By: John Poehler
April is Stress Awareness Month in the UK.
Stress is a huge trigger of bipolar disorder.
There is no way to completely get rid of stress. Noone lives in a bubble, but there are ways to reduce and manage the stress in your life.
How Stress Affects My Moods
For me, stress deregulates my mood. Extreme stress can trigger a full blown depressive or manic episode. Generally, I get manic.
For everday stress, my energy level and activity level are directly affected. Most of the time, it is in an adverse way.
It is important that I reduce the amount of stress in my life to a bare minimum.
Coping Skills to Minimize Stress
I utilize a number of different coping skills to minimize stress.
Everyone is completely different in their likes, dislikes and tastes.
One of the universal coping skills is exercise. Whether you enjoy a leisurely walk, a quick swim or a weightlifting workout, exercise can help to stabilize your mood and health. I am not saying you need to spend hours and hours exercising. In fact, you only need a minimum of 20 minutes to feel a positive benefit.
I try to meditate at intervals between five and fifteen minutes each. Meditation is such a wonderful and powerful coping skill because you can find relief after one session! If you are having trouble getting to sleep, try meditating before getting into bed.
Deep breathing is a great way to calm your nerves and put you in a state of relaxation. You can do this at any time you feel the negative consequences of stress taking you over.
To focus on deep breathing, lay on your back in bed or a semi-soft surface. Put your hand on your stomach and focus on breathing in and out. Make sure you are using your stomach to push your hand up and to let it fall.
When it comes to coping skills, I suggest putting a variety of these ideas in your toolbox. I utilize different coping skills for different degrees of stress. It is not as simple as using one skill every time.
Some of these coping skills are preventative and you can put into your daily routine. For example, I exercise each and every day as part of my treatment plan.
If you try these suggestions and they are not what you are looking for, keep searching and trying new coping skills. Maybe candles are your thing, perhaps a warm bath, classical music or a massage.
The point is to take advantage of these suggestions when you are in need and find a few of them to reduce and manage stress in the first place.
Some of the Things that are Stressors Because of my Bipolar Disorder
Your mind and body will react to stress the same way whether it is good or bad stress.
I feel emotions more deeply and react in a sensitive way because of my bipolar disorder. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is good to know.
Little things that do not bother an individual without bipolar disorder can get an overboard reaction from myself.
Having bipolar disorder, I have to be careful who and what I let into my life.
Again, I am not saying you have to live like a hermit. I just keep things simple and try not to overcomplicate anything in my life.
Please, just take care of yourself and make the best decisions you can.