Anyone who struggles with mental illness knows the power that seasonal changes have over their symptoms. The short days and long nights of winter can aggravate depressive symptoms, leaving you feeling sad, sluggish, and lethargic. In fact, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a diagnosis characterized by seasonal flare-ups of depressive symptoms.
Summer can have its challenges, too. Longer days, nicer weather, and more gatherings with friends tend to lift low spirits left behind by the winter season. It’s a welcome change for most people across the country. If you have bipolar disorder, though, this pleasant shift also comes with the risk of summer mania.
Manic episodes might not seem too bad after months of dampened spirits, but that’s not always the case. These episodes can lead to disastrous outcomes as depressive episodes. Managing your bipolar disorder is crucial if you want to keep your mania at bay these next few months. How can you avoid summer mania with bipolar disorder?
Why Do Manic Episodes Occur During the Summer?
The transition from winter into spring and summer is a revitalizing and rejuvenating period for many. People who live in areas with snowy winters look forward to the warmer weather and brighter days that summer brings. Even those in locations where the winters aren’t as harsh still grapple with the heavy mental weight of far fewer daylight hours.
That summer mood boost is usually a collective experience. The sun seems brighter, the birds chirp louder, and everyone feels friendlier during summertime. It brings exciting energy into the air as everything that regrew in the springtime now bursts with color.
These exhilarating summer feelings can also be a cause of concern for some. The excitement may create too much stimulation and exacerbate underlying mental health symptoms. For example, individuals with bipolar disorder often feel more at risk of tipping into mania during the summertime.
Bipolar disorder amplifies emotional reactions to experiences and situations. As summer sets in, bipolar disorder can make the already thrilling season even more intense. The signs of an oncoming manic episode can slip right by if you’re not paying close attention. Then you’re in a hypomanic or full-blown manic episode before you even realize it.
The Best Ways to Avoid Summer Mania with Bipolar Disorder
Summer can make it easier for you to find excuses to set self-care to the side. You might feel less inclined to do the things that make your bipolar disorder manageable during the rest of the year. Social engagement is at an all-time high, and you don’t want to miss out on any experiences.
Sticking to medication timing might feel like an inconvenience when you’re out and about with friends. Sleep takes a back burner when there are longer daylight hours and more activities are going on. Energy levels are at an all-time high with all the excitement and buzz in the air. Unless you’re actively paying attention to each aspect of your routine, it’s easy to let these aspects fall through the cracks one by one.
Preventing mania takes a lot of work during any time of the year. Managing symptoms is a constant battle and requires ongoing self-reflection and work. But it’s good to recognize the times you’re more at risk of a manic episode, especially the summer months. You’re less likely to progress into mania when you’re making an effort to avoid summer mania with bipolar disorder.
These tips are a great way to keep your symptoms in check and manage the seasonal changes of your bipolar disorder.
1. Maintain a Routine
Having a consistent routine is one of the best tools for avoiding summer mania. Research shows that establishing a consistent schedule is a helpful way to manage your bipolar disorder. Disruptions to that routine increase the likelihood of new manic or depressive episodes. On the other hand, maintaining regularity in daily life eases the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is vital for any adult. Most research recommends at least 7 hours per night for adults over the age of 18. Sleep is even more critical when you’re trying to avoid summer mania with bipolar disorder. Remember that your bipolar is more challenging to manage when you’re exhausted. It’s tempting to skip out on sleep during the summer, but it’s not worth the risk.
3. Avoid Mind-altering Substances
Summertime, for some, means backyard barbecues and patio drinks with friends. Mind-altering substances shouldn’t be a part of your evening if you’re trying to avoid mania, though. Alcohol and other substances exacerbate symptoms of bipolar disorder and make them harder to manage.
4. Stick to a Balanced Diet
Summer months are filled with potlucks and dinners and all sorts of food-fueled events that bring people together. There are all sorts of fun, highly palatable foods at these gatherings that are enjoyable but not the most conducive for your mental health. Some studies show that sticking to a balanced diet can have an effect on your bipolar disorder. Filling your diet with a range of whole foods is an essential part of living with the condition.
5. Don’t Neglect Exercise
Exercise is a great way to manage your symptoms. If you’re trying to avoid summer mania with bipolar disorder, make sure you’re exercising a few times each week. Whether you’re going for walks, swimming some laps, or biking through town, don’t neglect your exercise.
6. Communicate with Your Loved Ones
Remind your loved ones that summer can be a difficult time to live with bipolar disorder. Let them know you might need some extra support or someone to keep an eye on you. Communicating with your loved ones ensures you don’t have to feel like you’re managing your bipolar disorder alone; they’re able to help you when you need it, too.
7. Fight Back Against FOMO
FOMO, or the “fear of missing out,” can be a big part of the summer months. It’s hard not to feel like you’re missing out when there are so many activities going on around you. Growing numbers of studies are looking at the relationship between the anxieties that come with missing out and their effects on your mental wellbeing. Social media might make it seem like you need to be at every event, but you put your mental health at risk when trying to make it to every get-together.
8. Avoid Taking on Unnecessary Stress
Summertime already comes with enough heightened emotional stress. Avoid taking on extra projects so you can avoid unnecessary stress. The more you put on your plate, the harder it will be to manage your bipolar disorder.
9. Set Aside Time for Yourself
Taking time for yourself to avoid summer mania with bipolar disorder is crucial. Spending all your time around people, even when they’re family or friends, can lead to too much stimulation. It’s good to set aside time for yourself so you can refuel, recharge, and keep your symptoms at bay.
10. Reach out for Additional Support if You Need It
Trying to manage your symptoms and avoid summer mania with bipolar disorder on your own can be exhausting and isolating. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to your counselor or healthcare provider if you realize that you need some additional support this summer.
Seeking help from a bipolar disorder treatment program is a great way to get ahead of your symptoms. Facilities that provide specialized treatment for bipolar disorder understand the unique challenges that come with summertime. Even if you’ve been to treatment before, finding an understanding and inclusive facility can offer the support you need.
Pasadena Villa is a trusted treatment provider, providing compassionate care to those living with persistent mental illness. We utilize a Social Integration Model developed by our team that equips you with the social interaction and life skills needed for positive social functioning. Our team believes that everyone can live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life with the right tools.
Pasadena Villa provides residential treatment in resort-style facilities located in both Tennessee and Florida. We also offer outpatient services both at in-person facilities and nationwide through our virtual telehealth programs. If you’re ready to learn more about finding the help you need, reach out to us today. Our admissions specialists are ready and waiting to connect you with the program that’s right for you!