By Dr. David B. Hawkins, Crosswalk.com
Editor's Note: Dr. David Hawkins, best-selling author of When Pleasing Others is Hurting You and Dealing with the CrazyMakers in Your Life, is pleased to announce that his column will be changing its format in upcoming weeks. Beginning immediately, readers are welcome to send him their relationship questions at ask-dr-da[email protected] to be answered in his new advice column.
What can be done about ongoing bad moods? What can we do if we get set off by the slightest provocation, hurting everyone around us and even ourselves?
You know the feeling. You get a stack of bills in the mail leaving you with more month than money. Your car decides to act up—again. Your friends aren’t there for you after you’ve been there for them.
Without intending it, a mood sweeps over you and, like an alien, takes over your brain. You’re in a foul mood and can’t seem to shake it. It seems that you are “just in a bad mood, out of control.” But, let’s look closer at just what is going on with a mood.
First of all, not all moods are bad. We can enjoy a good mood or be in a bad one. Moods tend to be non-specific, as compared to a specific feeling. They can be influenced by something positive or negative happening to us, such as the pleasure of being with a good friend or the displeasure of being rejected by someone.
Negative moods are often connected to depression, anxiety, aggression and poor self-esteem, especially when a mood is protracted. Negative moods are often harmful to us in that we process information inaccurately, make poor decisions based upon these temporary moods that lead to social and interpersonal problems.
Fortunately, we can become more self-aware and make choices that will positively impact negative moods. For example, lack of sleep clearly impacts our mood. If low on sleep we are far more inclined to become irritable, angry and prone to stress. Additionally, nutrition has also been clearly associated with moods. Certain food groups are associated with good and bad moods.
Whatever the cause of your moods, know that you can impact them. Here are some additional ideas on recovering from moodiness and managing your emotions:
First, know that you can improve your mood. Simply understanding and accepting that you can improve your mood gives you some sense of control over your life and your moods. Believe that there are actions you can take will give you a sense of control over your moods. Moods are not something that just happen to you, but also something you can manage.
Second, monitor your moods. Pay close attention to your moods. Track them. Journal about them and see what they have to teach you. What we measure and monitor tends to fall more and more within our control. As you monitor them you will start to see patterns and be able to make better decisions about them.
Third, learn from your mood. As you monitor your moods, see what they have to teach you. Moods tend to be a reflection of the way we are thinking as well as how we are taking care of ourselves. Our moods can give us important cues as to what might be missing in our lives and can direct us to God to help us heal.
Scripture has this to say about our moods: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; there I remember you” (Psalm 42: 5-6).
Fourth, limit your moodiness. As you monitor your moods and learn from them, limit their damage. Quickly determine what thoughts lead to your bad moods and ways they need to be corrected. Don’t get caught suffering endlessly from a bad mood, but rather take quick action to limit the impact of your mood.
Finally, take decisive action to improve your mood. There are many things you can do to improve your mood, the most important being to take action. For example, research has shown we can change our facial expression to improve our mood. Simply smiling tends to improve our mood. Deep, slow breathing through our nostrils tends to cool our brain and when the brain cools we feel better. Additionally, movement tends to help. Shifting activity to involve a brisk walk on a nature trail, a jog, or some mental exercise will help your mood.
In summary, we all will have good and bad moods, but fortunately, we don’t have to be overcome by bad moods. We may not know immediately what is fueling our mood, but we can be sure something is. We may not immediately know where the mood comes from, but we can learn much from them.
Do you struggle with moods? We at The Marriage Recovery Center are prepared to walk with you through this growth process. Please feel free to contact me at MarriageRecoveryCenter.com or email us at [email protected].
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