How To Maintain A Stable, Balanced Mood To Prevent Bipolar Depression
You may have heard the expression that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is so true when it comes to having bipolar disorder. Your best bet is to try and prevent bipolar depression before it happens. There is a lot you can do to maintain a balanced mood.
The more proactive you are when it comes to your own health and wellness, the less likely you are to slip into a depressive episode. When you engage in activities that promote the production of feel-good chemicals in the brain, you are a lot more likely to remain stabilized.
This requires dedication, commitment, and self-discipline – which isn’t easy, of course. But, it’s definitely worth giving it your best effort to try and stay balanced. Your brain will thank you for it!
Here are five suggestions for maintaining a balanced mood:
1. Take a Walk
I know, I know….. you’ve heard it before. Exercise is good for your health, blah, blah, blah. This is so much easier said than done when you struggle with stability. However; I encourage you to commit to walk for thirty minutes three times a week (or do more if you want to). I promise it will make all the difference.
You don’t have to be a power walker or set out to finish a half-marathon. Just walk! You can even do it in your pajamas in your neighborhood! (Who cares!) All you have to do is walk out your front door and walk 15 minutes one way and 15 minutes back. It’s easier than you think.
Walking is a meditative practice that powerfully affects the way the mind works. It also helps regulate those feel-good chemicals I have talked about. Doing this will get easier with time. If you make it a habit, it will become second nature to get out there and exercise.
2. Take Your Medication Regularly
If you have been prescribed antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or other types of medications to treat bipolar disorder, be sure you take them at the same time of day every day. Those of us with bipolar disorder are notorious for skipping meds or stopping them without consulting with the doc. Don’t do this.
If you have bipolar disorder and you are not taking medication, consider doing so. Antidepressants, for example, can significantly reduce the likelihood of slipping into a depressive episode. They can also shift your brain chemistry and help you move away from the bummer end of the bipolar spectrum if you are there now.
I cannot tell you how much meditation has changed my life. It was tough at first to quiet the chattering of my mind and sit still with myself. But, I just decided to stay with it. I work with a Zen guru, and he promised me it would get better. He was right.
Meditation has significantly reduced my mental chatter, chronic anxiety, irritability, and restlessness. It has helped to stabilize my mood and increased my sense of wellness. It has cured my insomnia. It can do the same things for you.
There are plenty of meditation instruction videos on YouTube. Check them out! You will find that meditating is really nothing more than sitting still with your eyes closed and taking deep breaths. Give it a try!
4. Stay Connected To People Who Love You
Studies have shown that social connections help us feel better about who we are. They bring joy and meaning into our lives. Staying in communication with people who care about us (even when we feel the need to isolate) helps to keep us grounded. Relationships with good people promote health and wellness.
Let people in. Be open about your difficulties. You will find that you are not alone. Even people who don’t have bipolar disorder struggle with loneliness, depression, anxiety, and stress. Talking about your experiences will help ease the burdens you carry. Pain shared is pain lessened.
5. Be Kind To Yourself
Those of us who live with bipolar disorder struggle with shame, guilt, and self-loathing. We can be incredibly hard on ourselves. Learning to love yourself and being patient with yourself goes a long way when it comes to managing this illness. When you are harsh and unforgiving toward yourself, you are inviting depression to come in and take up residence in your spirit.
If, on the other hand, you accept yourself and treat yourself with kindness, you open the door to a much more positive experience. Feeling good about yourself promotes a sense of well-being, which helps to regulate mood.
Eat right, do nice things for yourself, talk to yourself with positive affirmations, stay away from toxic people – just take good care of you. Remember – you are the only person you can never lose or leave. Since you are stuck with you, you might as well learn to enjoy your own company.
Some Words of Encouragement For Anyone Suffering From Bipolar Depression
I know what it is like to be completely hopeless, depressed, and even suicidal. As a Marine veteran, I very much struggle with a “suck it up” mentality. I also grew up in a family where I was told to “pick yourself up by the bootstraps.” For these reasons, I suffered years of unnecessary pain because I kept trying to fix myself by myself. In the end, I finally accepted that I couldn’t do it. I had to reach out for help. It was either that or kill myself.
Today, I enjoy life. I never thought it could be this good. When I finally got on the right medication, my whole life changed for the better. I still have hypomanic and depressive episodes on occasion. They seem to come out of nowhere with no real explanation. However; they are quite brief and very manageable. I recognize them for what they are, and I know what to do when they happen.
If you are currently in the midst of a real downer, I want to tell you to keep fighting the good fight. Hold on tight to the people who love you. Walk around the block. Watch television shows or movies you enjoy. Get plenty of rest, but not too much. Seek help from your doctor or see a therapist. Eat some good, healthy foods. Adjust your medication if you need to. Find out what works for you. Do whatever you can to get well.
I promise this will pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass! No matter how dark the night, the sun will rise again. In the meantime, keep fighting the good fight.