Most of us get worried at times, even when things are going well. When it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak, those with bipolar disorder and anxiety may be the most vulnerable. Anxiety is a regular occurrence these days, as we are all concerned about our future, our health, and the well-being of our loved ones. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety can vary from a general sensation of uneasiness to a diagnosable disease or disorder, and both can trigger mood-related episodes such as mania or depression in persons with bipolar disorder (NIMH).
“Excessive worry and stress can make it more difficult for patients with bipolar illness to maintain stability and a happy mood,” says Trisha Chakrabarty, M.D., assistant professor in the department of psychotherapy at the University of British Columbia, to SELF.
Certain days are more difficult than others, but as Mona Potter, M.D., Medical Director of the McLean Anxiety Mastery Program, explains, it is possible to regulate your anxiety so that your sensations do not overwhelm you. The strategies listed below will not cure anxiety, but they may help you manage it if you have bipolar illness.
1. Look for a mental diversion:
According to Rachel Guerrero, Ph.D., a clinical psychotherapist at NYU Langone Health, stress can cause you to go from point A to point Z fast. Assume you saw a story on a big number of COVID-19 patients in your state. You start to worry about becoming sick. You could start to suspect that everyone in your family is unwell. Meanwhile, you may be concerned about whether your friends and family members may get very ill. Imagining the worst-case situation will just produce more stressful conditions. Dr. Guerrero tells SELF, “It puts the chance of having an anxiety attack.”
If you are having anxiety-inducing thoughts and are feeling nervous, you should get professional help. Dr. Guerrero suggests diverting your attention with a task that demands some focus. This might be termed mindfulness if you can achieve it. “A lot of people think that if I practice mindfulness, I’m calming down. “That isn’t the case,” she clarifies. According to her, you may practice mindfulness while riding, showering, creating nail painting, or performing any other activity you enjoy. Consider how the water and soap influence your skin while you’re having a shower, for example. Keep track of whether you like a cold or warm face water.
2. Make sure you stick to a regular schedule:
“Those with anxiety should create a system to reduce the number of choice elements in a day,” Dr. Guerrero advises. She advises that you set time apart for things like eating and sleeping, working out, and enjoying yourself to the best of your abilities.
The act of pounding it out can make you feel more at peace in situations when you lack control, which is common anxiety coping mechanism. On the other side, this type of self-care routine makes it easier to stick to practices that may help you avoid mood swings. Poor sleep, for example, may lead to more dangerous mood disorders, notably mania, which is why, according to Dr. Guerrero, doctors often urge persons with bipolar illness to go to bed and wake at the same time every day. “This is the finest therapy choice for people suffering from bipolar illness,” she explains.
3. Each day, set aside 15 minutes to write down your worries:
When it comes to regimens and routines, I’m a firm believer in sticking to them. the physician Guerrero suggests devoting 15 minutes a day to writing down your worries. To keep your journaling from getting out of control As SELF previously stated, you may focus on jotting down worry phrases rather than ruminations. A troubling statement has a beginning and an end while ruminating is circular. For example, a concerning remark would be: “I’m concerned that the epidemic will cause me to lose my work.” I won’t be able to rent if I’m fired. If I can’t pay my rent, I’ll have to move in with my family. I won’t be able to pay my rent if you lose your work. I’m not sure what I’ll do if I can’t pay my rent. My position cannot be terminated. What am I going to do about paying the rent?
Some people, according to Doctor. Guerrero finds it helpful to sketch out possible answers to their problems. In any event, designating this anxiety time might be an indication that when worry starts to grow in your thoughts, you’ll be able to stop yourself and say, “Nope, there’s no time to think about it right now.” “I’ll consider that later,” Dr. Guerrero states. “The more often you do this the more successful you will be at removing your mind from that tangled thought,” she says. You can also set a timer to ensure that you are on the right course.
4. Let your muscles unwind:
When people are worried, they may notice that their necks and shoulders get tighter. According to experts at the University of Michigan Medical School, this is one of the ways your body reacts to stress. If you’re having trouble with this, consider using the progressive muscle relaxation technique to help relieve bodily tension. Tensing a muscle or a group of muscles while focusing on your breathing is the way. According to Doctor. Potter, some people prefer to squeeze one muscle at a time, while others prefer to concentrate on many muscles at the same time or begin with their feet and work their way up. The most crucial thing is to breathe deeply while simultaneously contracting your muscles. According to Dr. Potter, you should do this gradually so that the entire operation takes between 5 and 10 minutes. Take a deep breath and relax your muscles while doing so. It may seem strange to make you feel tense to relieve stress, but it will help you become more aware of the bodily feelings you have when you let go of tension and note the difference between the two.
