Each and every day is packed with challenges and obstacles to overcome. We’re battered on all sides by our responsibilities, wants, and needs.
Navigating the challenges of life is difficult even under pristine conditions, but when a person’s mind is working against them, it gets even harder.
The state of our moods, emotions, and how they shift can make those challenges even more difficult. Understanding some common causes of mood swings can better help us enjoy our life and find some peace.
But, before we dive into that, we need to make a clarification…
People tend to treat the words “mood” and “emotion” as interchangeable. These are actually two different things.
A mood tends to be longer and deeper than an emotion, and emotions may or may not be coming from that mood. One could almost think of a mood as though it is an environment, while emotions are factors within that environment.
Consider the following example:
The environment of the Arctic is cold. Because it is cold, you’d expect to see weather like snow. Right? Well, if a person’s mood (cold environment) is positive, you would expect to see emotions (weather like snow) such as happiness, joy, and excitement.
A person’s environment can shift (mood swings) for a number of different reasons, both internal and external. And with that mood shift comes different emotions.
It’s not likely to snow in the Sahara, and if it does it’s probably going to be brief. Meanwhile, a person with a negative mood is not likely to experience happiness or joy for an extended period of time either.
That is a super simplistic explanation that does not account for things like mental illnesses or mood disorders. Add a mental illness into the mix and it gets much more complicated.
It’s just meant to demonstrate that there is a difference between a mood and an emotion, so we can get a better understanding of some common causes of mood swings.
1. Disrupted Sleep
Sleep is an essential part of wellness and well-being. It is during the deepest phases of sleep that our brain produces and replenishes mood and emotion balancing chemicals.
Disrupted or restless sleep means the brain doesn’t have the appropriate time to replenish those chemicals.
A person may find themselves doing well throughout the day, but for some reason, their mood inexplicably crashes later in the afternoon or evening. That’s because their mind is running out of those chemicals.
Quality sleep is not only great for managing mood swings, but it’s also the foundation of mental health and mood disorder management.
Whatever you can do to improve your quality of sleep will likely provide at least some benefit.
Avoid caffeine and sugar late in the day, set a consistent bedtime if possible, work around your Circadian Rhythm, and put away your electronics at least an hour before bed.
These are just some of the aspects of good sleep hygiene that allow you to wake up feeling refreshed, not just physically, but emotionally too.
2. The Stresses Of Life
Stress weighs heavily on a person. Someone who spends a lot of their time worrying about finances, life, work, family, and all of the responsibilities that go along with it may find themselves worn out and exhausted, which can cause one’s mood to swing.
Stress can also affect how we sleep, what we eat and drink, and how we feel about what’s going on around us.
The people we interact with in our daily lives tend to fall into one of three categories – they either add to us, subtract from us, or do neither.
Most people will shift between these categories as life ebbs and flows. Sometimes they need your support, sometimes you need their support, and sometimes everything is fine and no one needs support.
The people that you spend the most time with are going to impact your life, whether you like it or not. That’s just the way it is.
As an example: if you have a partner who is angry or volatile all the time, you won’t be able to relax. You’ll constantly feel like you’re on the edge and walking on eggshells, which causes stress, which can cause mood swings.
And do not make the mistake of thinking that the absence of bad means good – it does not. All it takes is a simple yes or no question – is this person positively contributing to my life and well-being?
Health problems and the treatments thereof may also cause mood swings, particularly not correctly adhering to the direction of one’s treatment.
It’s no real secret that a poor memory or frustration may cause a person to forget or disregard taking medication as directed, particularly if you are living with a mental illness.
It’s important to adhere to one’s treatment or medication schedule per their doctor’s orders. Not only does it provide the best opportunity for meaningful recovery, but it also helps to keep things smooth and level in your mind.
5. Lack Of Exercise
Exercise provides so many great benefits! Including, but not limited to, assisting with emotional and mood balance by providing an endorphin boost.
A sedentary lifestyle not only negatively impacts one’s physical health, it also negatively impacts one’s mental health, contributing to negative moods and depression.
Regular exercise can help lift one’s moods and keep them in a fairly steady place. Even something as simple as a half hour walk, three times a week provides a significant boost to one’s mental and physical health.
But, if you do decide to work exercise into your schedule, be sure to consult with your doctor first.
6. Unhealthy Eating And Drinking
Food and drink is fuel to keep the human machine moving. The quality and types of food and drink that we put in our body contributes to both our physical and mental health.
Things like highly processed and fast foods are of lower quality and can make a person feel worse, making them more susceptible to mood swings. Same goes for drinks like alcohol, soda and other caffeinated drinks, and high sugar fruit juices or sports drinks.
That is not to suggest that all of these things should be absolutely cut out of one’s life, but one should consider what kind of fuel they are providing their body, and choose to eat healthier foods more often.
7. Seasonal Changes And Weather
It is not unusual for a person’s mood to be affected by changing weather or seasons.
Sunshine helps one’s body produce valuable Vitamin D and serotonin, both of which can contribute to one feeling better. Overcast skies and seasonal changes reduce the sunshine and therefore can have a negative impact on one’s mood or stability.
It doesn’t work that way for everyone though. While it is more common for people to become moodier and more depressed heading into the autumn and winter seasons when skies are more overcast, there are people who experience a similar thing heading into spring.
If you feel your moods and emotions are negatively impacting your ability to conduct your life, do consult with your doctor about what you’re experiencing.
It could be anything from needing some lifestyle changes to an undiagnosed medical condition that is interfering with your ability to enjoy your life, particularly if your mood swings are causing disruption in your everyday life.