Try to create a low stress environment

There is now a lot of evidence that people with mental health problems are more likely to relapse if they live in households where there are a lot of arguments or they feel criticised. This kind of environment raises stress levels which can trigger mood swings.

Of course, it’s so easy to recommend this and so hard to do. We all get cross and frustrated with each other at times. A few things that might help create a low stress environment include:

A. Take time out. If you feel yourself getting into an argument then just leave the situation and give yourself time to calm down. Check out ‘Module 7’ and ‘Module 8’ for ways to manage your own stress.

B. Acceptance is key. When someone you love is unwell you naturally want them get better as quickly as possible. Accepting that you cannot make the mood swings disappear is difficult but important. Accepting that your relative is doing their best to manage their moods, even if their attempts don’t seem to be working, is also important. This acceptance can free you up to provide support to help your relative recover in the time they need to do this.

C. Hunt for the positives. Being praised for doing something makes us feel great and more likely to do it again. Looking for small improvements and giving positive feedback on these can be very helpful, especially when someone is low in mood.

D. Draw on the good times. Bipolar disorder is a fluctuating condition. When things are bad it can be helpful to recall times when things were better, and to remember that the mood swings do come and go and that things will improve again.