The holidays can be a hard time of year for many people, which makes holiday planning such a challenge, and so important.
The holidays can disrupt daily routines and schedules, cause financial stress, be associated with increased drinking and family functions that can be stressful for anyone. For those living with bipolar disorder, this time of year can be especially hard. In addition to these stressors, there is the change in the season and light patterns that can impact mood, potential travel that can disrupt sleep and possible over-stimulation. Holiday planning can be especially helpful during this time of year to help reduce and manage stress and to prevent crisis. Here are some things that can be useful to put in place ahead of time:
This time more than ever it is important to make sure to be doing the things that help you manage your mood and care for yourself. While often times difficult when managing other holiday obligations, maintaining your regular sleep, exercise and eating routine is very important during this time. Don’t forget to continue to engage in the other activities that support your mood such as meditation, therapy, journaling, etc. Try to plan ahead to keep these routines in place. You may also want to consider increasing check in’s with yourself and with your therapist to add additional appointments as needed.
Know Your Limits
During the holiday season we can easily get pulled into over-scheduling with social obligations or holiday preparation demands. Keep a realistic schedule that works for you and know how and when to say no to things for yourself. Also, identify people in your life you can ask for support as needed in getting things done such as holiday shopping or errand running.
Understand the Risks of Alcohol and Limit Use
Alcohol use can dysregulate and negatively impact mood. It can also negatively interact with medications and increase risky impulsive decision making. The holiday season can be a hard time for many to refrain and limit their alcohol use in the midst of increased parties and social pressures. If you do not already choose to refrain from alcohol use, this might be a time of year that is especially helpful to do so. Identifying a plan ahead of time of how you will cope with pressures or events that may increase risk of use can be very valuable. Engage an ally or sober buddy as needed to support you in this. Have a plan for how you may answer someone who might ask you why you aren’t drinking. Also, considering bringing your own favorite non-alcoholic beverage to that pot-luck event.
For more ideas for ways to cope with the holidays, check out webmd’s post here.
For More Information
Jackel, D. (Summer 2017). “Sober Consideration: Bipolar, Alcohol & the Decision to Drink.” Retrieved from: https://www.bphope.com/bipolar-alcohol-decision-drink
Griffin, M. (November 2007). “Bipolar Disorder: Handling the Holidays.” Retrieved from: