Track your mood
Due to the ever-changing nature of mood swings it can be difficult to figure out when and why you are experiencing one. This is where tracking your mood can come in particularly handy; identifying how you feel every day and why can be the first step towards preventing mood swings from taking over. Create a mood diary in which you note how you feel each day, over time you may begin to notice a pattern such as feeling particularly emotional before your period or feeling low during the winter months which is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
A mood diary can also allow you to be as creative as you like where you can chart your emotions using images, charts or words meaning it can also serve as a creative release where you can let go of any negative emotions that you have been holding onto throughout the day.
Hormonal changes such as PMS and menopause are known to cause mood swings, although it’s not exactly clear why or how this is the case. Both menopause and PMS can influence our serotonin levels as a result of fluctuating oestrogen and progesterone levels. Therefore, in the run up to your period, or as you approach menopause, you can see changes to your mood as a result of your hormones.
Manage your anxiety
Anxiety can be caused by a number of factors such as a looming interview, a big test, a presentation, work deadlines, and too many responsibilities that can make it feel difficult to cope. Periods of anxiety can also be triggered for no apparent reason. Usually however, symptoms of anxiety crop up as a result of feeling unable to cope or process stress.
Anxiety most often manifests itself as a feeling of nervousness and this flighty feeling can result in the emotional turbulence that can be described as a mood swing. Therefore, managing your anxiety can also be beneficial when it comes to preventing mood swings too.
There are a number of steps you can take to help manage your anxiety, check out my anxiety blogs for some more details. For now try out some of these easy tips:
• Take a deep breath
If you feel that anxiety is creeping up on you, take a moment to focus on your breath. Our breath has the amazing ability to reverse our stress response, particularly when we exhale for longer than we inhale. This sends a signal to your brain to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and relaxation responses which soothe the nervous system and counteract our sympathetic stress response. Find out more about breathing techniques to manage stress here.
• Try herbal remedies
Herbal remedies, such as our licensed herbal remedy AvenaCalm, contain a blend of herbs to tackle the symptoms of mild stress and anxiety. Unlike conventional medications these natural alternatives have little or no side effects and can often be used long term if need be.
• Talk it out
Often, when we feel overwhelmed by nervous or anxiety, talking to friends and family, or healthcare professionals can help to lift some of your burdens. Talking it through can offer new perspectives and even solutions to the problems that you may be facing.
• Know your triggers
If you are prone to regular bouts of anxiety the odds are that you probably have a good idea about what your triggers could be. Identifying your triggers can help you to manage and prevent anxiety from taking hold.
• Check out my blogs
My blogs contain a wide range of information on all things anxiety-related explore them below for some more in-depth tips and advice on managing your anxiety!
6 natural ways to calm nerves
9 tips for overcoming performance anxiety in public speaking
How to calm your fear of flying
Early morning anxiety
What causes Sunday night anxiety and how you can halt the worry
You are what you eat
The saying ‘you are what you eat’ rings true when it comes to your mood – if you eat rubbishy junk food you can sure bet that your mood will feel rubbish too! Our food is our fuel and we need to fuel ourselves right if we want to look after our emotional and physical health. The right foods are those packed with nutrients that nourish and protect our brain as well as help to build those all-important hormones and neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating our mood. These foods are almost always natural, not pumped with an ingredient list that is three pages long and filled with nasty sounding chemicals. I always say if you can’t pronounce it don’t consume it!
Dietary changes are among the most difficult lifestyle changes we can make which is why I’ve listed some manageable guidelines you can try for yourself.
• Minimise caffeine
Note the word minimise – not avoid altogether. In today’s society it is unlikely that any of us go without that little bit of handy caffeine to help to get us through the day despite its negative repercussions being well known. Caffeine is a stimulant that results in an energy crash. It’s see-saw effect on your mood can be interpreted as a mood swing so it is best avoided whenever possible. If you can cut it out altogether that’s fantastic but if not, definitely avoid it before bed and try to switch out a few cups of coffee for our friendly caffeine-free alternative Bambu.
• Up your magnesium
As I discuss in my blog which focuses on the causes of mood swings, magnesium deficiency is a real contender due to its important role in mood regulation. Magnesium also helps to prevent fatigue which can be another cause of mood swings so it’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough. Looking to up your intake? Leafy greens such as spinach is a great place to start, other sources include pumpkin seeds, bananas and avocados.
• Drink water
Another cause of mood swings dehydration is thought to contribute to changes to our mood and mental function as a result of decreased blood flow to the brain. Dehydration combined with excessive caffeine consumption spells disaster for our emotions. Many of us drink too much caffeine and not enough water which results in dehydration as a result of caffeine’s diuretic effects. Try to balance out this negative effect by aiming to drink at least 1 glass of water for every caffeinated beverage you consume.
• Eat regularly
If we don’t eat regular meals our blood sugar levels can become low which often leaves us feeling irritable, lethargic and unable to concentrate. Eating at regular intervals help to stabilise our blood sugar levels therefore helping to regulate our mood.
• Avoid sugar
As with a caffeine buzz which is always followed by a crash, sugar follows a similar high and low pattern. Unfortunately, sugar can sneak its way into all sorts of unlikely foods such as soups, sauces and readymade meals (which are also often highly processed and low in nutritional value). When shopping be sure to always check the label and wherever possible try to make your food from scratch as this way you’ll know exactly how much sugar goes into your food.
Sleep it off
As I discussed in my blog ‘7 causes of mood swings’ being overtired can definitely contribute to mood swings. When we’ve had a particularly sleepless night naps can be a good option to consider as they can help to decrease levels of our stress hormone cortisol as well as restore some much needed rest. Practicing good sleep hygiene and considering a herbal sleeping aid such as Dormeasan are good steps to take to help to improve your sleep. For some more information on how sleep can help to support your mental wellbeing check out my blog ‘Is a good night’s sleep the key to happiness?’
Keeping active helps to balance our levels of serotonin and dopamine which, in turn, supports our mood. Exercise helps to reduce our stress response making it beneficial for managing stress and anxiety it can also improve symptoms of low mood and depression by helping to lift our mood. It has this effect through the production of endorphins which are our body’s natural pain relievers and pleasure stimulators. There are a number of ways exercise can benefit our mood:
• Regulates our sleeping patterns
• Produces feel good hormones
• Increases our energy
• Improves confidence and self-esteem
• Improves memory and cognitive function
• It makes us relax