Building and maintaining structure into your life is an important way to help remain stable with bipolar disorder. The disorder itself can be chaotic and adding chaos to chaos will only create more problems, especially in the long run. Keeping a daily routine to help minimize stress is an important part of treating bipolar disorder for this reason. Every day does not have to be identical, but it does help to have anchors that keep you steady throughout the day. There are five general areas in which this is the case.

1 Sleep
First of all, get enough sleep. The average adult needs 7-9 hours. Second, try to get up and go to bed at the same time every day.

2 Eating
The food we eat can have an impact on our moods. Make sure to eat small, healthy meals throughout the day and try to keep them at the same time every day.

3 Exercise
Exercise is good for everyone, but it can also be a mood booster. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, even if it’s in small bursts. This can be anything from walking to roller derby.

4 Social interaction
When we are depressed we tend to isolate ourselves. It can take a lot of energy to socialize during these periods, but it’s important to at least reach out to someone. If you don’t have the energy to go out and meet up with people, just chat with a friend for a little while.

5 Medication
Medication is the first-line treatment of bipolar disorder. Take your medication at the same time every day. Also make sure to ask your doctor if it should be taken with or without food.

If you’re having trouble keeping a routine, you might try what is called interpersonal and social rhythm therapy. It’s basically psychotherapy designed to help you build and maintain biological and social rhythms. It can be done in either individual or group settings. There are generally three phases.

First, the clinician will talk to the patient about their medical and social history, including what their current patterns are. At this point they will discuss problem areas and potential problem areas. Over the second stage the patient will track their routine and report back to their therapist where they will discuss skills that can be used to help build and maintain circadian and social rhythms, even during times of stress. Finally, once the patient and practitioner are confident that the patient has developed constructive habits and established a working routine, they can discuss discontinuing the therapy.

ISRT has been shown to help patients adhere more closely to their medication regimens as well as lengthen the time between episodes, showing that keeping a normal routine is a necessary part of treating bipolar disorder.

 

 

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Image credit: Dineshraj Goomany