, it becomes much easier to simply add exercise into that routine. A few good forms of exercise might be swimming, yoga, or even just a morning walk. For people with busy work schedules, “Deskercise” can be a good replacement.
Meditating or Praying
Any form of mental focus that allows the mind to drop whatever it is worrying about is good for stress reduction. The goal of meditation is to empty the mind entirely, making it an ideal method of releasing one’s grip on stress. Prayer can be a very soothing thing if a person is religious, shedding their worries and passing them on to their religious figure. Yoga is also a great form of “meditation” if you want to combine exercise with meditative practice, effectively killing two birds with one stone.
Eating a Balanced Diet
Eating an unhealthy, standard American diet can have a negative impact on anyone. However, it is especially important for those who are living with bipolar disorder to eat well, reducing stress to the body and increasing the potential for balanced moods. Avoid fatty foods, red meat, and carbohydrates. Include fish or fish oil as some studies have shown evidence that fish oil can improve symptoms of bipolar disorder.
You should also be sure to moderate caffeine intake. Suddenly stopping caffeine can have a negative effect as well, meaning it is important to reduce caffeine levels slowly. Eating consistently, at the same time each day with a similar variety of healthy foods, reduces the likelihood of unnecessary stress. Eating more nutritious foods and reducing any excess body fat can also work to limit stress.
Preparing a Response Plan for an Episode
If a person suffering from bipolar disorder feels prepared to handle an episode, they will experience less anxiety and stress from being around others. They should know the symptoms of both a depressive episode and mania so that they can put their plan into action and feel in control of themselves.
Find Fulfilling Work
An overly stressful job can sometimes exacerbate symptoms of bipolar disorder. If you think your work is contributing to your depression, consider moving into a career that is more fulfilling. For example, if you enjoy gardening, you might look into getting a job at a local greenhouse. If you prefer animals to humans, you might start your own dog walking or pet sitting businesses. Or if you enjoy writing, you might try your hand at freelancing. These days many writing projects are made available via sites like Upwork and Craigslist.org.
If you or someone you love is living with bipolar disorder, consider learning more about Segal’s clinical study opportunities. Fill out the prescreen form below or call (877) 734-2588 for more information.