By: Sam Bowman
For many, living with bipolar disorder can feel like a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, ins and outs. People who have the disorder experience extreme mood shifts, taking them from extreme highs down to extreme lows. These changes in mood can greatly affect behavior and ultimately make it difficult to live a normal life.
Fortunately, there are actions that can help people manage bipolar disorder with the aim of mitigating the extremeness of mood swings. A multitude of different types of bipolar disorder can be treated with medication, psychosocial therapy, and a set of behavioral changes.
Certain hobbies and self-care strategies can make a profound difference in an individual’s ability to manage bipolar disorder. Incorporating these into life, even in small amounts, can really add up to make mood swings more manageable and interrupt life a bit less. Developing some of these strategies and incorporating hobbies can even make life more fun in general.
Small Acts of Self-Care
Perhaps the biggest thing you can do to begin managing bipolar disorder is to incorporate small acts of self-care into your life. One big one is getting into a regular routine. Routines are known to help manage stress, stabilize moods, and create a feeling of calm as you work through your daily routine. Regular morning and evening routines including similar meal times can be linked to numerous mental health benefits.
Another small act of self-care involves meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a profound means of collecting your thoughts and feelings, processing them, and ultimately letting them go. Different focuses of meditation can also help manifest certain feelings. For instance, meditating on things you are looking forward to and things that make you happy can help instill feelings of excitement and joy. Sometimes even thinking about smiling and encouraging yourself to smile can release stress and increase positive feelings.
Finally, staying active in any way possible can also be considered a small act of self-care. The activity and its intensity don’t have to be extreme to experience the positive benefits. Plenty of research shows that something as simple as going on a daily walk can boost moods and minimize stress levels. In conjunction with activity, it is also essential to recover with plenty of good-quality sleep. Again, research indicates that sleep is far more important in managing our moods than many of us think.
Hobbies in Nature
In today’s high-functioning, metropolitan society, it can be difficult to remember to make time for the natural world. However, doing so and especially developing hobbies in nature can be an exceptional means of managing moods, relieving stress, and releasing positive hormones in the body. Many experts suggest eco-therapy as a treatment for these very reasons.
Things like hiking, biking, gardening, and even just sitting outside soaking up the sun can contribute to positive vibes all around and help to fight feelings of anxiety and depression. Outdoor hobbies such as fishing, camping, or raising chickens can play a valuable role in managing bipolar disorder.
Being outdoors with another being — even a non-human being — can also be an incredible way to stabilize your mood. For instance, spending time and working with horses can be a great means of improving mental health. Some research suggests that even 15 minutes with a horse increases feel-good emotions. Developing a relationship with another being can also feel easier than with another human. Animals have a means of being there for us without question or needing an explanation, which is a profound relationship to be a part of.
A little bit of self-care, especially if you can develop hobbies around self-care strategies, can go a long way in helping to stabilize your mood and better manage your bipolar disorder. Things such as getting into a routine, meditating, getting physical exercise, being outdoors, and spending time with animals all help substantially. Hundreds of hobbies can be found within these foundational goals that can make incorporating them into your life easier than you ever imagined.