How can I help myself?
Dealing with hypomania or mania can feel really difficult, but there are lots of things you can try to help manage your moods and look after your wellbeing.
Get to know your moods and warning signs
Monitor your mood. It can be helpful to keep track of your moods over a period of time. You could try using a mood diary (there are many freely available, such as MoodPanda or, if your mania or hypomania is part of bipolar disorder, this one from Bipolar UK).
Understand your triggers. For example, if you often feel high after a late night, it can help to recognise these patterns. Then you can take action to avoid the trigger, or minimise its impact.
Learn your warning signs. You may start to notice that there is a pattern to how you feel before an episode. This could be:
- changes in your sleeping pattern
- changes in your eating patterns or appetite
- changes in your behaviour.
Being aware that you are about to have a change in mood can help you make sure you have support systems in place and that you can focus on looking after yourself. Triggers and warning signs can be very personal, so it may take a little while to work out what yours are. It can also help to discuss any warning signs with family and friends, so they can help you.
“I believed that I was always right and everyone else was always wrong. I was bubbly and my confidence was really high. At work I would complete tasks simultaneously and felt that the work was way beneath me. I also started spending a lot and would spend almost all my wage.”
Make a self-management plan
When you are well, make a plan for what you can do if you start getting hypomanic or manic, to manage your symptoms and prevent things getting worse.
You might need to try a few things to find out what works for you. For example:
- make yourself go to bed, even if you don’t feel tired
- try to avoid alcohol and caffeine
- avoid stimulating activities
- avoid noisy, bright or busy environments and go somewhere quiet and calm
- do activities you find calming or soothing
- do relaxation or deep breathing exercises
- avoid making big purchases – you might want to ask someone you trust to help you manage your finances while you are hypomanic or manic
- postpone making major life decisions
- avoid situations where you may take part in risky behaviour, such as driving irresponsibly or taking drugs
You might also consider making a lasting power of attorney so that someone could help you manage your finances if you became unwell again.
“I have to be careful how much social contact I have – too much can send me high. I have to start saying ‘no’ to demands.”
Take practical steps
Stick to a routine. Having a routine can help you feel calmer if your mood is high and can help with feeling more stable in general. Your routine could include:
- day-to-day activities, such as when you eat meals and go to sleep
- time for relaxation or mindfulness
- time for hobbies and social plans
- taking any medication at the same time each day – this can also help you manage side effects and make sure that you have a consistent level of medication in your system
Manage stress. Stress can trigger hypomanic or manic episodes. There are lots of things you can do to make sure you don’t get stressed or look after yourself when you do encounter stress. See our pages on managing stress for more information.
Manage your finances. You can contact the Investor and Financial Education Council (IFEC)for free, impartial financial advice. Also see our page on money and mental health for information on the relationship between money worries and mental health.
Plan ahead for a crisis. When you’re in the middle of a crisis it can be difficult to let others know what kind of help you would find most helpful, so it can be useful to make a crisis plan while you are well which sets out what you would like to happen and how you would like to be treated when you are unwell.
“I have an alarm set on my phone so I take my meds at the same time every day.”
Look after your physical health
Get enough sleep. For lots of people with hypomania or mania, disturbed sleep can be both a trigger and a symptom of episodes. Getting enough sleep can help you keep your mood stable or shorten an episode. See our pages on coping with sleep problems for more information.
Eat a healthy diet. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help you feel well, think clearly and calm your mood. See our pages on food and mood for more tips.
Exercise regularly. Exercise can help by using up energy when you’re feeling high and releasing endorphins (‘feel-good’ chemicals in the brain) when you’re feeling low. Gentle exercise, like yoga or swimming, can also help you relax and manage stress. See our pages on physical activity for more information.
“The trick for me is not to be seduced by the ‘high’ and to look after myself – get enough sleep, good nutrition.”
Involve friends and family
It can help to have conversations with trusted friends or family about your condition, how it affects you and how they can help. For example:
- Have honest conversations while you’re well about how things feel for you, and what you do and don’t find helpful. For example: ‘I find it frustrating that you think I’m hypomanic every time I’m happy or have a good day,’ or: ‘It’s really helpful when you notice I haven’t been sleeping much and remind me to get a good night’s sleep.’
- Consider involving trusted friends or family members in your self-care planning. For example, if you’re not sure what your triggers or warning signs are, you could ask if they have seen any patterns or behaviours around the times that you become unwell. If you find it difficult to spot your warning signs yourself, you could share these with someone and ask them to let you know if they see them developing. They may notice things you don’t, or be able to suggest strategies that you haven’t thought of.
- Share your self-care strategies and self-management plan so they understand how to recognise when you need help and what they can do. This will also help them understand the difference between times when you feel like you can cope on your own, and times when they need to help or get you more support.
“The hardest thing to explain is the racing thoughts when I’m manic. It’s like I’ve got four brains and they’re all on overdrive…it can be scary but also euphoric at the same time.”
Try peer support
Making connections with people with similar or shared experiences can be really helpful. You could try talking to other people who have experienced hypomania or mania to share your feelings, experiences and ideas for looking after yourself.
And if you’re seeking peer support on the internet, it’s important to look after your online wellbeing.