The changing seasons effect my moods in a noticeable pattern. Very often winter or even fall bring on depression which last though the spring. I slowly climb out of depression only to land in a hypomanic state, which often begins in the springs and worsens in the summer.
Once again, spring brought on a hypomanic episode that worsened in the summer. Stress, changing schedules, change in sunlight and activities all bring on these mood swings. I just read this blog about fighting summer mania. Here’s to a balanced life. Now I’m going to sleep because I know sleep and a consistent schedule are an important part of my self care. ☀️ 🏖🧜🏻♀️💦💛
While you can’t change the seasonal shift to longer days, you can make subtle lifestyle changes, such as regulating sleep, to sidestep summer mania.
Photo: Merlas/Getty Images
By Brittany Sibley
The days are longer and the sun is shining the brightest in a while. For a person diagnosed with Bipolar I in 2006, the mere transition to long, luminous days and shorter nights causes more anxiety and nervousness than usual.
The change of seasons has caused me plenty of manic episodes in the past. I have since learned seven solid solutions and tips to help combat the symptoms of seasonal changes. These tips help in staying clear of an inpatient hospital visit during what most consider the best months of the year. I hope they are as effective for you as they have been for me.
It has been essential for me to always get enough rest. However, with Daylight Saving Time and longer, shinier days, an additional burst in energy is never too far away. Although it almost always feels wonderful, and causes you to want to get more done, stay out longer, possibly accomplish a few more things in 24 hours…DON’T!
While the feeling of more energy is real and feels great, falling away from your regular sleep regimen is never a good idea, especially when the season of mania approaches. In fact, one should definitely keep the regular sleeping hours and if anything changes, let the hours increase, and not the opposite.
2. Eat Healthy
Eating healthy and making healthy eating decisions regularly is something I still struggle with. Yet I have experienced the benefits of eating salad instead of a deep dish pizza several times. You are what you eat! Eating more veggies, fruit, and lean meats instead of processed foods regularly, and especially during manic season, makes a difference. You will feel a difference in your skin, your mood, and even your waistline.
3. Take Deep Breaths
Taking deep breaths when stressed, tired, upset, angry, unfocused or even irritated helps. Try deeply inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth in sets of 3. This is also a good tool because it requires nothing but reminding yourself to do so in times of sudden distress.
Take time out of your day, (first thing in the morning works best for me), and remind yourself of who you are besides your diagnoses.
Remember that you are loved and worthy of all the great things that day has in store for you.
Since I am a Christian, it helps me to remind myself that I am never alone because the Holy Spirit, who my Savior promised to send when he left, is with me no matter how lonely I may feel.
5. Take Breaks
The sudden burst of energy one may experience from the sunnier days and more exposure to the sun in general can trigger the want to complete more tasks—and this can be alright, as long as you remember to take breaks.
It helps to remember that this new energy feels good, but is coming from an unbalanced source.
Doing too much in 24 hours with little time to break or rest can cause the onset of a manic episode.
6. Watch Alcohol Intake
5 years ago in 2013, I had an inpatient hospital visit that can be directly attributed to the large intake of hard alcohol consumed two nights before. I simply drank way too much that night.
With spring and summer come more festivals, barbecues, beaches, and let’s admit it—booze.
Monitoring alcohol intake during these seasons is a must! If you still are not sure when you have had enough, take it slow. Yes it can be a bit lame being the responsible one at the party, but I promise, your freedom will thank you later.
7. Cover Bedroom Windows Heavily
The day before Daylight Saving Time, try covering your bedroom window with a dark-colored blanket. The blanket will work as a shield to the bright rays of sun in the morning.
Although longer, sunnier days are always welcome, adjusting to the initial change while having a mental health condition can be traumatic.
The dark blanket helps ensure your sleeping pattern is not interrupted so blatantly. It also allows your body to tell you when it has had enough sleep.
I hope these seven tips are as helpful for you as they have been for me over the past several springs and summers.
Let’s do our best to have a safe, healthy and stable summer while enjoying the sunnier days and moonlit nights. Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health. Until next time…Happy Summer!