4 Steps to Managing Stress With Bipolar Disorder
Stomach pains. Headaches. Frustration. The list is ongoing as it relates to stress and when you live with bipolar disorder, stress should never be a part of the equation.
There was a time when stress was the pinnacle of my existence. Unfortunately, I internalized my stress until I was in the doctor’s office on my last leg. I was often told I needed a stress release but to me, releasing my stress was during one of my bipolar episodes. You know that moment when you allow your mental condition to outweigh your judgment and your understanding? You completely lose control of reality and you allow the other you to walk around terrorizing those you love.
All of this is because of stress. What you become is because you have not properly placed a checks and balances system for your life. You would rather (maybe not) harass the people around you who love you and who want to have a productive life than to identify your triggers as it relates to stress. Why is that? Why do you live a life “allowing” your bipolar disorder to react negatively to stress? When are you going to stop allowing stress to trigger your bipolar episodes?
Know this: Everyone is different and everyone reacts differently. But here are some things I have done to help curb my life of stress while managing my life.
1. I honestly identified what stressed me.
It’s easy to look the other way at the things that really stress you out but there comes a time when you have to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Create a list of those things that make you feel uptight or make you lose control, even those things that make you feel like you just don’t want to deal with them. For me, it was my children, my mother, my career (I was an entrepreneur), some of my friends and my finances. Of course, some of those things I couldn’t change but there were some things I could change and I did. You have to be that honest to make a list because the next steps are key to controlling your stress. Don’t hold back on your list.
2. Categorize your list by the order of importance.
Again, there are some areas of your life you cannot change, but you can change how you react to those things and people. When my children and mother stressed me out, I had to find ways to create a shield around myself so I wouldn’t lash out and hurt them. If that meant taking a break from my mother’s phone calls, I did that. If that meant letting my children visit friends for the weekend, then that’s what I did. I created pockets of safety for myself so that I could make sure I wasn’t becoming a stress magnet, thus releasing the demon.
3. I took time for me.
I know you have heard of the self-care moniker that is going around these days. Well, it is important to establish a self-care regimen that you must keep at least two times a month. Something as simple as going to lunch and sitting in your car during your lunch break can help you re-energize your mind. If you are always on the go, then it’s most likely that you are not living your best life and stress controls you. I lived that life. Believe me when I tell you this, you are mostly busy rather than productive.
4. Learn to say no.
To the point listed above about being more busy than productive in this day and age, we are always competing with people who we don’t know. Everyone wants to be a millionaire but at the cost of the sanity and their overall health. It’s unfortunate because when you live with bipolar disorder, you can’t afford to have consecutive days of stress and chaos from being so busy you can’t say no. If you remove your cape, then you will realize it’s really not that hard to say no.
I have been determined to remove stress from my life on a day-to-day basis. If I feel a situation has become too stressful, then I start the process of removing that thing or those people from it. I can no longer be held hostage to unnecessary meltdowns because I refuse to contain my stress. I hated who I was and I hated how I treated other people around me. It sent me to extreme lows and made me feel like I didn’t stand a chance at normalcy. All because I refuse to see life on my terms.
You can do the same thing too. If you are tired of stress running your life then you have to establish a plan and stick to it, regardless of where it’s coming from. No one is going to care more for you than you. You have to believe that you are worth saving.
Create your list of what makes you stressed. Be honest with yourself. If you are in that category then it’s time to start soul-searching to find what is it about you that stresses you out. You can’t beat the stress blues until you find out what makes you tick and what triggers you. Now get to writing that list and let me know how you are doing.
Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash