Balanced living is the goal for many of us but we may find it difficult to control stress and “mood swings” naturally. It can be easier to manage the highs and lows of everyday living. If you notice yourself experiencing a drastic change of emotions every now and then it is possible that you are experiencing what many people refer to as mood swings. One moment you may be feeling fine working on your daily tasks, the next minute you may be feeling irritable and even become hostile – all these sudden changes in your mood indicates that you are indeed having mood swings.
Irritability is a common symptom of unresolved chronic stress. So if you are showing signs of being moody, you may need to look deeper and see if it isn’t stress that is causing the problem.
Yes, it is perfectly normal to experience irritability, anger, sadness and other emotions in our lives. However, if mood swings become difficult to control, this becomes another problem to look at. Uncontrolled mood swings can severely impact relationships, careers and other aspects of a person’s life.
Is Irritability The Cause?
Both men and women may suffer from mood swings that are caused by stress of everyday living. Juggling between family and work life and others expectations will make almost everyone vulnerable to highs and lows in mood.
Women experience mood swings more often than men. This comes as no surprise since women are subject to fluctuations of hormones that can occur during pregnancy, menstruation periods or post-partum depression.
Intensity of mood changes will invariably worsen when upsetting situations occur.
Irritability is one of the most common indicators of susceptibility to mood swings. When a person is irritable they will have an increased tendency to overreact or become angry in response to an occurrence. When the response is disproportionate to the trigger, problems will occur with others.
This often leads to feelings of remorse, self-pity and more anger. If this yo-yo behavior is repeated often it can create habitual responses which compound the hormonal and environmental triggers. If the underlying causes of the irritability are properly addressed mood swings will then start to dissipate.
Extreme cases of mood swings can also be linked to bipolar disorder. If mood swings are extreme in either frequency or intensity or are damaging to personal and professional relationships professional help should be sought.
Natural Ways of Coping with Stress and Mood Swings
Recognizing that stress and your mood swings are a problem does not mean you have to rely on prescription or over-the-counter drugs to be able to manage the problem.
There are several natural ways of coping:
Counseling – In addition to therapy, mental health professionals can teach you visualization, progressive relaxation or other stress management techniques. Also, these are therapies you might be able to learn on your own using DVDs, online tutorials, or digital apps.
Hypnosis – Hypnotherapists can educate clients on how to use self-hypnosis for relaxation and stress relief. These techniques are routinely used by medical and psychological professionals for stress and pain management. In a few sessions you can learn all you need to know to do this on your own.
Yoga – Take a series of classes to learn the basic yoga movements. This ancient technique involves the mind and body so completely that you relax, stretch and develop flexibility all at the same time. Yoga and meditation can help people achieve calmness by using positive imagery, slow and tempered muscle movements and guided breathing techniques.
Practicing yoga on a regular basis provides people with better coping skills for mood swings as students will be taught to become more aware of their own emotional and physical responses to mood swings.
You can get DVDs, books, and web streaming services to help you with the poses at home. Or better yet, rather than do it alone, schedule a yoga class once or twice a week and pre-pay. That may motivate you to actually make time to practice, and to get out of the house or the office, and into a socially-supportive environment designed for mindful movement and deep relaxation.
Sleep – Getting enough sleep is also crucial towards conquering mood swings. Lacking enough sleep every night will make you feel run down with your mind less sharp to deal with any situations that may arise in your daily routine. This will affect how you react to emergencies and crises, increasing the likelihood of an irrational response.
Having enough sleep gives your mind and body the much needed rest that it deserves for it to function better the next day. Pay attention to how much rest your body needs, but the average is 7-1/2 to 9 hours a night. If you can’t clock that much time at a stretch, you may be able to carve out time to take a short nap during the day and make up for a sleep deficit that way. A 15-minute cat nap can make a world of difference.
Eating right – Diet is one of the best ways to keep mood swings in check. Processed foods and all forms of junk foods should be avoided. Stay clear of all foods and beverages that contain sugar and limit or better yet eliminate your intake of alcohol.
These unhealthy foods will trigger mood swings and also reduce the capability to cope with stress. Poor eating habits are also commonly linked to anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. Diet is becoming more widely implicated as a primary underlying cause and aggravator of many mental and emotional issues.
Aromatherapy – You might notice whenever you chew a piece of cinnamon gum or eat something citrus-based that it perks up your mood. Use of scented oils extracted from various plants, known as aromatherapy, will give you more than the 1-minute boost that chewing gum offers. Orange, cinnamon, bergamot, and jasmine essential oils are excellent choices for lifting a low mood. They work by minimizing anxious feelings that can control your thoughts and possibly allow depression can take root.
On the other end of the gamut, Camomile and lavender essential oils are stress-relieving choices for someone who is feeling high-strung, anxious, and overwhelmed. They are calming and soothing scents. Use a diffuser to release the scent in the entire room of a chaotic home or workplace, or simply put a few drops on a cotton ball or (herb-filled) sachet and breathe it in. If tension and racing thoughts lead to problems with insomnia, these scents encourage you to relax physically and mentally, allowing the necessary conditions for winding down and settling in to a good night’s sleep.
Art or Photography – You don’t have to know anything about either of these to enjoy them. Forget perfectionism and just put some paint on a canvas or shoot some pictures. Go outdoors to a tranquil park, garden or solarium to practice your craft. The time spent in beautiful surroundings, or looking at your subject and artwork keeps you focused on the present moment rather than regretting the past or dreading the future.
Being creative, particularly if this is completely different than your usual work, can be highly relaxing to the central nervous system, helping to balance the extreme highs and lows from mood swings.
Act like a kid – Choose a day twice a month when you act like a kid. Go to the park and swing. Draw on the driveway with colored chalk. Watch funny movies in your pajamas well into the afternoon. Do something that is carefree and just plain fun. It may sound silly to schedule in play, but relaxing is something some people have to learn because it doesn’t come easy to them.
Once You’ve Found a Way to Control Your Stress and Mood Swings …
Whether you’ve selected one or more methods for keeping your stress levels under control, and your moods balanced, be sure to keep up with those techniques. It’s easy to go back to your old ways once you feel improvement. We all get busy and taking time for yourself may seem unnecessary or even indulgent. But stress-relief has to be an on-going self-care activity, like brushing your teeth, or you’ll be back in the same unbalanced situation again.