Routines and Structure
This is an excerpt from my book Moorestorms Guide To Bipolar Self-Care. I think it’s such an important topic for all of us that I wanted to share it here with you. When having bipolar disorder and being a parent, routines and structure are not just important for our own mental health, but that of our children as well.
If you’ve ever been hospitalized for your mental illness you will have noticed that they pretty much keep to a tight schedule. You wake at the same time, eat breakfast, take meds, have group, have free time, eat again, have group, have meds and off to bed. It can seem boring and tedious and make for a not too pleasant stay if you have nothing to do during those free times. There is however a reason behind this and it’s to teach your body to stay on track. It is very important for our bodies to know and remember when it’s time to wake up, our meal times and to go to bed. This helps us maintain stability by getting the right amount of sleep and the proper amount of nutrition which I will talk more in depth about later.
It’s good for you to set up a routine of your own. It doesn’t have to be down to the last minute, but wake up times, bed times, meal times and medication times should all be the same every day of the week. What we do with our free time is up to us, but we should schedule that time as well. I know it sounds very boring, but the purpose of this is so when we hit an episode we can try to keep our bodies on track. We can remind ourselves when we are to do the important, basic stuff and that will help us battle an episode at least a little bit.
Having a routine can also keep us in check enough that we can keep an episode at bay, or spot when one is coming on. If our bodies are used to eight hours of sleep, but we are only getting four then we know we might have something to worry about and we should be keeping an eye on the rest of our symptoms.
I know routines can seem boring and very redundant, but for the sake of our mental health and to help our children know what to expect and when it can be a life saver. I didn’t end up raising seven children by not having some kind of structure and routine to our days. Everyone thrives on routine, but for us with bipolar disorder they are very important in maintaining our mental health.
Alarm clock image available from Shutterstock.
Smith, A. (2016). Routines and Structure. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar-parenting/2014/06/routines-and-structure/