People who are successfully treating and living with their bipolar realize there’s no one-size-fits-all plan when it comes to behavioral, emotional, and psychological protocols. Here are ten habits of what has worked for them:
#1 They’ve created their own treatment plan
Through trial and error, these folks have created a personalized treatment plan that works for them. For one person, focusing on therapy for the mind may work, while someone else is better treated with a certain medication. All treatment—pharmacological, therapy, and lifestyle—needs to be designed specifically for you.
#2 They rally a supportive team
First off, they are not afraid to ask for help and understand they need the assistance of others when they can’t help themselves. They know that support comes in many forms; perhaps they’ll join a support group, either online or in person. Successful people living with bipolar also nurture their support team—staying in contact, communicating, and expressing deep appreciation for their help.
#3 They practice mindfulness
A 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 whole host of health and disease outcomes; new studies demonstrate what’s happening to the brain in order to produce these beneficial health effects. It shows that meditation reduces Interleukin-6, an inflammatory health biomarker, in high-stress adults. Other people may practice a movement-based form of mediation, such as yoga, swimming, or walking.
#4 They know their triggers and have a plan
As with mania, knowing what stressors leave you vulnerable to depression can help prevent recurrences. Work-related stress, sleep disturbances, and traumatic life events can all be triggers, and having a plan to help prevent minor symptoms from turning into a full-blown episode is vital. Successful individuals have put together a comprehensive plan, usually with the help of their spouse and/or family. They understand how to recognize the beginnings of either depression or mania and what they will do in such cases.
#5 They have a healthy diet and exercise regularly
Whether they find it challenging or not, they know that having a healthy lifestyle—eating well and moving more—is a crucial complement to a treatment plan of medication to maintain mood stability. Studies now prove that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to have certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, making a nutrient-dense diet all the more important.
#6 They have good sleep habits
For people living with bipolar, sleep is found to be a significant cause of stress. We know that sleep problems don’t just affect mood, they can also be the cause. People who are successful with their bipolar treatment plans know to keep a steady rhythm throughout their day . . . going to bed and rising the same time each day and following the same bedtime routine.
#7 They stick to a schedule/routine
The schedule itself is personalized to each individual, but the point is they stick to their set routines—especially for the important aspects like their medication protocol, exercise, diet, and sleep. They know that by doing something regularly, like brushing one’s teeth, it soon becomes second nature and doesn’t take willpower to stick to it.
#8 They pay attention to their thoughts
They are aware of the loop that links bipolar depression, anxiety, and negative thinking and work hard at breaking free of this; they learn to shift out of negative modes such as catastrophic escalation, pessimism, and destructive self-talk and instead choose a more positive and practical outlook to almost every situation.
#9 They are grateful
They understand that gratitude has a strong association with well-being and that practicing this state of being has a positive influence on their mood, relationships, outlook, and overall happiness—all of which can protect against anxiety and depression. Some people have found it helpful to keep a daily journal and write what they are grateful for every day.
#10 They keep a journal
Whether it’s charting their moods, diets, exercise, or even what they’re grateful for, the simple act of writing it down somewhere (or typing for that matter) does something to further instill the subject matter to memory. Besides its validating and therapeutic benefits, writing one’s thoughts down in a journal can be meditative as it forces one to think only of certain thoughts and not about everything at once.
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