Self-care is a cornerstone of bipolar disorder management along with medication. Consider adding these self-care tools into your daily routine.
Bipolar disorder is a manageable condition. Medication is an important part of the treatment, but daily self-care is also invaluable in helping you stay well.
Self-care can involve a number of tools. These can help with emotional regulation and improving physical health. Identifying your triggers for mood episodes can help you prevent them.
As you think about adding some of these tools to your bipolar disorder management plan, consider making them part of your daily routine. Having a routine can help stabilize moods and help you feel well.
In addition to routines like taking medications at the same time, consider a daily mindfulness practice, eating nutritious meals, and engaging in exercise.
People with bipolar disorder are more likely to also have certain physical health conditions.
An example is metabolic syndrome (MetS) and insulin resistance, which are twice as prevalent among people with bipolar disorder than in the general population. MetS may also be connected to challenging BD symptoms.
Dietary changes can help improve physical health. Making nutritious choices may also help manage bipolar disorder by helping you with your symptoms.
- omega-3 fatty acids
- folic acid
The same review found probiotics and coenzyme Q10 held promise in bipolar disorder treatment. However, there isn’t enough conclusive evidence of their effectiveness yet.
Exercise can help improve physical and mental health.
Not everyone with bipolar disorder finds that exercise helps, but many do.
Exercise is known to relieve stress. It may also help with emotional regulation.
Exercising can raise your spirits when you experience depression and use up energy when you have an emotional high.
Movement practices such as yoga, as well as other forms of exercise like swimming or walking, can help to meet these physical and emotional needs.
A daily calming practice can give you another tool to help manage stress levels. This can help with emotional regulation and avoiding triggers of a mood episode.
A simple deep breathing exercise is one option:
- Place your hand on your belly.
- Slowly breathe in through your nose and count from 1 to 4.
- Slowly breathe out through your mouth and count from 1 to 4.
You can combine a calming practice with other tools of self-care for bipolar disorder. For example, you can breathe slowly while you do yoga, go for a walk in nature, or practice mindfulness.
Some people with bipolar disorder may live with maladaptive perfectionism. This is when a person feels their self-worth is closely tied to achievement. They could feel dissatisfied even when they meet their personal goals.
Research suggests the practice of self-compassion may help people with bipolar disorder to manage maladaptive perfectionism. Self-compassion is a way to relate to yourself with kindness.
More specifically, it replaces self-criticism with speaking kindly to yourself. Self-compassion also encourages you to be aware of your momentary experience instead of identifying with the experience of pain itself.
You may also try to avoid isolating yourself. Remember that you are not alone. Your experience may simply be a part of a common human experience.
A 2019 study found that the act of self-compassion can help you tone down the need for perfectionism. It can also help reduce your depression and anxiety and regulate your moods.
MBCT is a new type of psychotherapy that holds promise in improving mood regulation, anxiety, and depression in people with bipolar disorder. It may also help improve focus and executive control, but the evidence is not yet conclusive.
MBCT may help some people, but it may not be the right process for everyone.
In a small 2020 study, researchers interviewed 16 people with bipolar disorder to investigate the possible barriers to participating in MBCT.
For example, although MBCT may help improve depressive symptoms, those depressive symptoms may also act as a barrier to mindfulness training.
Even if MBCT is not an option, you could try simple mindfulness techniques on your own. By recognizing your thoughts, you may be able to focus more on your body. You may also be able to put space between yourself and your thoughts, allowing for more reflection and calm.
Connecting with others who have bipolar disorder can be an important part of self-care.
Hearing others’ experiences can help change the perceptions of what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder. You may find comfort when learning about how others have found the right medication after years of trial and error, or by knowing that everyone’s mood experiences are a bit different.
Consider finding an online support group or talk with a healthcare professional about finding an in-person option where you live.
Bipolar disorder is a condition you can manage with medication and self-care. A daily routine that integrates self-care tools like a nutritious diet, exercise, mindfulness, and connecting with a support group can help improve your well-being.
If you want resources to support your mental health and well-being, check out Psych Central’s Find Help page.