Understanding your mood and learning how to swing your mood

No one is immune to bad moods. In the perfect world, we would all be happy and content around the clock. In reality, our mood rarely stays the same throughout the day. In fact, it can change in a matter of minutes. Everybody has mood swings and they are a natural part of most people’s lives. We have a period of feeling on top of the world, and then later in the same day, we might feel tired, lethargic and beaten down. We might know exactly what causes the change, or our mood might take us by surprise. However, being moody is not exclusively dependent on our own actions.

So what affects our mood?

  • Hormones
    Hormones
    The reason pregnant women are more prone to mood swings, is that their hormone levels might be elevated and unstable. Even the most sensible woman might lose her cool in the battle against her hormones. Hormones also affect our mood during menstruation or menopause, when suffering from thyroid conditions or diabetes, when taking certain medications, or even as a result of tumours (benign or cancerous). [1]

  • Environment
    Environment
    It is no secret that being uncomfortable can make you irritable. It might be too cold or too hot. You might get caught in the rain without an umbrella or have to wear a formal suit on a very warm day. You might be surrounded by loud noises or foul smells. You might not even necessarily notice the irritant, yet your mood is likely to be affected in a negative way.

  • Physical discomfort
    Physical discomfort
    Unfortunately, our environment is not the only thing that could make us uncomfortable. You might experience post-exercise soreness, or feel stiff from the lack of exercise. You might be pregnant or simply wear uncomfortable footwear. You might be experiencing pain or discomfort induced by acute or chronic illness. Pain triggers emotional responses orchestrated by various regions of our brain. [2] Living with pain can affect a person’s mood and even promote a person’s dependence on prescription medications designed to treat the pain. [3] Assessing mood is therefore an important part of holistic pain assessment. Unfortunately, we are not always in tune with our bodies, and therefore might not even be aware that an internal sensation might be negatively affecting our mood.

  • Mental or emotional discomfort
    Mental or emotional discomfort
    It is not uncommon to be in a bad mood as a result of feeling stressed or anxious. Whether your emotions are brought on by fear of an upcoming exam, sadness after a break-up or anxiety tied to an important event in your life, remember that your mood doesn’t only affect the people around you, it can also have detrimental long-term effects on your mental health.

  • Moon cycles
    Moon cycles
    The idea that moon cycles affect people’s mood has been around for centuries. Even though some studies completely dismiss it, other research suggests that there is truth to these ancient theories. Some people might be affected very little or not at all, however the moon can have a huge impact on a certain part of the population. The effects range from mood swings and bounds of depressive episodes to sleep disturbances and manic behaviour. When the timing of such mood changes corresponds with lunar cycles, it is only fair to draw a connection between the two. [4]

Does being moody automatically equate to a negative experience? Not at all. In fact, next time you are in the mood, why not explore your moodiness? Experiencing a bad mood gives you an opportunity to get to know yourself better. It really allows you to direct your attention inwards and get some feedback as to what is happening in your internal world, forged from our inner thoughts, emotions, memories, beliefs and expectations. With learning about yourself comes an opportunity for growth. By understanding and accepting our inner world we find a way to overcome the things that may hold us back, even if that means taking a glimpse at the darkest corners of our mind.

By practising the yogic principle of Tapas (not to be confused with Spanish food) you learn to stay present with your emotions, reactions and moods, even when the easier option would be to distance yourself from tough truths. 

Here are a few ways you can quickly shift your mood:

  • Exercise
    Exercise
    Physical activity releases endorphins, a feeling that is sometimes referred to as “runner’s high”. However, your chosen exercise can be whatever you enjoy most – choose an activity that makes you feel good about yourself, whether it’s running, yoga or kickboxing.

  • Aromatherapy
    Aromatherapy
    Another way to quickly change your mood for the better is to create a pleasant environment through smells and sounds. When it comes to aromatherapy, certain smells are credited with being able to help with stress, anxiety, fear or sadness. However, smell can be a powerful memory trigger, so don’t be afraid to experiment and customise the essential oils blend that works for you. [5]

  • Self-care
    Self-care
    Whether it’s a small action like treating yourself to a turmeric latte, or an all-day activity, such as a spa day with your best friend, setting some time for yourself and acknowledging your needs for physical and emotional comfort can have a powerful effect on your mood.

If you are looking for a more long-term solution, consider working on the following:

  • Breath awareness  Breath awareness
    For the majority of our waking time, we go about our day not even noticing the way our body sustains us through breath. Breathing mindfully means observing your breath without imposing any judgment or expectation. Keeping your awareness with your breath can help you from following a negative thought pattern or spiralling out when you are feeling overwhelmed. Having the ability to stay aware of your breath also leads to being able to control your breath. If you are prone to experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, exercising controlled and measured breath is a sure way to help you relieve the symptoms of anxiety-led mental disorders and help you stabilise your mood.
  • Look within, acknowledge what’s there
    If you are feeling moody, the best way to get to the root of the problem is to direct your attention within and try to impartially acknowledge if the problem lies within. It’s important to be honest with yourself and admit to yourself if perhaps the reason for your bad mood lies in your personal insecurity or unrealistic expectations that you set for a person or situation. Equally, you might discover that the cause for your bad mood has nothing to do with internal turmoil and is instead brought on by something entirely out of your control. In cases when your mood is affected by your environment – remember, it’s about how you react to it. Are you approaching the issue from a practical point of view or are you taking the path of negative projection?
  • Accept it as part of you
    Try and avoid assigning a positive or negative value to your experiences. Remind yourself that everyone goes through a spectre of moods in their lifetime. Yes, bad moods may be unpleasant, but at the end of the day, they are a natural part of life. It is important to accept that unless you exist in a vacuum, moodiness inevitably occurs sooner or later.

References:

  1. Everything You Should Know About Hormonal Imbalance by Corinne O’Keefe Osborn, 2017 – https://www.healthline.com/health/hormonal-imbalance
  2. Chronic Pain on the Brain: 4 Psychological Effects of Living With Pain, 2017 – https://www.h-wave.com/blog/chronic-pain-on-the-brain-psychological-effects-of-living-with-pain/
  3. Understanding the effect of pain and how the human body responds by Amelia Swift, 2018 – 
  4. https://www.nursingtimes.net/clinical-archive/pain-management/understanding-the-effect-of-pain-and-how-the-human-body-responds-26-02-2018/
  5. The mood-altering power of the Moon by Linda Geddes, 2019 – https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190731-is-the-moon-impacting-your-mood-and-wellbeing
  6. Aromatherapy Mood Blends – https://www.aromatherapy.com/mood_blends.html