Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness characterized by mood episodes that alternate between mania/hypomania and depression.
If you’re feeling manic/hypomanic you may have symptoms such as an inability to sleep, anxiety, talking rapidly or taking too much work or responsibility.
When you’re feeling depressed it can manifest itself as sadness and lack of pleasure. However it can manifest itself as irritability, which is an often overlooked symptom of bipolar disorder.
What is Irritability?
Irritability or feeling irritable is a state of nervous excitement brought on by life’s stress. It’s a normal reaction if you’re feeling tired or sick, or if you’re feeling anxious.
However, it’s an indication of a bigger problem if you’re feeling extreme irritability or if you’re irritable for an extended period of time.
When you’re irritable for a prolonged period of time it can make you angry.
Irritability is slightly different than anger, it’s when you feel easily frustrated or impatient. Anger happens when you’re lashing out at others for feeling irritable for a long period of time.
What is Bipolar Irritability?
A consequence of extreme or prolonged irritability is a form of anger called bipolar rage.
Bipolar rage is anger that’s impulsive, intense, erratic and explosive. An example would be if you’re asked a simple question and responding with irrational anger.
This means that you’re lashing out for no logical reason, on those you love and care for you. This can damage relationships and also lead to job loss and other forms of self-sabotage.
How To Manage Bipolar Irritability?
It’s important to take a healthy approach when you’re experiencing irritability or anger. You’ll find that your relationships with others and your overall quality of life improves when you learn how to cope and manage your bipolar mood episodes.
Coping Strategies Include:
Sticking To a Treatment Plan: Irritability and anger can be effectively managed when you stick with a treatment plan. This includes talking to a therapist and taking medication.
Identify Your Triggers: It’s important to learn what your triggers are. These can be events, people or requests that can upset you. These include arguments with loved ones, stressful events such as losing a job or death in the family and good things can be triggers as well, such as getting a promotion or getting married.
Harness Your Negative Energy: If you feel like lashing out, but you want to avoid negative social interactions it helps to harness that negative energy. It can be done by taking deep relaxing breaths and feeling the weight being lifted off your shoulders, or if that’s not your thing start walking, jogging or even hiking to lift your spirits.
If you’re interested in learning about relaxation techniques please click on the button below and read a previous post about mindfulness:
Connect With Your Support Group: A support group can be family and friends that understand that you have bad days. Also, when you stay connected to your support network it can minimize the severity of depressive episodes.
How Do You Handle Irritability and Anger?
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I mentioned in a previous post about the fear of the unknown. It occurs when we’re faced with something that’s unfamiliar or something we don’t understand.
We become anxious about what that unknown thing means for our lives; most of us cope by exercising, listening to music or connecting with friends. However, there are some people who seek out information in an effort to resolve their anxiety; it may or may not be true and sometimes it ends up being misinformation that causes us to become more anxious toward that unknown thing they fear.
Misinformation refers to false or inaccurate information. Sometimes its due to errors or inaccuracies caused by false rumors, insults, pranks or embellishment; other times it’s due to disinformation caused by the deliberate falsehood by design and this includes malicious content such as hoaxes or propaganda.
If you’re feeling anxious please click on the link below and download my free anxiety expert guide:
What are the Sources of Misinformation?
Misinformation along with disinformation and propaganda has been around as long as mass communication; which began with the development of the printing press at the end of the 14th century.
In today’s world we are constantly bombarded with mass media including the mainstream media and social media.
The mainstream media consists of news organizations and their websites. They are always competing with each other for ratings or views and they’ve always embellished news stories.
To embellish something is to add something more interesting or entertaining to add extra details to a news story, especially the ones that are not true.
Due to the rise of internet news organizations along with social media mainstream media news organizations have seen a decline in ratings among the coveted 18 to 49 year old age demographic. Not only news media, but television viewership in general. Declining viewership had meant declining quality in the form of embellishment.
Social media is emerging as the main source of news online; along with other digital technologies. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have allowed journalists to instantly report just by using their smartphones.
Over 77 million Americans have a social media profile. Being on social media allows you to easily connect with a large audience. It’s an effortless way to connect with like minded people regardless of location with just a single click.
