Christmas is that time of the year that can be very exciting.  Maybe too exciting, especially for those suffering from bipolar disorder.  It can be too easy to fall prey to a manic episode if you're not careful.


There are ways to avoid going into a manic episode during the holidays, however:


·         Watch your sleep habits

Stick to your regular sleep schedule.  Sometimes holiday festivities can go rather late, and that can be bad for your bipolar disorder.  Losing sleep can lead to a manic episode if you're not careful.  Too many social gatherings can disrupt your sleep patterns, so be sure to watch your sleep habits carefully.


·         Watch your eating habits

I know all that food can be very tempting at holiday time.  But eating a healthy diet is part of managing your bipolar disorder, so try to keep your "holiday eating" excesses to a minimum.  Fill yourself up with food from the veggie trays first, before you eat the more fattening things, and you'll be too full for all those tempting desserts!  If you do want to have dessert, try to take a small portion instead of a full portion.


·         Stick to your exercise routine

It may be hard to stick to your regular exercise routine around all the parties and family gatherings around the holidays, but do the best you can.  One simple thing you can do is park further away from the gathering so that you have to walk further to the door.  Walking is one of the greatest forms of exercise.


·         Keep the excitement to a minimum

Christmas is a very exciting time – all those parties, all those people you haven't seen since last year, all those presents!  And all that preparation.  Make sure you don't let your excitement get out of hand.  Don't make more preparations than you can handle.  Don't overdo things, just pace yourself.


·         Keep your stress at manageable levels

Sometimes being around family can be very stressful for someone with bipolar disorder.  Try to avoid Aunt Mary's critical attitude and stay away from her if possible.  And if Grandma's complaining gets on your nerves, ease away from her at the first chance you get.  If the noise from all the children make you stressed, try to stay in another part of the room.  If you need to, don't attend the family gathering this year – just tell them (or have your supporter tell them) that you're not up to it.  They'll understand.


·         Don't forget your medication

Don't forget to take your medication, wherever you are!  If you're going to be somewhere else when it's time to take your medication, be sure you have it with you.  Pillboxes are good for this.  Plan ahead of time.  If you do happen to miss a dose (we're all human), just make sure you take the next dose.


·         Continue to see your doctor and therapist

Keep your regular appointments with your doctor/psychiatrist and therapist, even during holiday time.  Make sure, however, that you check with them in advance about their holiday schedule.  Many of them take this time to be with their own families.  Also check about what they have as far as emergency plans in case you need them during this time and the offices are closed or you run out of medication.


·         Try to do your shopping ahead of time

Instead of all the pressure of doing all that last-minute shopping and noise and hassle of the crowded malls, this year do your Christmas shopping ahead of time.  Make a list, and stick to it.  It will make your shopping easier, and be less stressful for you.


Holidays don't have to make you manic.  As long as you stick as closely to your normal routines and management of your bipolar disorder, you should be able to make it through them ok without going into an episode.