5. Make a list of five items you could notice:
Dr. Chakrabarty recommends focusing on your surroundings and writing down five things you’ll be able to see the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed. Consider four objects that you can feel, three items that you can hear, two items that you can smell, and one item that you can taste. According to The University of Rochester Medical Center, the 5-4-3-2-1 approach can help you stay focused on the current moment rather than worrying thoughts. You may do this in the most ordinary of situations, such as the restroom. “I feel the chilly tiles beneath my feet,” you could think, “but if I walk to the left, I feel the bathroom mat.” Wow, I had no idea how soft the carpeting was under my feet.”
6. Create a self-soothing kit to assist you in relaxing for a more peaceful time:
Doctor. Potter encourages her patients to create self-soothe kits that contain relaxation techniques. She calls this the “cope ahead” or “cope before” strategy because you’re thinking about how you’ll address your emotional state before worry sets in. It could be good to think about tactics that engage all of your senses, she says. When Destiny’s Child’s song brings back warm memories On your smartphone, you may create playlists with the group’s songs as well as other tunes that will brighten your day. When you smell vanilla, you could think about baking cookies with your loved ones. You can have a bottle of essential oil or perfume on you at all times to remind you of the wonderful aroma. It’s preferable to have as many possibilities as possible. “If something doesn’t work the first time, there are other options,” Dr. Potter tells SELF.
7. Use facts to contradict your views:
Thoughts that generate anxiety might be difficult to deal with, but they can also be quite beneficial at times. Perhaps you’re afraid that your brain fog is affecting your work performance, and you haven’t been able to find a means to break free from this way of thinking. “Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to refute a notion, you’ll still find a method to refute it,” Dr. Potter says. If this occurs, seek proof that the outcome you’re concerned about is possible. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m not performing well at work and might be fired,” think again. If you say, “I’ll never obtain another job since I’m unemployed,” you’re just being pessimistic. Consider what proof you can present to support your claim. Perhaps it’s a simple query like, “Has my employer told me that I’m not doing a good job?” What proof do I have that I’ll never acquire a job?” You might also consider if these anxious thoughts are useful. Recalling the situation at work Stressing out over performing anything incorrectly is likely to generate anxiety and lead to further blunders. Rather than Doctor. Consider what you can control in a given situation, according to Potter. If you’re comfortable doing so, you could talk to your manager about your feelings. You might also seek counsel and direction on a specific project, or experiment with different sorts of to-do lists to ensure that you don’t get sidetracked by crucial tasks.
8. Talk to someone in your group about your plans:
You could be experiencing Zoom pangs after several months of physical separation, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop communicating with others. Consistent social connections, according to Dr. Guerrero, are critical for persons with bipolar illness who are prone to depression. “You have to be intentional about it,” she explains, “because it’s easy to avoid doing the right thing.” If you’re not over someone, it doesn’t have to turn into a live video chat. The constancy of the connection is more important than the format in which the connection may be made.
It’s even better, according to Dr. Potter, to chat to a trusted person about how you’re feeling about your mental health. It’s a good idea to share your stress-reduction plan with them so that you remember it when you need their aid. When requesting assistance, it’s essential to be explicit about what you want them to do. “A lot of the time, we’re a little hazy,” Dr. Potter says. If you’re aware that you’re having trouble sleeping and that ruminating might cause depressive episodes, you can ask someone to assist you in reaching out to your therapist.
9. Keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum:
Alcohol can cause bipolar-related episodes, according to specialists at the Mayo Clinic. It may be an effective approach to relieve anxiety. If you’re afraid of acquiring a strong temptation to drink, you should avoid keeping alcohol in your house. If this doesn’t work for you for any reason–perhaps you’re certain you’ll continue to shop for alcohol, or perhaps you live with someone who is a frequent drinker–it may be beneficial to seek out specific support through talking with your therapist, if you have one, or by looking into support groups such as Tempest, which is a sobriety program that connects you with other people who are dealing with similar alcohol issues.
10. Recognize when you should ask for help:
To calm yourself, you may need to use a combination of strategies from your self-soothe kit. “Sometimes the anxiety is severe, so you’ll probably need a combination of techniques to help you relax,” Dr. Potter advises. She recommends experimenting with three different anxiety-relieving techniques. If you are still frightened and apprehensive about the danger of provoking a mood episode, you should speak with your psychiatrist or psychologist, if you are experiencing one. Depending on the conditions, they may propose changing your prescription, trying a different medicine, or adding extra treatment sessions.
We must accept that obtaining assistance is currently a difficult process. Many individuals are in financial difficulty, yet there are many better solutions available, such as low-cost treatment sessions. Alternatively, the Health Resources and Services Administration database contains a list of federally supported health centers that provide sliding scale or free services. Joining an online support group that links you with individuals who understand your problems will help you get through this difficult time. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance have a comprehensive list of support groups around the United States. They aren’t a replacement for medical help, but they can help you feel less alone. “At some level, we’re all experiencing grief and loss, as well as worry and dread,” Dr. Guerrero says. “There’s a lot of emotional upheavals.” With a little support, you might be able to deal with these feelings more easily.