Observers often lack the skills and motivation to interview participants to get the full unvarnished story. This can lead to the reporting of news that’s often distorted by the observers built-in bias (prejudice), intended to inflame public opinion or to play down the impact of an event known only to the observer.
More often than not social media will only give you news and information tailored to what it thinks you want to read about.
What are the Consequences of Misinformation?
The effects of misinformation on your mental health is the same as gaslighting.
Gaslighting is described as a form of manipulation and control in which a victim is systematically and deliberately fed false information that leads them to question their own self-worth and even their sanity. It can occur as a form of emotional abuse in our personal and professional relationships, but overtime misinformation from the media can have the same effect.
Constantly being fed false information can contribute to a victim’s sense of hopelessness and confusion and lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
An example of gaslighting by the media has been the news coverage of the Coronavirus.
According to scientists we know that the Coronavirus is officially called COVID-19; it comes from the same family of viruses as the common cold.
COVID-19 is a new strain that has not been identified in humans; it’s zoonotic meaning its transmitted between animals and humans.
It’s recommended that to prevent the infection from spreading you need to wash your hands more frequently, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze and to avoid close contact with anyone showing any of the symptoms listed above.
Since COVID-19 is a disease that was not previously known it’s only natural that people all over the world are experiencing anxiety and fear. I mentioned in a previous post about the fear of the unknown; it is a human instinct intended to protect you from potential threats.
The amount of anxiety people are experiencing varies widely; since there’s an absence of clear cut resolutions many people are worrying and trying seek out more information in an effort to relieve their anxiety.
However, people seek information through the news; whether it’s through mainstream media or social media. The news is either embellished to exaggerate the story in order to get you to watch it more or the information is full of errors and inaccuracies that cause you to be in a constant state of confusion and make you feel hopeless as your anxiety worsens.
The constant negative news coverage has led to a form of collective gaslighting that’s making us more anxious than we have to be.
In a previous post I discussed the positive and negative effects of the internet and if your interested in reading that post please click below:
Don’t Want To Feed Into Your Fears? Here’s What To Do?
Focus On What You Can Control: If you’re feeling anxious and you’re seeing to resolve those feelings. Instead of using news media to try to resolve anxious thoughts you refocus your attention on what you can control, because to tell you the truth you have no control over things that are either happening or will happen. However, you are in control of how you react to what’s happening or to what you fear.
Be Mindful That You’re Not The Only One Feeling Anxious: It’s comforting to know that you are not the only ones feeling anxious. If you’re looking to resolve your anxiety you’re better off talking about it with other people.
Mindfulness Meditation: The misinformation spread by the media can make it feel like reality is being distorted. Mindfulness Meditation helps you stay aware of what’s really going on; it protects your mental health and increases your attention span, along with helping out with slowing down racing thoughts and overwhelming feelings of anxiety.
Limit The Amount of Time You Consume Media: Limiting how much media you consume has many benefits including having a better ability to focus, having a greater sense of self-awareness and improved mental illness. It’s estimated that more than half of Americans experience stress and anxiety from watching the news, so reducing how much you watch is a positive.
Be Mindful About The Accuracy of The Information You Have: Start by empowering yourself with accurate information by fact-checking every piece of journalism you read and every headline you share on social media.
Have You Ever Felt More Anxious Trying To Find Answers To What You Fear?
The current COVID-19 pandemic is causing people from over the world to respond differently to it. Some people are becoming more compassionate while others are becoming colder, some people are coping through art and music while others are coping in negative ways such as drugs and alcohol. I’ll be discussing the sexual response to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Is The Pandemic Affecting You Sex Drive?
It’s interesting to hear about the conflicting reports about the COVID-19 pandemic having an affect on people’s sex drives.
The stress from the ongoing crisis and having to be on lockdown is putting a damper on desire for many people, but for others the stress is making them horny.
What Are The Reasons?
Reasons For Increased Sex Drive Include:
Reminded Of Our Own Mortality: The morbid 24/7 news coverage of the pandemic is constantly reminding us of our own mortality. In order to cope we change our attitudes and behaviors in ways designed to help us cope.
