Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness that causes severe mood swings. These moods alternate between joyful, energetic highs (mania) and sad, weary lows (depression).
Coping with a depressive episode can be difficult. The symptoms of depression can make you lose interest in activities you usually enjoy and make it challenging to get through the day. But there are things you can do to fight the negative effects of depression.
Here are seven ways to boost your mood during a depressive episode:
1. Stick to a healthy routine
When you feel depressed, it’s easy to get into bad habits.
You may not feel like eating even when you’re hungry, or you may continue eating even when you’re full.
The same goes for sleeping. When you’re depressed, you’re more likely to sleep too little or too much.
Unhealthy eating and sleeping habits can make your depression symptoms worse. So a healthy daily routine can make it easier to maintain good habits.
Consider adopting these healthier habits:
- Eat meals and snacks at set times throughout the day.
- Increase your intake of vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
- Get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
- Wake up and go to bed at the same times every day
2. Structure your day
Just as scheduling your eating and sleeping can help ward off depressive symptoms, so can structuring the other activities in your day.
It can be helpful to create a list of daily tasks to check off as you complete them. It’s also useful to keep a calendar and sticky notes to help you stay on track.
When scheduling your daily tasks, be sure set aside enough time for resting and relaxing. Being too busy can exacerbate depressive symptoms and cause frustration.
It’s best to prioritize your time, taking extra care to make sure you attend medical appointments.
3. Don’t be afraid
When you’re not in a depressive mood, you may find pleasure in certain activities, such as reading or baking.
When you’re feeling depressed, however, you may not have enough motivation to do anything.
Despite your lack of energy, it’s important to continue to partake in activities you usually enjoy. Doing the things that make you happy can alleviate your depressive symptoms.
Don’t be afraid to do the activities that usually boost your mood. While you may fear that you won’t enjoy them as much when you’re depressed, that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Once you start doing these activities again, you’re likely to feel much better.
4. Stay active
Researchers believe certain types of exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of depression. This includes low- to moderate-intensity walking, jogging, or biking.
For best results, experts say you should exercise at least three to four days per week for 30 to 40 minutes at a time.
5. Don’t isolate yourself
When you’re depressed, social situations can seem overwhelming. You might feel like being alone, but it’s important not to isolate yourself. Being alone can increase the symptoms of depression.
Get involved in social activities, such as local book clubs or athletic teams. Spend time with friends and family or chat with them regularly on the phone. Having the support of friends and loved ones can help you feel more comfortable and confident.