“Triggers control bipolar disorder,” said Julie A. Fast, author of best selling books on bipolar disorder
Common triggers can include lack of sleep, time changes, new people and relationships problems, she says. Unfortunately, travel has all these elements. This is why it is very important for you to plan ahead and prepare for your trip.
Here are some tips to help:
- Prioritize sleep: Sleep is the main challenge when you are traveling. “If you are traveling to a different time zone, try to get on that sleep pattern before you leave,” says Fast. Also, make sure you pack early so that you are not scrambling the night before and missing out on sleep. You can also speak with your doctor about using a sleep aid.
- Book flights around your schedule: While it can be helpful, don’t try to save money by booking a 4 a.m. flight or another time that doesn’t work for you. Buy flights with fewer stops, and if you have to change planes, make sure to schedule enough time between flights. It is better to be bored than stressed.
- Bring extra medication: You might run into a few problems, such as flight delays and extra layovers. So you might end up traveling for longer than you first thought, which is why you don’t want run out of your medication.
- Plan ahead for what might go wrong: “In preparation [for your trip], think about bipolar first, and plan accordingly to minimize triggers,” Fast said. Ask yourself, what’s caused problems in the past? What might cause problems this time? How can you prepare for those problems? “Planning ahead is the only way to prevent the mood swings that sneak up on you when you travel.”
- Make time for exercise: Movement is crucial for your mental, physical and emotional health. However, it can be hard to fit physically activities in when you are traveling. If you are at the airport early or have time between your flights, walk around for a bit. If you are traveling by car, make sure to stop every few hours to walk around, stretch or even run for a bit.
- Just Breathe: When you feel yourself get anxious or overwhelmed, focus on your breath. Slow down any panicked panting by taking slow, deep breaths.
Traveling with bipolar disorder can be tricky. This is why it is very important for you to plan ahead, and be prepared. By doing so, you can enjoy a worry free vacation.