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9 Healthy Activities for People With Bipolar Disorder

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health illness, which is sometimes known as manic depression due to its brain disorder elements. People suffering from bipolar disorder can experience mood shifts and go through extreme highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression). When individuals experience the depressive lows of this disorder, symptoms of hopelessness and despair may be extreme. Bipolar disorder is often long-term and extremely problematic because of how it affects behavior and actions.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there are specific kinds of bipolar disorder, which can be diagnosed. Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, rapid cycling disorder, mixed episode bipolar disorder, and substance and medication induced bipolar disorder are all specific types of the disorder.

These forms can be treated with bipolar disorder treatment.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

There is no single cause for bipolar disorder. Some reasons may be a combination of stress, chemical imbalances, or genetic links and variants. Additionally, recent studies show that emotional abuse may be a cause of bipolar disorder. Environmental risks and a history of childhood trauma (neglect, emotional abuse, or physical abuse) can be contributing factors. More severe forms of bipolar disorder in adulthood are strongly connected with evidence of childhood trauma. A person’s history must be taken into consideration when dealing with the bipolar disorder and developing a treatment plan.

Highs and Lows

Factors of bipolar disorder include a period of highs (mania), which is exemplified with heightened moods, narcissism, excessive aggressiveness, impulsiveness, recklessness, and the inability to focus due to rapid-fire speech or thought.

Additionally, when people suffer from low, depressive cycles of their illness they may feel intense feelings of sadness, anxiety, emptiness, guilt, irritability, insomnia, or suicidal ideation. Bipolar disorder moves back and forth between these two extreme “poles” of behavior, rarely reaching any sort of stable, middle ground that most people experience every day.

People suffering with bipolar disorder experience mood swings, although the range of these outbursts can vary by person and by the type of bipolar disorder. The severity of the illness may increase or decrease over time. Determining the specific kind of bipolar disorder can help find the best treatment plan.

Healthy Activities for Bipolar Disorder

If you live with a bipolar disorder and want to take on activities that help manage manic and depressive episodes, take a look at the following list.

These activities include everything you need to strike the balance you need to keep your mood calm.

1. Develop Consistent Routines

Developing a healthy, daily routine can help stabilize moods and establish order and calm. A strict routine should include incremented time that creates a steady rhythm for days and nights. They should include regular eating times, holistic activities, physical fitness, therapy sessions, sleep times, and reminders for medicine intake (if required).

2. Support System

Family-focused therapy is beneficial for a person suffering from bipolar disorder. Sharing symptoms and what to expect with trusted individuals, may help maintain healthy relationships, while improving stability, openness, and trust. Support systems may also help monitor harmful, reckless behavior. Whether through a treatment facility, therapist, support group, or friends, seeking help before a manic or depressive phase, may be life saving.

3. Physical Fitness

Establishing a physical fitness routine can help minimize stress levels, serve as a mood stabilizer, and improve overall health and wellness. Since exercise helps depression it may also ease symptoms during the onset of low, depressive phases of bipolar disorder.

4. Sleep / Rest

People suffering from the extreme phases of bipolar disorder may suffer from insomnia or sleep disorders.

This is dangerous because research shows that insomnia blocks healthy habits, like completion of daily routine tasks. Studies show that persistent insomnia may “precipitate mania (Malkoff-Schwartz et al., 1998), while depression may be precipitated by life stress in the form of stressful life events (Malkoff-Schwartz et al., 2000).” Finding holistic methods of erasing sleep disruptions, like participating in sleep clinics or eliminating caffeine and sugar, may help.

5. Psychotherapy / Counseling

Various therapeutic modalities may be used to help individuals suffering from bipolar disorder. However, cognitive behavioral therapy may be a great form of healing to be use in conjunction with medication. Bipolar disorder is partially influenced by an individual’s thoughts. Extremely negative emotions may bring on harmful behaviors like isolation or suicidal ideation (the most dangerous symptoms of bipolar disorder).

Rising behaviors, like impulsivity and rapid speech, may lead to manic episodes. In partnership with other treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can help create mood balance and steadiness.

6. Eco-therapy

Eco-therapy can help fight the worst bipolar symptoms like sluggishness, anger, stress, and unstable moods and speech. Outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, gardening, outdoor yoga, or walking can contribute positively to mood control and stress reduction. Eco-therapy activities also help minimize symptoms of depression. A research study at the University of Essex found that, “a group of people suffering from depression, 90 percent felt a higher level of self-esteem after a walk through a country park, and almost three-quarters felt less depressed.”

7. Meditation

Mindfulness training and meditation are techniques that allow the mind to rest and focus. Through breathing, relaxation, and posture and position, individuals may be able to help calm certain aspects of their behavior. While meditation alone cannot fix severe symptoms of bipolar disorder, it can help. Meditation may help people find deeper awareness of the intensity of their emotions and provide an outlet to separate.

8. Calm environment

Stress is one contributing cause of bipolar disorder. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “life stress is important in bringing on the first bipolar episodes.” So maintaining a calm lifestyle and finding a peaceful environment to inhabit is crucial. While people cannot predict stressful or traumatic life events, they can turn to mental health or medical professionals for help in controlling depressive or manic episodes.

9. Medication

Lithium carbonate is one of the most popularly prescribed drugs for long episodes of mania and depression, as it is related to bipolar disorder. However, patients must follow the rules dictated by their physician and treatment center when taking the medication. Additionally, physicians may choose to prescribe anti-convulsants and anti-psychotics (aripiprazole, olanzapine, and risperidone) if symptoms are on the more severe end of the spectrum.

Living with Bipolar Disorder

With the help of medical practitioners, focused treatment, and established routines, people suffering from bipolar disorder can live a normal, fully functioning life. Managing any mental illness is hard work, but with healthy activities and the help of others, any person with bipolar disorder can experience stability, satisfaction, and peace of mind.