Loneliness In Isolation: I mentioned in a previous blog that we’re facing a loneliness epidemic partly due to the internet adversely affecting in-person connection. Lockdown and social distancing is making this problem worse, so some people are doubling down on not only connecting with new friends online, but also online dating that involves texting and video chat along with sexting.
Killing Boredom: A lot of singles and couples have been responding to lockdown boredom and spicing up their sex lives at the same time with the use of sex toys. It’s been reported that the same of sex toys increased since the pandemic began.
More Time On Our Hands: Due to other distractions in our lives such as working, long commutes, school, family obligations many couples have been too stressed or too busy to get intimate. Veering between social distancing and close cohabitation there have been a lot rediscovering each other while under lockdown.
Lockdown Heats Up Erotica: The COVID-19 pandemic has given birth to a new genre called quarantine erotica. Social distancing has led to the writing of raunchy stories about love in the time of COVID-19.
What Should You Be Aware Of?
If you are someone who has an increased sex drive as a reaction to this current crisis there are some facts you should be aware of.
Looming Global Condom Shortage: Due to Malaysia being on lockdown and the shutting down of factories owned by Karex, which is the largest condom company in the world had to shut down production resulting in a disruption in the global supply chain due to COVID-19. I recommend stocking up on extra condoms instead of extra toilet paper.
Online Dating Scams: If you’re starting out with online dating be aware of scammers. Online dating scams include catfishing, which is luring a victim into a relationship based on the attacker’s fictitious online persona.
Economic Slump: Be mindful of what the economy might do during and after this pandemic. If you don’t have a job or you might be losing your job due to a downturn be careful of unwanted pregnancy.
Spread Of STIs: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) already occur even without a pandemic, however since the medical system is tied up at the moment with COVID-19 patients it might be hard to get treatment.
COVID-19 And dating!
COVID-19 Has Made Dating Difficult: Even before the pandemic dating was already difficult. Now it’s a new challenge; due to social distancing we have to stand 6 feet from one another, we can’t hug each other or kiss each other because of the virus. Experts say that you’re at risk of catching the virus if you’re meeting someone for the first time or if you see someone, but don’t live together. If couples were already cohabitating then there’s less of a chance of getting sick. This is the reason why virtual dating is popular for singles right now.
How Are You Responding To This Crisis?
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I mentioned in Part.1 how the COVID-19 pandemic is a difficult time for everyone, particularly those who have issues with anxiety and anxiety disorders. I’ve been living with chronic anxiety long before this crisis started, but I’ve learned how to manage it in a holistic way. I’ll be sharing with you how I’ve been coping with COVID-19 anxiety.
I don’t have the luxury of working from home and I’m an essential worker, so it’s important for me to stay healthy and take a proactive approach toward my health by not only protecting my physical health, but my mental health as well.
I mentioned in my previous post about the mind-body connection; our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can have an effect on our overall health. How you cope with anxiety is very important.
Ways of Coping Include:
Attempt To Maintain a Routine: This pandemic has thrown my normal routine off and it’s difficult to stay focused. I’ve been using block scheduling to maintain a routine for not only work, but also for exercising and for writing this blog.
Focusing on Breathing: Just simple breathing works its magic on anxiety. Taking deep breaths while meditating calms your brain down while you’re focusing on the present moment.
Exercise: An excellent way to maintain a good mind-body connection is to get moving and exercise. Since the gym is closed and I don’t want to risk getting bit by ticks by walking in the woods, so I’ve been taking time after work to take long walks while social distancing.
Watching What I Eat: I mentioned in a post about how there’s a negative connection between processed foods and mental health, and that it’s really important to watch what you eat.
Recommended Foods To Reduce Anxiety Include:
Food To Avoid include:
Artificial and Refined Sugars
Foods High in Sodium
Getting Enough Sleep: Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep is important, pandemic or no pandemic, because when you don’t sleep well you not only have worsening anxiety, but also a weakened immune system.
Putting Limits On How Much Media I Consume: The 24/7 news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic will take a toll on my mental health and at the same time I need to stay informed about what’s happening, so it’s beneficial to limit how much news media I consume.
Limit alcohol consumption: In the short term having a drink or two is relaxing, however overtime excessive drinking can interfere with the chemicals in your brain that regulate mental health and cause worsening anxiety, depression and stress becomes harder to handle.
Connect with Friends Remotely: One of the most difficult aspects of this pandemic has been lockdowns and social distancing. Once a week I like to get together with friends to go hiking; I get my exercise and I socialize. However, due to social distancing I haven’t been able to go, so I connect with friends remotely through texting, social media and phone calls.
This is a tough regiment to live by to keep chronic anxiety under control and this challenging time we’re living in is making it even tougher.
How Are You Coping With This Tough Time?
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Escapism is the tendency to distract yourself or find relief from anything that’s unpleasant, boring or scary. This can come from seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.
What are the Pros and Cons of Escapism?
Escapism has many pros and cons.
Can be Therapeutic and Relieves Stress
You Can Become Someone Else
Temporarily Disconnect From Reality
Tendency to Be More Creative
Makes You Want To Travel More
Lack of Productivity
Can Lead to Addiction
Lose Touch With The Harsh Realities Of The World
Lose the Ability to Cope with Uncertainty
We all seek different forms of escapism as ways to cope with the stress and anxiety of day to day life. Some of us unwind by sitting by the pool and having a drink and there are others that like to play video games.
Escapism is a problem when we have a compulsive need to escape from reality and not address the issues that are unpleasant, boring or scary. When this happens escapism becomes an addiction.
What are Some Examples of Escapism?
Escapism comes in many forms including:
Sports: Sports are a positive form of escapism. Whether you’re watching your favorite team on television or sitting in the bleachers at the arena it’s a great way to release stress.
Working: We all need to work to live, but there’s a form of escapism in which someone lives to work by choice. This happens when someone has the need to escape from having to deal with issues in life such as lack of quality relationships, lack or personal fulfilment or lack of satisfaction with the direction your life is heading.
Consumption of Alcohol and Drugs (In Moderation): We all like to party in order to get a break from life.
Overeating: Food can be used as a form of escapism. The painful realities of our lives are too much for some of us to bare, if we don’t want to face unpleasant realities that bring us pain some of us overeat to take the pain away.
Video Games: We sometimes need to escape from reality by temporarily escaping from it.
Love: Love is an intense feeling of deep affection for another person. There are some people that view love as a form of escapism.
Social Media: I mention this topic a lot in this blog. Social media has its positives, but it has its negatives also including internet addiction.
How Escapism Affects your Wellbeing?
Escapism is how a lot of us cope with the challenges of life, but over time it can become unhealthy and can prevent us from doing what we want to do to improve our real lives.
Escapism can lead to these problems:
Dissociation and Destruction of Self
Depression and Anxiety
Less Time and Energy for Working On Real Life Issues
If you’re having trouble coping with stress and anxiety please download my anxiety expert list by clicking on the link below:
How To Turn Escapism Into Something Positive?
It’s ok to engage in escapism in small bouts throughout the day to rest your brain and get a break from less serious stuff. However, if you’re engaging in escapism more often and it becomes avoidance.
What is Avoidance?
Excessive escapism can turn into avoidance; it’s also known as avoidance coping, avoidance behaviors and escape coping. Whatever you call it; it’s a dysfunctional form of coping that leads to the changing of our behavior in order to avoid thinking about things or feeling emotions that make us feel uncomfortable.
Avoidance involves us trying to avoid stressors that cause anxiety. The more you avoid dealing with these stressors in your life, the more the underlying anxiety accumulates.
An example of avoidance is not coping with unresolved issues from a past relationship. The amount of lingering emotional baggage can lead to love addiction, which is a compulsive, chronic craving and pursuit of romantic love in an effort to get our sense of security and worth from another person. Love addiction can lead to a toxic relationship in which you lose your sense of self and deal with ever increasing depression and anxiety.
