A Guide to Understanding and Managing Your Moods

Written by: Thrishala Gunathunga

We all go through different moods every day, don’t we? 

Like riding a rollercoaster, in the morning, we might wake up feeling happy and energised, ready to take on the world. But as the day progresses, we might find ourselves getting frustrated or even angry about something that didn’t go as planned. 

Therefore, understanding and managing our moods can greatly enhance our physical & mental health, as well as emotional resilience and quality of life.

What are Moods?

Moods are personal emotional states that can be different for each person. They can last for hours, days, or sometimes even weeks. Some of the most common moods are happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety, cheerfulness, fear, disgust, and surprise.

What Are the Factors Influencing Moods?

1) Biological Factors

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal changes (estrogen, testosterone, endorphins, oxytocin)
  • Neurotransmitter imbalances (mainly dopamine and serotonin)
  • Certain medical conditions

2) Environmental Factors

  • Low social interactions
  • Stressful workplace conditions
  • Poor living conditions
  • Weather changes        

3) Cognitive Factors

  • Negative self-talk
  • Rumination
  • Self-compassion
  • Positive thinking

4) Lifestyle Factors

  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Use of drugs/alcohol

What are the Strategies for Managing Moods?

It is true that we don’t have full control over our moods. They can be influenced by all sorts of things like our genetics, hormones, the environment we’re in, how we think about things, and even the way we live our lives or the food we eat.

But don’t worry! Here are 5 strategies we can use to manage those moods and make our lives more fulfilling.

1.      Cultivate mindfulness.

Sometimes we don’t even realise we’re in a certain mood until someone points it out. But by being mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without judgement, we can understand what’s causing those moods.

Imagine you receive an email from your supervisor criticising your performance at work. Instead of immediately getting angry, try being mindful of your thoughts and how your body feels. Maybe you notice some trembling or shaking and are about to cry. Then you realise that it’s not just the anger you are feeling but also doubt about your abilities. So, by recognizing these moods, their specific triggers, and the sensations you have during your moods, you can respond to your supervisor more thoughtfully.

2.      Develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Healthy coping mechanisms are a great way to manage difficult moods such as anger, fear, frustration, and disgust.

Imagine you had a hectic day at work, with tight deadlines. As soon as you get home, you feel overwhelmed and anxious about completing all your tasks for the next day. Then you find yourself craving for a cigarette to cope with the stress. Instead of giving in to that thought, you step outside for a refreshing walk.

3.      Challenge your negative thoughts.

If you find yourself always focusing on the negative aspects of situations or engaging in self-criticism, it’s time to challenge those thoughts. This is known as cognitive restructuring, and it can help shift your mood towards a more positive one, like happiness.

Imagine having a job interview coming up in two days. But you tell yourself, “I won’t get the job because I’m not qualified enough.” Challenge those negative thoughts by reminding yourself of your qualifications, past successes, and strengths in the work environment. This will allow you to face the interview more confidently.

4.      Practise healthy habits.

Sometimes practising healthy habits related to sleep, diet, exercise, and drug use is all you need to manage your moods and have a positive outlook on life.

Imagine that you feel sad, unmotivated, and do not feel like getting out of bed. This might make you feel angry as well. Instead of giving into those moods, you can decide to do exercises regularly (no matter how hard it feels), at least for 15 minutes a day. You can also consider joining a gym or a yoga class to make it more social and enjoyable.

5.      Seek support when needed.

Sometimes, managing our moods by ourselves can be tough, and if you find that your mood swings are affecting your relationships and daily life, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. That is completely okay! 

They’re there to help you through therapy, where you can identify the causes of your mood swings and learn effective coping strategies to find stability and balance in your life.

Always remember that understanding and managing your moods involves skills like mindfulness, patience, and self-compassion. 

It’s a long process that doesn’t happen overnight, but by keeping these strategies in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate your moods and work towards leading a better emotionally-balanced life.