So much can affect your mood. Right now I’m sat in the sun, listening to the birds after getting myself an ice cream and I feel fabulously creative and happy. Only a couple of hours ago I felt mildly depressed and very unmotivated and my change in mood got me thinking about moods in general.
We are pre-programmed to have a negativity bias, that is to say, that is used to be safer for us to think that way. Way back when we needed to be wary of potential predators like lions in the African savannah, we needed to think this way. Nowadays the world is a much safer place (though the media would have you believe otherwise) but we still catastrophise. This is the way our brains have helped us to survive and evolve over hundreds of thousands of years. Sadly this brain function is still prominent and this is effectively messing with our evolution. We will continue evolving of course (we are very good at that) but we haven’t evolved to be happy, we evolved to survive. So instead, we need to learn to change our mood.
Being happy is easy when you’re already in that space, but getting there is a real struggle sometimes. If we were to sit down and list the ‘happy’ triggers for mood change they may be things like:
- A song
- Talking to a friend
- Certain smells or tastes
The truth is, we know the things that make us happy but sometimes we like to indulge the sadness.
It’s very confusing because, in mindfulness, we are taught to feel our emotions and honour them. This is good and we should. But a certain amount of self-control is needed before we begin to wallow in our sadness.
I’m just as guilty of wallowing as the next person, but we do have to learn to recognise when we need to flip the switch on the sadness. I’ve come to believe that as soon as your motivation, your appetite or your kindness to others is affected, then this is the time when you need to flip the switch.
We can also prepare in advance for these ‘down’ times by having a self-care routine that we can stick to. This isn’t being selfish, this is important and I can’t stress how important it is. Again, everyone is different and has different ideas about self-care. For one person it may be taking time out to read a book in peace, it could be going for a walk, but it could also be taking up mindfulness (which I fully recommend), or even going to a weekly yoga class. Whatever you choose to do, make it a daily habit and be committed to your self-care. It makes sad days less sad.
Only you know what makes you happy and having a plan ready for when the sadness, loneliness or any other unhelpful emotion takes over is the way to do it.