Nothing is worse than suddenly finding your good mood has been ruined by some minor trigger or an anxious thought. We all experience a certain degree of emotional shifts, but if you find that your moods fluctuate more than you'd like, you'll want to pick up some tricks on how to avoid mood swings. You can't always prevent annoying events from happening, but you can take the proper steps to make sure your mood isn't affected by every little factor.
"For some, when we hear 'mood swings' we might think of bipolar disorder or other mood disorders," says psychotherapist Angela Ficken over email. "However, we don’t have to have a mood disorder to experience mood swings. We experience different emotions on levels of intensity based on how we feel about ourselves and what is happening in our environment. Some of us are naturally higher than others on these continuums, which can cause us to be more emotionally sensitive, and therefore, more likely to experience mood swings."
Emotions can happen fast and feel difficult to stop, which is why we experience mood swings, but with a little bit of effort, you can help keep these fluctuations at bay. Here are nine genius tips to help you avoid mood swings.
1. Track Your Mood
Start by tracking your mood. Keep a daily log for a week, and either check in with yourself a few times a day to see how you are feeling and then jot it down, or do it at the end of the day and ask “What emotions did I feel today?” "By the end of the week, you will be able to see what emotions you experienced, what were the dominant emotions, and if you felt controlled by any of the emotions you felt or how well you handled them" says Ficken. Knowing what triggers your mood swings can help you catch them before they take over.
So many of us forego sleep thinking it's no big deal, but how well-rested you are can determine how you deal with emotions. "The more tired we are, the more difficulty we have managing challenging emotions and keeping things in perspective," says Ficken. "When we feel tired, our thoughts can become distorted and negative, which directly impacts our mood." Make an effort to get good sleep each night. "Try not to do work right up until bedtime," she says. "Take at least 15 minutes to wind down, read a book, listen to a podcast, or practice meditation or breathing exercises."
3. Avoid Stimulants
As much as you might need your morning cup of coffee or that glass of wine after work, you should try to avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, as they can not only exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression, but cause mood swings as well . "To help with mood swings, you want to focus on things that will balance, nourish, and calm a person versus exacerbate the issue," says psychotherapist Kristina Orlova, CMT, LMFT over email.
4. Eat Frequently
If you've ever been hangry, you know how important it is to stay fed when it comes to your emotions. "Too many of us skip over meals because we're busy with work and other demands," says psychologist Erika Martinez, Psy.D. over email. It also leads to poor food choices in a time crunch." When you go too long without eating, your blood sugar levels drop, and symptoms of low blood sugar can overlap with the symptoms of panic, according to PsychCentral. This can cause your emotions to become unhinged, and you might experience unnecessary changes in mood.
5. Drink Water
Staying hydrated is just as important as staying fed. In fact, even just mild dehydration can cause moodiness and fatigue, according to a study from the Journal of Nutrition. Use water-logging app to track your intake of water to make sure you're getting enough throughout the day.
6. Practice Mindfulness
"A healthy emotional response is commensurate with the situation faced," says Martinez. "However, when you react at a level nine intensity to a situation that calls for a two, then that's a clear indication that you've been emotionally triggered by someone or something in your environment. Meditation and other mindfulness techniques can increase your awareness in such moments so that you can catch yourself in the act of overreacting and consciously chose a different response or behavior."
7. Indulge In Regular Self-Care
"Making time for yourself is as important as anything else in your life," says Ficken. "However, usually, when we get busy, the first thing to go is self-care. This means we pay attention to ourselves much less, and it is more likely we will have increased stress and be more primed for challenging emotions that can cause us to be more susceptible to mood swings."
Incorporate exercise as part of your daily routine, as working out can do just as much for your mind as it does for your body. "This is always on any list because it helps promote chemicals in your brain that help you relax and feel good and releases endorphins that will keep making you feel good throughout the day," says Orlova.
9. Get A Check-Up
If you find that your mood swings are unmanageable, go see a a medical professional. "A doctor can run blood work to determine if hormonal fluctuations or vitamin and mineral deficiencies are to blame for mood swings," says Martinez. "Common culprits include lack of exposure to sunlight, poor and unhealthy foods, changes in blood sugar levels, and lack of exercise."