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Better Manage Bipolar Disorder by Sticking to a Routine

Consistent habits can help you minimize stress and give you a sense of control.

Creating a routine can help you minimize stress and provide a sense of control in your life when living with bipolar disorder.

For people with bipolar disorder, sticking to a daily routine can play a significant role in the process of managing and treating the condition. Creating a routine means you will know what to expect on a daily basis. This can help minimize stress and provide a sense of control in your life.

A routine can also help you focus on habits that benefit your overall health—like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly.

1. Maintain a sleep schedule

Difficulty sleeping is a common symptom of bipolar disorder, and a lack of sleep can increase the risk of a relapse. Setting your alarm for the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time every night may help reset your internal clock so you can get a full night’s rest. To reap the benefits of a full night’s sleep, consider turning off devices and screens one to two hours before going to bed.

2. Eat meals on a schedule

People with bipolar disorder often experience significant changes to their appetite as their mood shifts between highs and lows. Eating meals at the same times every day can help keep your eating habits consistent so you’re less likely to skip a meal or eat too much. Consider setting alarms throughout the day as a reminder. If trying to figure out what to eat on a daily basis feels overwhelming, try to create a weekly meal plan.

3. Get some exercise

Set aside some time every day to get up and move. Take a quick walk after breakfast, go for a bike ride before dinner, or take a dance break in the middle of the day to shake off some stress! It doesn’t have to be an intense workout—regular movement can improve your physical and mental health.

4. Take your medication consistently

It might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget to take your medication after a long day. Talk to your healthcare provider about what time of day is best to take your medication and set an alarm so you take it at the same time every day.

5. Set aside time for relaxation

Taking some “me time” is such a simple thing, but it can really help you relax and relieve stress. Pick a time each day to do something you enjoy—read a book before bed or watch an episode of your favorite show after dinner.

6. Keep a journal to track your moods

Spend some time every day jotting down how you feel and if there have been any changes to your eating or sleeping habits. Tracking your daily mood and energy level may help you find triggers or patterns in your behavior that contribute to your symptoms, and it can also help your healthcare provider figure out if you need to adjust your treatment plan.

If trying to create a routine feels difficult, don’t be afraid to ask a friend, a loved one, or your healthcare providers for help. Remember: everyone is different, so your routine might not look like someone else’s. Setting a routine will depend on factors like work schedule, healthcare appointments, and family responsibilities, so it might take time to figure out a routine that works best for you.

Article sources open article sources

Mariana Plata. The Power of Routines in Your Mental Health. Psychology Today. October 4, 2018.
Northwestern Medicine. Health Benefits of Having a Routine.
Larry Ginsberg. Why Routines are Important for Mental Health. Hackensack Meridian Health. June 2, 2020.
Alexandra K. Gold and Louisa G Sylvia. The role of sleep in bipolar disorder. Nature and Science of Sleep, 2016. No. 8.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Circadian Rhythms.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips to help you fall asleep during a response.
National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar Disorder.
Mayo Clinic. Bipolar Disorder.
MedlinePlus. Bipolar Disorder.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Living Well with Bipolar Disorder.
International Bipolar Foundation. Bipolar Disorder: Benefits And Difficulties Of Routines.

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