Feeling at the mercy of your moods? Here’s how to keep yourself on an even keel.
If feelings are momentary, like waves or ripples on the water, mood is the swell beneath, deeper and longer lasting. Being in a good mood is plain sailing. We feel positive, confident, energetic and productive – well disposed towards others and ourselves. But a bad mood drags us down, and gives us a negative slant on the world, so the going feels much tougher. Some fluctuation in mood is as natural as the tides. But some of us have a rougher ride than others. Whether you are a ‘moody person’, or find it easy to stay on an even keel, it helps to know what stresses or supports your mood. It may even help prevent mood problems like anxiety or depression.
1. Spot your patterns
Modern 24-hour lifestyles can play havoc with our moods. Junk food, too much alcohol, irregular hours and skimping on sleep and relaxation time can all sap our energy and our mood. Keep a mood diary so you can see your patterns and use it to spot the links between low mood and lifestyle habits. Make a list of your mood stressors and supporters. Think how you can act on this today. Sugar rushes and dips can have a major affect on mood. Try not to skip meals, make sure you cut back on sugar and processed foods, and carry a wholefood snack like fruit or wholegrain crackers for those cranky, low-sugar moments.
2. Go for calm
We’re at our best in mood states that are calm and energetic, and at our worst when our mood is tired and tense. When looking for mood stressors to avoid or reduce, and mood supporters to do more of, opt for things that boost your energy and lend you calm and purpose. Think yourself to a better place. Play out a time when you felt confident and happy like a movie in your mind. Remember how you felt, how you looked, how you held yourself. Think yourself back into the part and feel like that person again.
3. Watch for hidden dangers
Beware of sneaky mood stressors that pretend to be your friend. If you’re feeling tense or down, alcohol and sugary snacks may give you a temporary boost, but after the high comes the low. Sinking into inactivity or spending too much time alone, may seem like a comfort, but can send you on a downward spiral. Use your diary to experiment with healthier ‘pick-me-ups’. Feeling down can drive you into behaviours that make a bad mood worse. So hold back from speaking out or making rash decisions until your judgement’s less clouded.
4. Turn a negative into a positive
Not everyone has a cheerful disposition, but there’s some hope for grumpier souls. Studies suggest a grouchy outlook can be helpful on occasions, encouraging the focused and critical thinking needed for certain tasks. So try to direct that negative energy into something more positive – though clearly this won’t work for full-blown depression. When you’re feeling less cheerful, are you more focused, more critical, more measured? Does feeling miserable help you express yourself creatively? Learn how your mood works and make it work for you.
5. Catch it early
However you choose to manage your mood, the key is to catch it early when you first feel your mood going down.
That way you’ll stay on top of your moods instead of letting your moods control you.
So look out for the warning signs and have your list of mood supporters at the ready.
You may notice your energy and mood regularly dipping at certain times of the day, week or month.
Or falling low in the winter months. Be aware of your trouble-spots and make sure you call on your mood supporters at these times.
This article is part of our TogetherAll article series where we highlight content available on the TogetherAll platform. TogetherAll is FREE for all FFWPU-UK members. For more information, please visit: https://familyfedcommunity.co.uk/togetherall/