If you're bipolar, the holiday season may come accompanied by a great deal of dread.

It may be hard to be festive and enjoy the holiday cheer when you're struggling financially, when you're beating yourself up for being little better off than you were last year at this time, or while wallowing in guilt over any improprieties you may have committed during your last manic jag.

Spending sprees or unemployment may have left you with little money for buying gifts for your friends and family. The thought of spending time with friends and family may fill you with anxiety.

How, then, to survive the holidays?

Here are seven holiday survival tips to help people with bipolar disorder get through the holidays:

1. Avoid alcohol
Aside from the fact that many of us with bipolar disorder also have addiction issues, the medications you may be taking often react poorly with alcohol. Many of the medications commonly prescribed for bipolar disorder are hard enough on the liver as it is – add alcohol to the mix and you're asking for trouble. Besides, as the adage goes, you won't find any solutions in the bottle.

2. Choose social events wisely
Spending time with other people is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but it's alright to be picky. Avoid people and places that trigger mood episodes. If you know you would be tempted to drink at a certain party, feel no guilt about sending your regrets beforehand. For events you do attend, have a backup plan in case it becomes overwhelming – you can leave at any time. You don't owe anyone an explanation and you don't need to make excuses. Take care of yourself.

3. Limit spending on gifts
We have a great tradition in our family of drawing names for gifts and putting spending limits on the gift. This takes a lot of pressure off, knowing you don't have to buy the perfect gift for everyone, and you can practically eliminate shopping time. Money is a huge issue for most of us, and the temptation is to overspend and use plastic. Don't. Instead, put a little bit of cash aside each week for occasions like the holidays that happen every year. Spend only what you have. This may actually allow you to make your gifts more creative and speak from the heart. If you have no money, make a card and tell the person how much they mean to you.

4. Stay on a regular sleep schedule, eat well and exercise
Missing a night of good sleep can be worse for you than missing a dose of medication. Keep a regular schedule. Watch what you eat – we tend to eat to calm our emotions in the holidays. Eat what you need for good health but don't overindulge. If you aren't exercising daily, take the time to establish the habit – you might even ask for a gym membership or a beginner's yoga class for Christmas.

5. 'Just say no'
When we're feeling good, we're feeling really good. The temptation may be to over-commit to activities or to agree to do things out of wanting to please rather from the sincere desire to do those things. This can lead to you feeling overwhelmed, triggering a depressive episode. Practice saying no, even to things you want to do. See how many times you can say no to people and get away with it. This will make it easier to say no to things you don't want to do or you're ambivalent about.

6. Be honest
If you're worried about money for gifts, concerned about attending a party, or anxious about seeing someone, be as open and honest as you can be beforehand. Clear the air before the actual event so that you can enjoy it more. Sometimes telling how you feel can make you very vulnerable, but this openness is a strength, no matter how people may react.

7. Keep responsibilities minimal
Think twice before inviting the whole family over for dinner. If there's someone else who can be host or hostess, let them and perhaps offer to help. The less stress you have, the better able you'lll be to take care of yourself, enjoy the holidays, and allow others to enjoy you.

I hope these seven tips help you. In most families and circles of friends, seeing you doing well will be the best gift of all. Don't worry so much about buying presents – you are a worthwhile human being, and that's present enough.

Author's Bio: 

David Morgan is the creator of 12 Steps for Bipolar Disorder and Yoga for Bipolar.