Friday, December 21, 2012

Bipolar disorder and making changes in our environment to promote better health

perceiving the world around us....
There is much in our environment we can control.  In turn, it would have a healthful effect on us.  What we take in through our senses obviously have an impact; then, why not make our environment a good one?

Visual reminders

If we have two options before us - a cluttered room, or a room with just the needed objects - which are we likely to choose?  Perhaps the question sounds childishly simple.  Yet, too often we all find not only our rooms but also our lives cluttered with excess baggage.  Amid all the clutter, we can lose sight of the necessary things.

So it begs the question, first: "What things are important to me?"  We all will find, there is room for prioritizing and then organizing.  The act of doing may not be the most enjoyable, and one to be done repeatedly; but the results are assuredly beneficial.

You may have in front of you an important project which, you intend to finish.  There may be items related to whatever your hobby is - a book, camera, journal, computer etc.  It would help to keep a small calendar and notepad at hand.  We can think of simple examples.  This way, we have our needed objects in front of us.  Maintenance and cleaning up also becomes so much easier.  If we had reversed the situation, and had everything thrown around in a haphazard fashion, it would lead to undue stress.

Relaxing audio

For millenniums, humans have understood the value of sound.  If you go to, or see documentaries of the remotest parts of the world, you would find even small tribal communities using dance and music for recreation.  It is not a thing they had to be taught.

We can use the sounds around us for our advantage.  There is much music to choose from.  We can't be listening to music all the time, although mp3 players and iPod can change all that too.(Just kidding!)  Spending some time of the day, reading the newspaper or watching the news is a good reminder of many of the realities surrounding us.

There is also another part of our audio-environment we do easily overlook.  The way family members or friends talk among themselves is important.  We don't always have the most intelligent or perfect sayings.  However, if we have mutual respect and care, our speech habits would naturally follow a better course.  We would be less inclined to vent out negative sayings.  Even if we do, rectification would be easier.

Other examples

There are some very down-to-earth examples, but they do have an effect on us.  Waking up and taking a shower is rejuvenating.  Clean sheets and pillow covers on a comfortable bed can lead to better sleep.  Spending time in the sun (without getting sunburn, or getting a heatstroke) is a natural antidepressant.  Wearing clean clothes, helps us feel a bit better even if we are depressed.  Why do all these things help us?

The answer is very simple.  There is an underlying principle - the principle of practicality and simplicity.  Taking care of oneself does involve work.  Bipolar disorder interferes with it to varying degrees.  Some times the intensity of the illness can be so, that just surviving through the episode can take up all our strength.  During that time, all these fancy ideas seem like just that....."ideas".


Bipolar disorder is very powerful, that cannot be denied.  If we can work with the caregivers on a simple down-to-earth level, we are better equipped to handle the other challenges of life.  We can even find joy.

The goal here has been to direct our attention to the everyday life.  When profound issues and crushing pains surround a person, one cannot think of simple answers as possible solutions.  True, these are not solutions.  These are examples, that direct our attention to things we can do to cope.

Originally posted in 2010, in the post Environment and bipolar disorder

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