Having daily routines can be invaluable during both hypo/manic and depressive episodes. When you're flying high, they can be steadying. If you're irritable, they can be calming. And if you're depressed, they can get you moving.
Routines are best established during stable periods. One I feel is most important is what I call a "morning ritual" and is a particularly good one during an irritable or depressed mood.
- First, shower, bathe or wash your face. If you need to wash your hair daily, do that, too. (If you need to clip fingernails or toenails, after a bath or shower is the best time.) Apply toner, moisturizer and/or sunscreen as needed.
- Men - shave and put on deodorant
Women - shave legs and underarms (if needed) and put on deodorant
- Brush and floss your teeth.
- Get dressed. And if you don't have to dress for work, still choose clean clothes that are comfortable, fit properly, and aren't worn or faded. I find that even if I'm wearing a decorated t-shirt, I feel a little more positive about myself if I tuck it into my jeans than if I let it hang out sloppily. And put shoes on!
- Now think about what else you'd do if you were going to work in an office. Men with beards or those who didn't use a pleasantly scented after-shave might put on cologne. For me, it means putting on eye makeup (at minimum) because I look extremely tired and plain without it. If I feel up to it, I'll also put on base, blush, etc. (I almost never wear lipstick, so I leave that out.)
- There's a final step for women: put on earrings that match your outfit. Doesn't sound like much, does it? But it gives that last bit of oomph to your appearance, and the action says, "I care about myself."
If you're irritable, taking time to pamper yourself and improve your appearance can be very soothing. If you're up in the clouds, a routine like this can ground you. And if you're depressed, it can both lift you and make you less likely to go back to bed - which is something you really don't want to do if you're wearing makeup and dangling earrings.
Of course, your own morning routine may be quite a bit different from mine. The important thing is to have one.
Since I work from home, I find that performing this ritual gets me moving sooner than if I just plop down in front of the computer without it. I've said to myself, "I'm going to work."
Now, I'm not claiming that it's easy to establish and maintain such a routine. It takes some mindfulness and discipline. Don't build up negativity over missed days - just go forward.
I'll be honest - I didn't do my ritual today. I wish I had - but I'm going to let that go and not beat myself up about it. Tomorrow's ritual will be its own.