Another example of avoidance is video game addiction. Video games in general can be addictive and they’re designed to be addictive. It’s estimated that 5 to 15% of gamers are addicted to them. These gamers already have underlying issues with depression and anxiety due to things in their lives that are difficult to cope with, so they avoid facing these problems head on. Overtime this leads to a lot of problems, for example some people that become addicted to gaming have self-esteem problems in real life caused by issues such as underemployment, relationship issues and financial issues. In the gaming world they escape from these unpleasant realities by being in control in a fantasy world where you may have a higher status than in real life. This can lead to problems with dissociation and losing oneself in this fantasy world and you can lose the ability to cope with real life altogether.
How To Cope in a Healthier Way?
There are other ways of coping with unresolved life issues that are more positive.
These forms of coping include:
Talking Thru Problems: If there’s an unresolved problem in your life it’s important to talk about it and admit that its causing a problem instead of letting it fester.
Reframing Your Anxiety: I mentioned in a previous blog post about turning anxiety into a superpower about a form of therapy called ‘reframing’. It’s taking negative thoughts that cause anxiety and reframe them into something positive. For example, if you’re having negative thoughts about why you didn’t make a team in high school and ask yourself what positive things came from not making the team.
Minimize Stress: It’s important to keep stress to a minimum, because when it’s kept to a minimum anxiety is kept to a minimum.
Meditation: Meditation is a great way to focus on the present moment and be able to cope with reality.
Live Your Life Like a Character in a Game: This is an interesting idea. Certain video games allow you to level up when you gain enough experience points. For example in Role Playing Games (RPG’s) such as ‘Final Fantasy’ you eventually gain a level when you gather enough experience points. When you gain a level and manage the money you earn you’re able to equip new weapons, you gain status upgrades and you have more hit points. What if you live your life like a character in an RPG; when you have an unresolved issue you want to tackle and when you do it can feel like a level upgrade. The same thing can occur in other areas of your life; when you earn a new college degree or acquire a new professional license and become a Master at what you do it’s like a character from ‘Final Fantasy’ named Cecil upgrading his job from Dark Knight to Paladin. If you ever played one of these games you’ll understand what I mean.
Make Your Real Life More Fun: If you’re feeling bored with your life and you have tendencies to want to escape into an imaginary world try planning more fun real life experiences. These can include traveling, spending time with friends and family and/or going to the beach.
“Escape” From The Life You Already Have: If you’re unhappy with your life and need to make a change start by learning new things that you can use to make your situation better. Instead of wasting your time on your laptop binge watching shows on NetFlix start enrolling in an online course instead. You’re already spending so much time on your computer anyway try using that time to improve yourself.
This post concludes the series on New Year’s Resolutions. Stress and Anxiety can be kept to a minimum and easier to cope when you take a step toward making some positive changes to your life.
Eat less junk food, drink more water, find better ways to cope with stress and most importantly keep escapism to a minimum.
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I’ve been thinking about the kind of New Year’s Resolutions while I was doing research for my previous post.
I mentioned that there are many people that make a New Year’s Resolution by changing their diets by avoiding high fructose corn syrup.
Also, there are people that vow to reduce the amount of stress they have in their lives as a New Year’s Resolution. This week I’ll be taking a look at stress and what you can do to cope with it.
What Exactly is Stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response, whether they’re physical, mental and emotional responses.
Stress is a normal part of life and changes from your environment, your body and your thoughts can be triggers.
Two Types of Stress
Acute Stress: Acute or short term stress is caused by triggers such as a traffic jam, an argument with your significant other, negative conversations or finding out that somebody broke into your house while you’re not there.
Chronic Stress: Chronic or long-term stress is caused by triggers such as a disease and disorder such as a chronic illness, abuse of any kind; whether it’s mental or emotional, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one or loss of a spouse due to divorce.
Symptoms of Stress
Low Energy and Loss of Sexual Desire
Unexplained Aches, Pains and Tense Muscles
Lowered Immune System
Elevated Blood Pressure
Being Pessimistic and Cynical
Forgetfulness and Disorganization
These symptoms occur in both acute and chronic stress. The differences occur when acute stress is short term and your body returns to a normal state and chronic stress is long-term and causes health problems when you can’t cope with it.
