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5 Minutes Read

Planning ahead for ups and downs

If you’ve noticed that you go through patterns of getting carried away by your high moods, followed by feeling really crushed by your low moods, planning ahead for how to take care of yourself during those times is a proactive step that can really increase your overall wellness. This can be especially true for people who have received certain official mental health diagnoses, such as Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, or Major Depression.

Everyone has their own preferred ways of managing their ups and downs. To get you started in finding what’s best for you, here are some ideas for strategies that could help.

Managing high moods

Feeling really affected by high moods can look like getting very, very energetic, enthusiastic, or irritable – to such an extreme that it goes on for days. If you’ve been diagnosed as experiencing manic episodes, these high moods could go on for more than a week, and possibly involve having thoughts that are disconnected from reality.

Things that could help when you’re going through a high mood include:

  • Avoid overwhelming environments, like large events and crowds
  • Keep away from caffeine, alcohol, and drugs – they can further unbalance your nervous system and mood
  • Postpone experiences that could be overstimulating, like having sex, spending a lot of money, and making big decisions
  • Engage with calming activities like deep breathing exercises, listening to soothing music, or gentle stretching
  • Connect with people you trust that can give you support – particularly if you’re having unusual thoughts or strange ideas and need a “reality check”
  • Make sure you’re taking any medication for high moods as prescribed, and reach out to your doctor if you’re worried they’re not working. If you start entering a crisis or doing things that could harm other people or yourself, contact emergency services right away.

Preventing high moods

A proactive strategy for taking care of your high moods is to try to avoid having them in the first place. It’s important to consider this because it’s easy to get caught up in the energy of the high mood while you’re having it, and you might not think to practice your strategies of bringing yourself back to equilibrium.

These are some tips that can help prevent high moods:

  • Keep a structured daily routine – to the greatest extent possible, try to wake up, have meals, and go to sleep at the same time every day
  • Rethink your relationship with drugs and alcohol – consider if reducing or abstaining is right for you
  • Find ways to manage stress and stay physical healthy
  • Journal regularly so you can start noticing the signs that suggest a high mood is on its way
  • Make sure you have the right professional support – connect to a therapist or psychiatrist (or both) who you trust

Getting through low moods

Going through a low mood might involve feeling down, numb, hopeless, or worthless. If the mood lasts for more than two weeks, it might meet diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode. In extreme cases, a low mood might have you start having thoughts of wishing you could fall asleep and never wake up, or thinking about ending your life.

You can take care of yourself when you’re having a low mood by:

  • Keeping yourself physically well, by aiming to sleep about eight hours a night, eat two or three meals a day, and maintain your hygiene at least daily
  • Staying in touch with loved ones that support you, even if you don’t always “feel” like i
  • Exercising and/or getting outdoors regularly
  • Expressing yourself through art or journaling
  • Connecting with simple joys, like watching your favorite movie or spending time with your pet
  • Avoiding alcohol, which is a depressant
  • Finding the things you feel positive about or grateful for despite the difficult time you’re having
  • Understanding that your thoughts are being significantly impacted by your low mood, and are not necessarily reflective of your true reality – this can help you take comfort in the knowledge that these ideas will pass
  • Making sure you’re taking any medication for low moods as prescribed, and reaching out to your doctor if you’re worried they’re not working

If you have thoughts of ending your life, ask someone you trust to help you remove things from your environment that could hurt you, like pills, knives, and other weapons. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for support, and connect with emergency services right away if you think you might take action on harming yourself.

Preventing low moods

The fatigue and lack of motivation that often comes with low moods can make it hard to take action to help yourself – even if you know you really need it. That’s why it’s a good idea to try to avoid having low moods in the first place.

These strategies can help prevent low moods:

  • Keep a structured routine that involves enough sleep, nutritious meals, and regular exercise
  • Consider reducing or eliminating your use of substances, particularly alcohol and party drugs
  • Connect with stress-busting activities like meditation, crafting, or anything else you find fun and relaxing
  • Avoid getting isolated from the people you care about
  • Create positive statements to counteract the negative self-talk that goes through your mind during low moods – like “I am worthy of love”, “I have many talents”, or “I know there are good things ahead in my future”
  • Journal regularly so you can start noticing the signs that suggest a low mood is on its way
  • Make sure you have the right professional support – connect to a therapist who you trust, and a psychiatrist if you think medication for depression could be right for you

Connect to more support

If you’re ready to get more support for managing your high or low moods, starting therapy might be the next step. I’m available to chat about what you’ve learned about caring for yourself so far and share a bit about what other things could help you that we can work on next. Reach out today to schedule a free phone consultation with me by clicking the button below.


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