Tangible coping strategies for bipolar disorder

Looking for practical ways to help you cope with bipolar disorder in your everyday life?

Read on to discover seven effective strategies for managing mood swings, reducing stress, and improving your overall wellbeing.

From establishing a routine to tips to seeking professional help, these tips will help you lead a fulfilling life while managing your condition.

1. Establish a routine

Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, but establishing a routine can help you manage your symptoms and improve your overall well being.

It is important to create a routine that works for you and your lifestyle.

This could include things like regular meal times, bedtimes, and exercise.

Here are some tips for creating a consistent routine:

  • Create a consistent sleep schedule – getting enough sleep is crucial for managing bipolar symptoms. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Plan out daily activities – having a schedule can help reduce stress and provide structure. Make a to-do list and prioritise tasks you need to get done for the day.
  • Find employment that has regular working hours – this will help you uphold a consistent routine, rather than having to move your schedule around to accommodate different shifts at work. If you need help finding a job that works for you, a Disability Employment Services provider like APM can help.
  • Set reminders for medication – taking medication as prescribed is essential for managing symptoms. Set reminders on your phone or use a pill organiser to stay on track.

2. Practice stress-reducing techniques

Stressful situations can trigger mood swings and make bipolar symptoms worse. Here are some techniques for reducing stress:

  • Deep breathing exercises – taking slow, deep breaths can help calm the mind and reduce anxiety in stressful situations.
  • Meditation or mindfulness practices – mindfulness meditations can help improve mood and reduce stress. Try a guided meditation app (there are even some free options out there like Smiling Mind) or attend a mindfulness class.
  • Regular exercise routine – exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Find a physical activity you enjoy and make it a part of your routine.

3. Build a support system

Having a support system that you trust and can communicate with honestly can provide emotional support and help you manage your bipolar symptoms.

It is important to build a support system that includes people who understand bipolar disorder, and include people in your support system who can provide help in times of crisis.

Here are some ways to build a support system:

  • Join a support group – connecting with others who understand what you're going through can be helpful. Look for local support groups or online communities.
  • Connect with friends and family – spending time with loved ones can provide a sense of belonging and support.
  • Consider therapy or counselling – talking to a mental health professional can provide additional support and guidance, and provide you with a tailored mental health treatment plan.

4. Monitor mood changes

Mood changes are a big part of life when you're living with bipolar disorder.

Ensuring you have a way to monitor those mood changes when you experience them can help you identify warning signs of depressive or manic episodes and adjust treatment plans accordingly.

Here are some tips for monitoring mood changes:

  • Keep a mood journal – tracking any changes in your mood can help identify patterns and triggers. Use a mood chart or app to record your daily moods.
  • Track symptoms and triggers – pay attention to changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and energy levels. Identify triggers such as stressful situations or lack of sleep.
  • Adjust treatment plan as needed – work with your health care provider to adjust medication or therapy as needed, based on any notable mood changes.

5. Avoid substance use

Substance use can worsen bipolar symptoms and interfere with your treatment.

This includes alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medications that are not prescribed to you.

Avoiding substance use can help you manage your bipolar disorder better and stay on track with your treatment plan.

If you feel that you need help to stop using substances, talk to your healthcare provider.

They can help you find the right resources to get the help you need.

Here are some tips for avoiding substance use:

  • Limit alcohol and drug use – alcohol and drugs can trigger mood swings and interfere with medication. Limit or avoid use altogether.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine – caffeine and nicotine can disrupt sleep and trigger anxiety. Limit or avoid use altogether.
  • Be cautious with prescription medications – some medications can interact with bipolar medication and worsen symptoms. Talk to your health care provider before taking any new medications.

6. Focus on self-care

Self-care is essential for managing bipolar symptoms and improving your overall well being. When it comes to taking time to look after yourself, consider these things:

  • Eat a balanced diet – eating a healthy diet can improve your mood and energy levels. Focus on whole foods and limit processed foods.
  • Get enough sleep – getting enough sleep is crucial for managing bipolar symptoms. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and practice good sleep hygiene.
  • Engage in activities that bring you joy – doing things you enjoy can improve your mood and reduce stress. Find hobbies or activities that bring you joy and make time for them.
  • Make time for relaxation – take time each day to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, or mindfulness. This can help reduce stress and improve your mood.

7. Seek professional help

Working with a mental health professional is essential for managing bipolar disorder.

A psychologist or psychiatrist can help suggest coping strategies tailored to your particular situation, prescribe medications if required, and offer support you can rely on to understand what you're going through.

Here are some tips for seeking professional help:

  • Research potential providers – look for mental health professionals who specialise in bipolar disorder. Read reviews and ask for referrals.
  • Schedule an appointment – make an appointment with a mental health professional to discuss your symptoms and treatment options.
  • Be honest and open – it's important to be honest and open with your mental health professional. Share your thoughts and feelings and ask any questions you have.
  • Be open to different types of therapy – different types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy or interpersonal therapy, can be helpful for managing bipolar symptoms.
  • Be patient – it can take time to find the right treatment plan that works for you. Be patient and kind to yourself, and keep communicating with your mental health professional.

Managing bipolar disorder can be challenging, however with the right coping strategies you can find ways to manage your symptoms and get back to living a fulfilling life.

If you need immediate support to manage your bipolar symptoms, give Lifeline a call on 13 11 14, or if you are in immediate danger, call 000.

Remember that you are never alone, and there is always professional help available.

With the right support and treatment plan, it's possible to effectively manage your symptoms and get back to living life on your terms.