6 things you can do to lower your anxiety with bipolar disorder
This was a stressful week, and it got me to thinking about how to reduce your stress levels with bipolar disorder.
At home, we are struggling with two additional health issues for my aging parents. One needs surgery, the other received bad news with no clear direction of what to do next.
As always, my job added to my stress load. From clients refusing to send me missing documents to a boss suffering from the birthday blues, it was a tough few days.
Since I love adding stress to my life, this week I also took part in a talk on Medium Day. The first ever Medium Day was an amazing experience, but it sent my anxiety level through the roof. I spent the eight hours before my presentation pacing the floors and fighting tummy troubles.
Stress is a killer, and this is especially true when you have bipolar disorder.
Changes in routine, schedules, or added events can make the problems worse. So how do you cope?
Here are six things I did to ease my stress load.
1. Control what you can
The first way to cope with times of high stress with bipolar disorder is to control the things you can. Minimize triggers and look for ways to find more peace.
When everything else feels out of control, you need stable things you can depend on. Like an anchor holding a ship in place in a stormy sea, the things you can control will give you a solid footing.
- Stick to a sleep schedule
- Eat your meals at regular times
- Follow your regular daily routines and treatment plans
Keeping the bulk of your life the same gives you less worry about.
2. Prepare ahead
The second way to combat times of high anxiety with bipolar disorder is to prepare ahead. Pick out outfits and plan menus so you’re not burdened with making decisions on the fly.
As part of my Medium Day presentation, I read a story. To help reduce my stress level, I practiced reading the article aloud several times. When it was time to read it before an audience, I felt less anxiety because I knew the words well.
3. Have the right people in your corner
The third step to handling times of high stress is the have good helpers in your corner. My Medium Day presentation was with Glenna Gill, and I knew she was professional, prepared, and ready to back me up. It would have been so much harder without her.
We all need a support team, so hold tight to the people who make you feel better about yourself.
Sometimes this also means walking away from the ones who love drama. Drama is stressful, so it’s okay to leave it behind.
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4. Remember, it’s okay to say no
The fourth thing I did to cope with my high levels of anxiety was to start saying no.
This month has a full schedule. I had to accept that no matter how much I want to do, there’s only so much energy to give.
To protect my mental health, I decided to say no to anything new for the next few weeks. I’m not taking on any new projects, speaking appearances, or social outings.
I’ll need all the time I can get to keep myself balanced and stable, so that means saying no to everything else.
Sometimes people won’t understand why you’re saying no, but they don’t need to understand. Your job is to take care of you, whether anyone else gets it or not.
5. Get moving
The fifth thing I do when my anxiety level is high is to put my body in motion.
The day of my online presentation, I hopped on the elliptical machine about every 25 minutes. I only walked for 3-5 minute increments, but that activity helped to relieve some of the stress I was feeling inside.
Anxiety can make you feel like you’ve got a box of compressed springs locked inside you. As the pressure mounts, you feel like those springs are about to burst out of you, destroying everything in their path.
To release your internal pressure, you need to use up some energy.
For me, getting on the elliptical helps, but so does getting outside and walking. Nature provides its own soothing soundtrack, with bird singing and wind rustling leaves. The sun warms your skin and calms your muscles.
6. Take your medication
The sixth way I manage my anxiety with bipolar disorder when it feels out of control is by taking more medication. Working with my care team, I have a small supply of anti-anxiety meds to help me through the worst day.
I hate taking it because I know it can lead to a depressive cycle. But when my anxiety is so high I’m struggling to do anything, then I have to do whatever it takes to keep myself safe.
If you have medication for anxiety, don’t be afraid to take it. You would never want to abuse it, but it should be a tool in your mental health toolbox. When the time calls for it, don’t be afraid to use the tool.
As I write this, my stress levels are closer to normal. My Medium Day presentation went great. Both of my parents are doing fairly well, and everything necessary got done at work. I even was able to keep up with all of my online content, though some went out a few hours late.
That’s what you have to do, too. Anxiety is normal with bipolar disorder, and especially when new things are thrown your way. Try to keep from stressing out over the things that are outside your control.
When your stress levels go sky high with bipolar disorder, remember to:
- Control what you can
- Prepare ahead
- Have the right people in your corner
- Remember, it’s okay to say no
- Get moving
- Take your medication
Bipolar disorder makes it harder to live with anxiety, but you can win this fight as well. Take the right steps to reduce your stress levels with bipolar disorder, and it will all go well.
Until next time, keep fighting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What are some of the ways to cope with high stress levels in bipolar disorder?
A: There are six ways to cope with high stress levels in bipolar disorder: Control what you can, prepare ahead, have the right people in your corner, remember it’s okay to say no, get moving, and take your medication.
Q2: How can preparation help in reducing anxiety related to bipolar disorder?
A: Preparation can help reduce anxiety by limiting the number of decisions you have to make in stressful moments, which can help to lower your overall stress level.
Q3: Why is it important to have the right people in your corner when dealing with bipolar disorder?
A: Having the right support system can make managing bipolar disorder less stressful. These are people who can provide emotional support, empathy, and practical help when you need it.
Q4: How can physical activity help manage anxiety in bipolar disorder?
A: Physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones, which can help to reduce anxiety and improve mood.
Q5: Is it okay to take medication for bipolar disorder?
A: Yes, if prescribed by a healthcare provider. It can be a useful tool in managing extreme anxiety and should be used as directed by your care team.
Q6: Is it okay to say no to things when dealing with high stress levels in bipolar disorder?
A: Yes, managing your energy and stress levels is essential when living with bipolar disorder. It’s okay to prioritize your mental health and say no to things that could add unnecessary stress. You may also need to say know when noise makes you irritable.