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When it comes to managing bipolar disorder, it’s really important to develop coping strategies for use in everyday life, in addition to seeking professional help. Find out more about different strategies you can use and what to do if you’re still finding your symptoms hard to control.

This can help if:

  • you want to learn about strategies to self-manage bipolar disorder
  • you want help in tracking your mood
  • you want ideas on how to get into a routine.
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Why self-help strategies for bipolar are effective

If you’re diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it’s really important to work with a mental health professional rather than try to manage the condition on your own. However, research has shown that self-help strategies that are planned with your mental health practitioner can make a huge difference in managing your bipolar disorder.

Changes in mood can often be triggered by stress or changes in sleep. Having a daily routine and looking after yourself is important for everyone, but it’s even more important for someone with bipolar disorder. There are a lot of different strategies you can try that may help with the day-to-day management of your mood.

Self-help strategies for bipolar disorder

  • Monitor your mood. Keep track of your mood daily, including factors such as sleep, medication and events that may influence mood. Use a chart or app to help.
  • Develop a schedule. Routine is important in keeping your mood stable. Organise a schedule and try to stick to it regardless of your mood, to help maintain stability.
  • Sleep hygiene. Disruption to sleep cycles can influence circadian rhythms and have a negative impact on mood. Read about getting into a sleep routine.
  • Limit stress. Where possible, limit stressors in your life and don’t take on too many commitments. This might mean taking one less subject for a semester or working shorter hours.
  • Take your time in making decisions. Or ask others such as a trusted family member or friend to help you make decisions if you’re feeling impulsive.
  • Build a good support network. Family and friends can help you manage your day-to-day symptoms by giving an outsider’s perspective on your mood. They can also be there when you need to talk about your more difficult moments.
  • Join a support group. It can be really reassuring to hear from people who are going through similar experiences. Support groups can offer great advice and comfort. You could also start up an anonymous conversation with other young people on the ReachOut Forums.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise is helpful as a way to help manage mood.
  • Take time to relax. Relaxation is effective in reducing stress.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. These can make our moods worse. If you’re on medication, alcohol and drugs can be particularly dangerous. Talk to your psychiatrist or GP.
  • Take medications only as prescribed. Never make changes to medication without talking to your psychiatrist or GP.
  • Make a wellbeing plan. Keep a record of your plans for how to manage sleep and routines, how to manage highs and lows, and details of contacts if you need help. Make this plan with your mental health professional and give a copy to family and friends.
  • Make a suicide safety plan. Prepare how to manage low moods and suicidal thoughts.

What can I do now?

  • Make an appointment with your GP.
  • Try some strategies from the Centre for Clinical Intervention’s website.
  • Read more about treatments for managing bipolar disorder.