IDENTIFYING, UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGING MOODS

Time cools. Time clarifies. No mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.

Thomas Mann

 

We all experience mood swings. Some mood swings are slight (temporary excitements and disappointments); other mood swings are large and more significant (manic-depressive behavior). We never seem to be in one place emotionally for long. Just when it seems like life is going smoothly, bam, our mood level drops and life again seems rocky. Or just when life seems hopeless, our mood lifts and all seems right again.

When you are in a good mood, life seems good and everything is manageable. When you are in a bad mood, your coping skills are overwhelmed and nothing seems to work smoothly. Our moods are always fluctuating. The trap that needs to be avoided is believing that life has suddenly become significantly worse or better in the past day or the last hour. It’s our perspective and outlook that has changed.

As an individual humorously said in counseling, “You know, when the Minnesota Vikings win, my wife is good company and a lot of fun to be around, but when they lose, she is so stupid and doesn’t understand anything. Although she never watches football and visits her mom when the game is on, it really is amazing how the outcome of a football game transforms my wife.” Obviously the wife hasn’t changed; the husband’s perspective and mood has changed.

Moods come and go. I have learned to be grateful for the good moods and to patiently wait out the bad moods, knowing that they will change. It’s not possible to identify and manage all the variables that trigger mood swings. PMS can cause mood swings in women. Dietary imbalances, inclement weather, absence of light (Seasonal Affective Disorder), negative people and experiences and excessive worry, to name a few, affect many people.

We can learn methods to help maximize good moods and minimize bad moods. The first step is gaining awareness of the risk factors that can trigger your mood swings. Here is my list of things I do to prevent bad moods:

When I wake up, I immediately get up and start moving around (usually in the direction of the kitchen for that first cup of coffee). My system needs a little caffeine in the morning, but not too much or I get wired and pay the price later on in the day when I come down from a caffeine high. After a little experimenting, I’ve discovered that 3 cups of a blend of 1/2 caffeine and 1/2 decaffeinated coffee works just fine.

I pay close attention as to how my day begins. The way the first hour of the day goes, so goes the day. If I get off to a good start, I usually have a good day. If I get off to a bad start, I have a tendency to procrastinate and goof off. Wasting time is never inspirational.

It’s impossible for me be in a bad mood on a sunny day. Cloudy overcast days are slippery emotional slopes for me and I’m susceptible to mild grade depression. My strategy for gloomy days is to be active, avoid negative people and to guard against too much thinking and over analyzing.

Minnesotans have long winters to endure. Long cold winters coupled with stressful holiday seasons are real risk factors. Kathy and I always take a vacation during December or January. This renews us and gives us the energy and outlook to hang in there until spring.

Mood swings are inevitable; they come and they go. It’s like the weather in Minnesota, if you don’t like it, wait a little while and it will change.

We have discussed possible remedies or preventive maintenance to help you sidestep bad moods. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you work on avoiding people and situations that trigger or alter moods, you will still occasionally find yourself in low moods. It always helps to have awareness of mood shifts. When you are in a bad mood, you need to fine-tune your daily living strategies.

Life looks so serious when we are in a bad or low mood. The same behavior by our spouse and friends can be endearing when we are in a good mood and can be annoying and bothersome when we are in a bad mood. This is one of the real destructive forces in relationships. There is a much higher probability that we will say hurtful things that are never forgotten and can really damage relations when we are in a bad mood.

The lesson to be learned is to develop awareness of our moods and when in a low or bad mood don’t tackle relationship issues. This is confusing because that is the exact time that we want to confront other people and solve problems. When we are in a bad mood, we want to get to the bottom of something, we want to express feelings, and be assertive and defend our boundaries.

Develop the discipline to learn to discuss relationship issues when you are in a good mood rather than a bad mood. The probabilities of success are far greater. It also helps to understand your partner’s mood. Wait until you are both in a good mood to work on relationship issues; this provides an even greater probability of success.

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About Riley Harrison

Likes to write (books- Are You Stuck? (is life passing you by), Getting Unstuck & Dare To Date), loves to travel and is married to a wonderful woman (Kathleen Baxter)
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