Summer vacations often mean enjoying much-needed time away from home. But, whether you vacation to tropical beaches or quaint cottages, the change in routine could prompt a re-emergence of bipolar symptoms. Which is why you need to be proactive in managing symptoms before they ruin your vacation. Here’s how:
#1) Choose your destination wisely
Be realistic about what you can handle adventure travel may not be the best idea —and where. Consider a location that’s “fairly temperate,” suggests Manuel S. Silverman, a clinical psychologist from Chicago. “I wouldn’t suggest going to Arizona or Southern California in the summer, or Minnesota in the winter.” And will your travels keep you close to emergency care? Leah N. skipped a family wedding in Argentina in 2012 because her psychiatrist was concerned she wouldn’t have access to appropriate medical help if needed.
#2) Set expectations
Before vacationing with family, Kerry B. of Pennsylvania talks with her husband about what kind of support she thinks she may need to maintain stability. “We talk about what’s going to help the trip go smoothly,” she explains, “and I make sure to ask my husband while traveling to help track my moods.”
#3) Join club meds
A few weeks before you leave, check your medication supply and get refills if necessary. Take along more than you need so you don’t get caught short if there are unexpected delays in getting home. If you’re flying, pack meds in your carry-on bag
#4) Have fun—within boundaries
There’s such a thing as being “overly conscientious” when you’re on vacation, says psychiatrist Joanna Cheek. After all, you want to have a good time and make good memories, or what’s the point? That can happen as long as you arrange your activities around the basics of self-care: wake up around the same time every morning, monitor how much social time you’re having, stay alert to signs of a mood shift, and so on.
#5) Have regular meals
Michael S. made sure to do this while at Disney World with his two children. “We always had meals around the same time every day, which is healthy in itself, but this also set up a routine that matched with sleep and exercise habits.” (Although as far as exercise goes, anyone who’s been to Disney World knows getting in lots of walking is no problem.)
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