Mental illness of any sort can be difficult during the holidays, and bipolar disorder is no exception. It’s not surprising that an influx of holiday gatherings and commitments can lead to additional stress and exhaustion – easily creating increased anxiety or depression. However, there are some proactive steps you can take to reduce these triggers and hopefully find some enjoyment throughout the holiday season.
Here are some of the most effective ways to reduce common triggers:
Maintain your routine.
With so many festivities and commitments, the holiday season can quickly take you out of your routine and put you on a downward spiral. Studies indicate that those with bipolar disorder do best with a set schedule when it comes to sleeping, eating, exercise, etc. This is because maintaining a regular routine helps to keep mood changes at bay. While you can certainly partake in holiday parties or travel plans, try to keep your general schedule consistent so you don’t fall off track. If you find yourself becoming overcommitted, take a step back and scale down your calendar. Remember, it’s always OK to say “no” for the sake of your own mental and physical health. Not every holiday-related event or activity is important. Pick the obligations that matter most to you and limit yourself to those commitments only.
Find more ways to reduce stress.
While reducing stress levels is always important, it’s even more critical to engage in stress-reducing activities during the holiday time. There’s no denying that things like hosting holiday dinners or caring for children home from school can cause unnecessary stress. In the midst of the hustle and bustle, make a point to treat yourself to activities you enjoy, such as a massage, dinner out, or a movie night with friends. Along these lines, it’s also a good idea to reduce stress related to holiday shopping. Rather than deal with the crowds at the mall, consider buying your gifts online or creating your own DIY gifts. The more you can relax and eliminate sources of stress, the less likely you’ll be to let your triggers get the best of you.
Increase your number of check-ins.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to regularly check in with your therapist and those who care about your well-being. Because it’s easy to feel lonely and isolated during the holidays, you must make an effort to foster your relationships with family and friends. It’s also best to make sure you stay on schedule with your therapist appointments so that any new issues you experience during the holidays can be addressed before they get out of control.
The key to all the tips above is to focus heavily on your own self-care so that you stay grounded and able to adapt to change.
Are you ready to take control of your bipolar disorder this holiday season? Consider the help of an experienced therapist and get in touch today with Joseph Montaldi, LCSW, based in San Antonio, Texas.