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Does a Bipolar Routine Make You Too Rigid?

January 26, 2024 Natasha Tracy

I have a bipolar routine that I adhere to pretty rigidly. This is important for my mental wellness. However, I know that one reason some people don't want a bipolar routine is because they fear the rigidity that can come with it. I can understand that, so let's take a look at bipolar routines and their rigidity.

(I've talked about bipolar routines before, and if you're new to them, you might want to read this.)

Varying Rigidity in Bipolar Routines

I consider bipolar routines very important, and I tend to fall on the rigid side of keeping that routine. I'm quite rigid about time to bed, time to get up, time to take medications, and a few other things. This rigid bipolar routine means I can't stay out late. It means I can't stay somewhere without planning ahead and having my medications with me. It means I can't sleep in on weekends. I find these things very important and choose to be rigid about this part of my bipolar routine because it keeps me stable.

Then again, there are aspects of my bipolar routine that are less rigid. When I eat and what I eat are looser. When I rest and if I meditate at that time are looser. How much coffee I drink a day is looser. I have "rules," if you like, for all those things, but they are not nearly as rigid as things like sleep and medication.

Dealing with the Rigid Parts of My Bipolar Routine

I truly believe the rigid parts of my bipolar routine work to keep me as stable as possible. I also know that if I only do them sporadically, they don't work. It's for this reason that they must be rigid. If I start messing around with my sleep, I will become unstable and then have to deal with trying to regain stability, which is much harder than keeping it.

For those reasons, being rigid is worth it. True, I would like it if I were more of a go-with-the-flow kind of person, but I just can't be. My brain won't let me. "Go with the flow" is also pronounced as "go to the hospital" where I'm concerned. That is decidedly not worth it.

Dealing with the Less Rigid Parts of My Bipolar Routine

As for the less rigid parts of my bipolar routine, those are easier to work with. I can be flexible in some ways. The important thing to remember is that maintaining them as much as possible matters. I can't just throw them out the window entirely, but I can alter them now and then and still be okay.

If You're Worried About Rigidity in Your Bipolar Routine

As I said, I actually consider rigidity to be really important in some aspects of a bipolar routine, but not all. If you're worried you're becoming too rigid, remember these things:

  • Divide the aspects of your routine into the groups of critical, important, and nice-to-have. Critical aspects are those you can't miss without getting sick. Important aspects are those you can miss occasionally and still be okay. Nice-to-have aspects are parts of your routine you like to include but can be missed more than occasionally without deleterious effects. This allows you to realize that not everything requires the same level of rigidity.
  • Remind yourself of the price you must pay for not being rigid in the above three categories. 
  • Make the critical aspects of your bipolar routine a priority and remind yourself that by doing so, you are prioritizing your mental health. It's okay to be rigid when not being so results in mental health harm.
  • Next, prioritize important aspects of your bipolar routine. You need to focus on maintaining that part of your routine the vast majority of the time. However, give yourself some grace when you need to change an item on occasion.
  • Maintain your nice-to-have bipolar routine aspects whenever possible, and remember that the more you do them, the more benefit they will have. However, allow for some flexibility in your day by moving these items around if you can. 
  • Communicate your bipolar routine, along with your priorities, to others. Tell them you would like their support in maintaining your routine to facilitate wellness.

In short, get support and be as rigid as you need to be, but no more. You deserve to go with the flow sometimes, too.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2024, January 26). Does a Bipolar Routine Make You Too Rigid?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2024/1/does-a-bipolar-routine-make-you-too-rigid



Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Linda Jones
January, 30 2024 at 8:42 pm

I’m the opposite, I have to feel free to go with things when I want to and not to feel forced to do something if I’m not feeling I can , go with the flow is how it is for me

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