We’re Living in Very Stressful Times
The majority of people around the world always experience some form of stress, it’s a part of life. However, younger generations including millennials and gen z are more likely to be chronically stressed all the time.
Have you ever noticed when you’re looking around a popular coffee shop and noticed how many younger adults such as millennials always seem on edge and unable to relax? Also, you start feeling anxious yourself just being in that environment?
Millennials in particular have a difficult time managing stress. At least 12% of this age group has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder which is twice the rate of previous generations. One thing that makes the Millennial Generation unique are the problems they face. There’s so much technological change and economic changes happening right now that it’s causing problems that previous generations didn’t have to face.
The most profound technological change in the past decade has been the rise of devices such as smartphones and tablets along with social media.
It’s estimated that 60% of Millennials are attached to their smartphones and/or tablets and it’s been reported that stress is at a higher rate in direct association with the use of technology.
Despite being more connected to the rest of the world like never before; many of us feel more lonely. About half of all people who constantly check their devices constantly feel isolated even when they’re among family and one-third of checkers say they are less likely to meet with their friends and family face-to-face due to technology. Why put the effort into calling somebody on the phone when you can either text them or communicate via Facebook or Instagram.
I’ve mentioned in some of my previous posts that technologies such as smartphones and social media are neither good nor bad. They have revolutionized how we live our lives, however they come with common negative effects.
Unnecessary Stress and Anxiety
Cheating and Relationship Problems
Economic stress affects everybody regardless of generation whether it’s triggered by changes in income caused by job loss or unexpected expenses due to a medical emergency.
About ½ of Americans say their expenses are equal or greater than their incomes. Despite an improving economy money worries are still compounded by a rising cost of living, interest accruing on student loans and credit card debt, income volatility caused by a lack of job security and technological changes that lead to change and uncertainty in the future.
Millennials, along with other generations face a challenging and increasingly complicated world that can lead to more stress and anxiety that can cause problems for your physical and mental well being.
If you’re feeling stressed and anxious please download my anxiety expert list by clicking the link below:
How To Be Less Stressed in 2020?
Stress will always be around in some form of another, so it’s important to learn how to cope with it as part of your New Year’s Resolution for 2020. Here are some tips to reduce stress.
Start by Using Your Devices Less So You Can Get More Sleep: I’ve mentioned in a previous post about how smartphones and tablets emit a blue light that inhibit the production of melatonin in your brain. When this happens your brain thinks that it’s still daytime and by using your devices less before you go to bed your brain will produce the necessary amount of melatonin.
Sleep Better: Get more sleep. When you get the necessary amount of sleep your body is physically and mentally rejuvenated and you’re more resilient in the face of stress.
Break Bad Habits: Bad habits that contribute to increased stress and anxiety include overeating, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, drinking too much coffee or redbull. It’s easier to cope with stressful situations if healthy habits are adopted instead including exercising more, reducing caffeine intake and eating right.
Find a New Hobby: There is nothing like a good hobby to take your mind off whatever is stressing you out. Popular hobbies include gardening, blogging, cooking along with archery, hiking, snowshoeing and I know people that like to rebuild cars for fun.
Indulge In Physical Activity: The two hormones that increase in your body when you’re in a stressful situation are adrenaline and cortisol. These are the same fight-or-flight hormones that protected our ancestors by allowing them to run away from danger quicker. When this fight-or-flight response is activated in modern times it’s important to exercise in order to metabolize these hormones and bring your body back to its normal state.
Spend More Time in Nature: Spending time in nature has a soothing effect on the mind as you breathe in extra oxygen produced by the plants around you.
Spend More Time with Family and Friends Outside if Social Media: There’s a difference between online friendships and face-to-face friendships. Online friendships can make us feel lonely despite having a connection vs. face-to-face friendships that can lead to emotional connections. Feeling connected to other people makes life less stressful.
Make More Love: I’m being 100% serious about this. Sex not only makes us feel good it’s good for us, because it can decrease symptoms of stress such as anxiety and high blood pressure.
Stress is a part of life and there are many healthy ways of coping with it.