Stress is a well-known trigger for mood episodes for people living with bipolar and can manifest as emotional, cognitive, behavioral and physical symptoms. And given that there’s a definite association between the symptoms of bipolar disorder and the stressors of everyday life, it’s crucial we learn how to manage this important emotion. Here’s where you may be going wrong in dealing with stress and stressful situations:
#1 Taking on too much
It’s all too easy to say ‘yes’ to things when others ask us to help or be involved with something. Even at work, we sometimes simply take on too much that is good for our physical and mental health. And when we have to deal with the added stress of living with bipolar disorder, we have to be careful in what we agree to and take on. Whenever possible, remove yourself from or say no to unimportant projects and situations or events that are known to be stress-inducing. Put yourself first.
#2 Not prioritizing your time
We all tend to say ‘yes’ to many things we don’t really have time for, which can cause stress on its own. But when we don’t have a clear idea of how our day will be spent in order to get what we need accomplished, this can cause anxiety, and lead to the start of triggering a mood episode. If we can’t remove things from our plate, then we have to start the day with an activity list of priorities and try not to veer from this plan. Even if we don’t get everything on the list complete, it will be less stressful knowing the most important things got accomplished.
#3 Not being organized
There’s nothing worse than being in the midst of a crisis—be it life or work—and you need to manage an unprecedented schedule and your home office or work office are in disarray. Your calendar has not been updated and you know you are missing some crucial appointments, but can’t find the scraps of paper. Take time every day to make sure everything – filing and appointments and even the desk is cleaned off. This organization will pay off when you need it most.
#4 Not moving more
Studies continually prove that regular exercise lowers the level of harmful stress hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol, while at the same time raises the level of good hormones, like endorphins that act as natural mood regulators. One of the best ways to capture these feel-good endorphins is through dance – put on some headphones or crank up the music in our kitchen and just get lost in the joy of the moment…dance, dance, dance.
#5 Not having fun
By expressing your emotions creatively, such as through music, art or writing can be a powerful way to turn negative emotions into positive ones and stave off the triggering of a mood episode. If you don’t already have something creative, explore and experiment as to what speaks to you. You may be surprised to find a love of painting, dancing, pottery and a passion for expressing yourself this way.
#6 Ignoring your body
If we make it a habit to pay attention to our body, mind, soul then it is easier to be tuned into what we truly need. If we can feel our anxiety level rising when taking too much on or being around the negativity of others, or we have been exercising less and eating more, it’s time to take a break and regroup. It’s time to say no to other commitments, meditate, eat better and move more.
#7 Taking no time for rest and relaxation
Practice deep breathing and mindful meditation to lower your body’s physical reaction to stress. This can be used during moments of particular anxiety throughout the day. There’s no right way to meditate: just be still and listen to your breathe, be aware of your thoughts; or try guided imagery and through headphones; or try yoga or tai chi, that combines controlled breathing and stretching while focusing your mind on something positive.
#8 Not getting enough z’s
Indeed, sleep can be one of the most important factors in your health; it be a two-way street in that too much stress can make sleeping more difficult while at the same time, a good night’s sleep can help reduce the negative effects of stress. Among other things, stress causes hyperarousal, and that changes the balance between sleep and wakefulness. Put sleep as your number one priority in combatting stress.
#9 Not asking for help
This could be asking your family and friends for help in alleviating the stress-inducing projects, activities or events you’re currently involved with. Or it could be an extra visit to your therapist to talk about your struggles and the best way to deal with the problem at hand. Trying to deal with stress all on your own only adds to the anxiety and dread.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community