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Tips For Helping Your Circadian Rhythm

Have you noticed your bipolar symptoms change with the seasons?

Have you noticed your symptoms get worse around the holidays?

Seasonal Change And Less Daylight

I’m from New England. From November to March the weather gets colder and the amount of daylight goes down, especially after daylight savings. 

I find that the change in daylight makes my bipolar symptoms worse. It’s important to manage symptoms in a different way.

Why Seasonal Change Affects Mood?

Here’s an interesting fact!  Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, but also a circadian rhythm disorder as well.

What is a Circadian Rhythm?

A circadian rhythm is an internal clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. It repeats each time the earth rotates every 24 hours. 

The daylight from the sun helps sync your internal body clock to the outside world. 

When the seasons change there’s a change in daylight. Depending on where in the world you live you’ll notice that you’re mood is off during the day and less motivated to stay focused.

Any change to your internal clock is hard on your mood and sleep patterns, especially if you’re managing bipolar symptoms.

Quick Facts About Your Circadian Rhythm

Here are some quick facts about why your circadian rhythm is important:

  • Internal Clocks Are Tied To Everything Around You: Body functions such as alertness, hunger, metabolism, mood and fertility are tied to your circadian rhythm. It’s important to keep them healthy.
  • Changes In Sleep Messes Up Your Internal Clock: Whether you have insomnia or you’re looking at your smartphone while you’re going to sleep it can mess up your internal clock. It’s recommended that you get 7 hours of sleep every night.
  • The Bipolar Brain Is Different: There’s evidence that bipolar disorder is a circadian rhythm disorder, along with being a mood disorder. A neurotransmitter called somatostatin regulates your internal clock and there’s less of it in a bipolar brain.
  • Irregular Circadian Rhythm Leads To Mood Episodes: An irregular circadian rhythm causes problems with manic highs and depressive lows.
  • Sunlight Is Connected To Serotonin: Exposure to sunlight has been linked to an increase of a hormone called serotonin. It helps to boost mood and calms you down and stay focused.

How To Help Your Circadian Rhythm?

Here are some tips for circadian rhythm health:

  • Increase Physical Activity: Exercise is very important for a healthy circadian rhythm. If there’s snow on the ground in the middle of winter I recommend a fun activity like snow shoeing.
  • Don’t Stay In Bed Or On Couch All Day Long: When you’re tired you might feel like laying down all day, which messes up your circadian rhythm. Avoid staying in bed unless it’s for sleep or love making.
  • Increase Your Light Exposure: If there’s less daylight it’s recommended that you try bright light therapy to reset your circadian rhythm.
  • Take Some Vitamin D: Taking vitamin D helps improve sleep and mood. It helps your brain produce melatonin and makes you less anxious.
  • Avoid Or Limit Caffeine: Consuming caffeine can delay you circadian rhythm, especially when it’s before bed time. So, avoid or limit it if you can.

How Do You Make Up For Less Daylight?

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If you’d like to learn more about the role sleep plays in managing bipolar symptoms please click on the button below:

Sources:

https://www.bbrfoundation.org/event/circadian-rhythms-and-bipolar-disorder

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2867040/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6812517/#:~:text=In%20bipolar%20patients%2C%20irregular%20circadian,about%20light%20in%20the%20environment.

http://sleepeducation.org/news/2012/11/13/winter-sleep-and-your-circadian-rhythms

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32156230/#:~:text=Results%3A%20Vitamin%20D%20receptors%20and,human%20circadian%20rhythms%20and%20sleep.

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Coping Through Cooking

Have you ever had a bipolar disorder coping strategy that became a passion? 

Did this passion help you reduce your symptoms and at the same time fill the room with delicious smells?!

Coping Through Mindfulness

I’ve had bipolar disorder my whole life. Along with medication and therapy, there are other ways to manage symptoms including coping strategies.

Coping strategies include mindfulness, which means living in the moment and awakening to experience. 

Mindfulness includes forms of meditation such as breath awareness and kundalini yoga.

Did you know that cooking is a basic and overlooked form of meditation.

Cooking In The Moment

Cooking is a simple daily task that can help you find peace and enjoyment in the present moment.

An example is an easy and simple recipe such as candied sweet potatoes. When you’re starting it on the top of your stove by adding butter to your pan you’ll notice your mind is set on that simple task. 

Then you start adding brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to the butter. When this happens there’s a delicious smell that not only makes you hungry but also triggers feelings of warm nostalgia, along with activating areas of your brain linked to emotion and memory. You’ll find that this calms an anxious mind.

Benefits Of Cooking?

It’s hard to get motivated when your in a depressed mood because of bipolar disorder.

Due to depression weighing you down; you might be in the mood to overeat, but you might have a hard time getting up and doing anything else. 

When you’re feeling depressed there are many benefits to cooking for yourself.

What Are Some Of Cooking’s Benefits?

Benefits Include:

  • Cooking Is Therapeutic: Cooking is an effective therapy, because it encourages creativity. It also reduces anxiety and depression.
  • Healthier Food Options: People who cook for themselves tend to have better overall health.
  • Focus On What You’re Eating: When you’re cooking for yourself you’re not surrounded by other distractions. You can enjoy your food more and exercise better control over what you eat.
  • Cooking Forces You To Get It Together: Preparing your own food takes some planning. It encourages you to be organized and focused, which helps with bipolar symptoms.
  • It Connects You With Others: Cooking for someone else is a way to express love. Whether it’s for your significant other, kids, roommates, family or friends you’re all working together to make something amazing.

How Do You Cope With Your Bipolar Symptoms?

Please Like And Comment!

If you want to learn more about mindfulness please click on the button below:

Sources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320392

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-babble/201501/smells-ring-bells-how-smell-triggers-memories-and-emotions

https://lifehacker.com/when-you-eat-focus-on-just-eating-1548927900

https://www.headspace.com/mindfulness/mindful-cooking