During such uncertainty and stressful times, since this virus has become the invisible elephant in the room, we can experience an increase in anxiety due to not knowing what restriction is coming next or how long we'll be social distancing from our friends and family. With such extreme changes happening in our external world, it can cause a shift in our internal mood.
Below are a list of ways to maintain daily habits to manage external chaos and take control of what we can in our lives to improve our mood and connect with others during this difficult time:
To acquire a better understanding, it’s imperative to know bipolar is classified as a disorder of the brain and that there are two types. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, 5th Edition, the two types of bipolar are:
- Keep a routine - Keep a daily routine which consists of going to bed and waking up around the same time each day, eating healthy meals and being mindful of snacking if you are working steps away from your fridge. Continue your daily self-care practices of taking a shower, exercising, and keeping daily to do lists to feel accomplished and competent each day. Maintain church and religious weekly practices by seeing if your place of worship offers online options or if you can connect virtually with church members to pray or worship. Lastly, continue to meet for your scheduled appointments with your doctors and mental health professionals. Most offices are offering alternatives to in person appointments.
- Schedule social interactions with friends and family - We are used to scheduling activities with friends and family on the weekends or with spare time during the week. Since we are unable to continue to meet in person, it can be easy to lack connection or isolate ourselves from others. It is important to continue to schedule weekly times to connect with family and friends virtually by connecting over the phone or with facetime. Also, there are apps that can help facilitate this connection like Houseparty, which allows you to connect to other people while playing games or with Marco Polo through video messaging. Search in your app store on your phone to find other ways to create new and meaningful connections to others.
- Validate emotions - With so much change that is occurring, it is important to be mindful of emotions that are coming up for you and to take time each day, and throughout the day to validate them and cope accordingly. For instance, if you are feeling alone, take time to journal about these thoughts and then try reaching out to a friend or family member virtually to connect. It can be easy when we are in our own space and feeling alone to disconnect and turn to unhealthy coping such as substances or mindless television watching to disconnect from our emotions but this can add more distress rather than coping with the primary presenting emotion.
- Maintaining Boundaries - With the virus being on everyone’s minds, it can be easy to consume too much news and social media responses which can cause increased anxiety. Keep a boundary with information, by continuing to be informed on what is occurring from valid and reliable sources but limiting the amount of time that you are consuming the news or other people’s responses to the virus. Also, maintain boundaries with others in your household by taking time for yourself and creating a physical boundary between you and others if you are feeling the need to regain energy by being alone.
If you are experiencing a shift in your mood and having issues functioning daily, it is beneficial to reach out for help from a licensed clinician to discuss your concerns and work to gain coping skills to manage these changes. At The Behavioral Wellness Group, we are continuing to take new clients for individual therapy, medication management and Intensive Outpatient Programs through online Zoom or phone sessions. Intensive Outpatient Programs can be particularly helpful to connect in a safe and nonjudgmental group environment with other people who are struggling with the same experiences as you. In this space you are able to work together to learn and apply coping skills. To learn more about our IOPs, visit this link. To set up an appointment, please contact our front office line at 440-392-2222.
Stephanie Cerula, LPCC
The Behavioral Wellness Group