For many people with bipolar around the world (and even those without), winter can bring shifts in moods. As someone who lives in Michigan, I definitely notice a change in my energy levels when the winter months arrive. I take special care to mitigate episodes, and for a few years now I have managed to dodge potential depression during winter. Here are my methods to doing this successfully.
- I have mentioned this in other posts of mine, but I am a strong believer in the power of journaling. When someone mentions that journaling is a hard habit to stick with, I suggest choosing to have the journal physically near you. I toss mine in a tote bag, leave it next to my bed, and even carry it with me throughout the day. Journaling can be fun, too! Try using gel pens or stickers to enliven your entries. I’d recommend Moleskines or the Hypothesis Notebook Series, the latter of which has gorgeous covers. Mine has a photo of the Earth at night (taken by the International Space Station) on the front.
- Having a routine and not too much idle time is a must, at least for me. If I have too much time to spare, this sometimes leads to overthinking and brooding on my problems. When I choose to pick up a book, call a friend, or fill my days off with some sort of activity, I am benefiting from mental stimulation. Whatever brings you joy and adds to a productive routine is a great way to boost mood in the winter months.
- Maintaining a social life during the winter months is crucial. Even if you are an introvert (I most definitely am), spending time with friends and family can be an outlet to express your concerns about mental health, as well as just a way to gain fond memories from your time together. With my friends, I love to go get boba tea and shop at the mall. My family time consists of giving recaps of our days and chilling on the couch at night. Whatever kind of socialization is comfortable for you, take care to keep it up during winter.
If you haven’t used these methods in the past, I hope you consider doing so now. In my mind, all of these contribute to self-care, which is so important while living with bipolar disorder. As winter plows on, prioritize respecting yourself and making allowances for changes in energy and mood level; know that it is natural to experience, but you have the power to chase mental wellness as best as you can. I’m rooting for you!