Moods can seem so fickle, like weather in our heads. You wake up and the sun is shining and you are feeling in a great mood with energy to begin the day. Then, you look at your calendar and realize that you had forgotten an early appointment. Everything shifts as you go into rush mode. Not unlikely, you will have forgotten your phone and realize it just as you are backing out of the driveway! Back into the house to get it, but not before seeing the dog’s dish is out of water. Sometimes a mood shift can be caused by an environmental situation.
Sometimes our moods just seem to happen. Maybe we have been feeling a little “under the weather” or sad for no particular reason that we can think of. And then the phone rings and a friend is inviting us to lunch or just calls to say hello. New energy seems to fill our sails and our mood has changed. Amazingly our spirits may lift and our mood improves from a social interaction.
Psychology calls moods “affective states,” less specific than emotions or feelings, and longer lasting. A mood disorder is characterized by highs and lows that interfere with our everyday lives. Hormones, environment, physical illness, grief, poor sleep, stress, and boredom are factors to consider when assessing moods. A depressive mood lasting longer than a couple of weeks may suggest clinical depression. Moods that include intense states of both depression and a driven energy known as “mania” may indicate a bipolar mood disorder.
It is a good idea to be aware of our moods and identify triggers that may be bringing them about. It is a decision then as to how to manage negative stimulants in our lives. Also, it is a good idea to have a “toolbox” of things that can help us to manage moods. A walk outside in nature, listening to music, tidying, gardening, venting in a journal, or talking with a supportive family member or friend may be helpful. Moods usually pass like clouds in the sky. If they do not, it is the work of the mental health professional to help sort them out and advise for therapy or possible medical intervention.