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Bipolar Disorder and Exercise

Does Exercise Help with Bipolar Disorder?

Everyone knows that exercise is good for your health.  It is a no-brainer, and it is repeated so often that you have probably gotten tired of it.  I know I should do some physical activity. It is good for my heart, my bones… blah, blah, blah.

Bipolar DepressionOn the other hand, aside from needing to exercise because I am getting old and tired – the idea, that exercise might be good for my Bipolar Disorder, might just motivate me to do it.
Nothing else has.

A research study conducted in 2012 showed that exercise may have positive benefits for people with Bipolar Disorder.  I should have thought of that – but I didn’t (probably because I am bipolar and tend to ignore obvious things that might help me).

When asked – I have given advice to those who have depression (major depressive disorder, clinical depression, situational depression – or even bipolar depression).  What I tell those people is in addition to taking their meds, they should get up.  Get out of bed, get outside, and get some exercise – even if it is just around the kitchen.  Exercise increases the blood supply to your brain and helps to rise your energy levels – even if you don’t want to, it will do you some good.

Bipolar Disorder ShadowI give that advice to people when they are depressed, but I am not usually depressed.  My disorder tends toward mania or at least a mixed mood state.  So I don’t think about the need to increase my energy level.

Evidence has shown that exercise has some positive effects for people with Bipolar Disorder – even those that are not depressed.  In addition to the obvious health benefits, it can help to regulate your mood levels and “bring structure to chaos”.

As “bipolar“, we are often subject to disorderDisordered mind, disordered days, disordered environment.  One of the biggest tools for a bipolar patient to get and keep their body and mind regulated is the establishment of a schedule.

Go to bed at bedtime (and not at 2 am when you fall asleep in front of the TV). Get up in the morning, go to work on time, eat on a schedule – and take your meds when you should.
Establishing a routine does, in fact, help to keep from extreme ups and downs.

Exercise can be a big part of this – and physically reinforce a schedule on your body – that then affects your brain.  Just like getting up at the same time and going to sleep at the same time helps to establish a normal circadian rhythmexercise can reinforce that in a big way.

There are other benefits to exercise as well.  Physical activity naturally increases blood flow to the brain, which gives it the best chance of functioning at optimum level. It also helps to “clear out the cobwebs” that can be especially important if you are teetering on the edge.
Bipolar ExerciseExercise can increase your self-esteem that may have taken many blows in the past.  It can also increase social activity – that is apparently good for you, even if you don’t like people.  I don’t.

In my opinion, the biggest benefit may be “getting in touch” with your body.  When you exercise, you are more likely to stay within yourself.  One of the greatest problems in people with any mental disorder, and one of the reasons why people abuse drugs or perform any other risky behavior is the inability to be comfortable within your skin.  If you are exercising, you don’t really have a choice; you have to stay there.  Over time, you feel better about yourself, you feel more comfortable there, and you learn what is and isn’t “normal” within your body.

Perhaps this can lead you to better response when something is going amiss – when you may be slipping into disorder.

I tend to disregard the advice given by those who are not bipolar experts… either those with Bipolar Disorder or those who know the disease intimately, but this advice looks pretty solid to me.

Exercise and take your medicines!

Melissa Lind

Bipolar Disorder and Exercise as text to speech article

(Mental health video for blind and partially sighted people)

Managing Your Stress Levels

Stress can be a double-edged sword

Double-edged Swords = Stress


Stress can be the cause of many issues, but at the same time is a result of your actions and your environment.

Let’s explain this in a simpler way.

Over a period, you start always to feel tired and worn out. You can’t put your finger on the reason, but you notice that your energy levels are down, and  that you just can’t sleep properly. This is a result of stress.

Your increased stress levels, is the same things that allowed you to get run down. Because you are feeling tired, you do not handle situations as well as you usually would. Getting enough rest is a key to managing your stress levels.
Stressors are items in your environment that cause you to feel stressed out. They add to your tiredness and drain your body of energy. This is a vicious circle that becomes a never ending one.

To manage your stress you need to get enough sleep, and learn how to relax your body. How many times have you stayed up at night, just because you can’t get certain things out of your mind? These are your stressors – the things you have to learn to let go off.

Practical ways to manage stress include listening to soothing music. Soothing music can be especially helpful if you have trouble falling asleep. Turn off all lights but a candle light in your bedroom, and listen to some soft music, and then set the radio or disc player to auto shut, off after about an hour.

Another great way of learning how to relax your body is to soak in a hot bath, or to take a warm shower. Going for a massage can help to; this is great if your muscles feel stiff and knotted.

Your stress levels can also be kept down getting enough exercises on a regular basis. A particularly useful way for helping you relax, and sleep better at night, is exercise, such as yoga, walking and swimming.

To disallow stress to have you running around in circles is your goal. If your stress levels are super high then look for a reason, then take action to minimize your levels. At work, you may have too much on your plate – or you may find that you never spend any time on yourself.

Your family needs you to stay healthy, and remember you are important to them. It is possible to find ways to manage your stress, and keep those levels at bay.

Stop the things that allowed you to get run down, and gave you increased stress levels.