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Many people come to therapy baffled by the instability of their moods. They ask questions like:
- “Why do I experience such intense highs and lows in my mood?”
- “Why do my emotions feel so overwhelming?”
- “Why can’t I seem to control my moods?”
It’s normal to experience mood swings, especially in response to stress, life changes, and other challenging events. Sometimes, but not always, they are a sign of an underlying psychological disorder such as bipolar disorder.
Regardless of the root cause, there are many non-pharmaceutical ways to manage mood swings and regain emotional stability. Here are three:
#1. Yoga and meditation
Practicing yoga and/or meditation on a regular basis has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and mood swings. One study found that a regular meditation practice led participants to respond more mindfully in daily life, which promoted their well-being.
In fact, all forms of exercise can improve your mood by reducing stress hormone levels, boosting endorphins, and increasing the amount of oxygenated blood flowing to your brain.
An article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that yoga has added advantages. Yoga can improve mood by increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical linked to a better mood and less anxiety. In this study, the researchers compared a weekly yoga intervention to a matched walking intervention (both occurring for 60 minutes, 3 times per week for a period of 12 weeks). They found that yoga participants showed greater improvement in mood and greater decreases in anxiety than the walking group.
Yoga can also improve sleep quality, enhance cognitive function, and increase feelings of happiness and contentment. Whether you choose to practice yoga, meditation, or both, incorporating these activities into your daily routine can greatly benefit your mental and emotional well-being.
#2. Healthy diet
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is important for overall health and emotional well-being. Incorporating a diet rich with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help improve mood and prevent mood swings. One study identified carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens like spinach, and grapefruit as some of the foods most closely associated with good mental health.
Proper nutrition provides the body with the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to function at its best.
Research has shown that healthy eating patterns, as promoted by a Mediterranean diet, lead to better mental health outcomes than a Western diet.
For instance, one study found that even though our moods might influence what we eat, a high intake of processed carbohydrates can lead to frequent and sharp spikes and falls in blood sugar levels, increasing the risk mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
#3. Avoiding mood-altering substances
The effects of substance abuse on our mental health are well-documented. Substance abuse can lead to short-term mood changes, such as increased agitation and irritability, as well as long-term mental and physical health problems.
For instance, one study showed that alcohol use was associated with depression, anxiety, and, not surprisingly, impaired decision-making faculties.
Another study found that caffeine causes anxiety symptoms in normal individuals and even more so in patients with pre-existing anxiety disorders. It can also disrupt sleep patterns, leading to mood swings and irritability.
Avoiding these mood-altering substances or reducing their use can help you maintain emotional stability and prevent mood swings.
It’s also important to understand that substance abuse can be a complex issue. If you have trouble quitting or cutting back on your own, seeking support from a mental health professional is advisable.
Managing mood swings can be challenging. And, some of us are more prone to mood swings than others which means it’s not something to ever feel ashamed about.
By incorporating healthy habits such as practicing yoga and meditation, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding mood-altering substances, you can gain more control over your moods and live a happier, more stable life.