Through careful observation, you will learn what you need to do every day to keep yourself well. You will also gain the ability to recognize external events that may trigger an increase in symptoms, and you will be better able to spot early warning signs of an episode and symptoms that indicate you are in trouble. With this knowledge and perspective, use the tools listed here and others you have discovered for yourself. You will be able to develop a system for monitoring and responding to symptoms that will help you keep your moods stabilized. This system should include:
- Daily routines you need to follow to stay well, such as eating three healthy meals, getting adequate sleep, limiting or avoiding alcohol and exercising regularly.
- A plan for coping with external events that can trigger symptoms, such as an argument with a friend or an unexpected bill, and ways to cope with these events and keep them from causing or worsening your symptoms.
- A way to spot early warning signs, such as irritability, changes in sleep patterns or anxiety, that indicate your symptoms may be worsening.
- A way to recognize symptoms that indicate real trouble, such as reckless behavior, isolation or suicidal thoughts.
- A response plan for dealing with warning and/or trouble signs; concrete actions you can quickly take to stabilize your situation, such as calling a doctor, therapist or trusted friend, or arranging a brief hospital stay to stabilize your mood.
The following practices may help you to maintain wellness as you develop a system for monitoring and responding to symptoms:
- Attend a local DBSA support group regularly. If there is no group in your community, call DBSA and we’ll help you start one.
- Talk to your doctor, therapist or other health care professional regularly, especially when you are having trouble.
- Share talking and listening time with a friend often, especially during difficult times.
- Do exercises that help you relax, focus and reduce stress.
- Take a walk each day regardless of the weather. This keeps you in touch with the elements and connects you to the world around you.
- Develop problem-solving skills you can depend on.
- Participate in fun, affirming and creative activities.
- Record your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
- Create a daily planning calendar.
- Limit alcohol and avoid illegal drugs.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule.
- Improve your diet. Avoid caffeine, sugar and heavily salted foods.
- Seek opportunities to be exposed to light.
- Try to maintain a calming, safe environment.
- When you are confronted with troubling circumstances, stop, analyze your situation and make a positive choice.
Content Provided by Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Website