Understanding your mood swings

You're up and down like a yo-yo but you don't really know why. The Mix looks at how to manage your mood, get a better understanding of your mood swings and be a more balanced person. And breathe...

A young person sitting in a green space in a happy mood.

Are you feeling more up and down than usual?

When you look at all the stress in your day-to-day life, it’s not surprising you may be experiencing highs and lows. It’s normal to have fluctuations in mood from time to time; whether it’s juggling work and home life, feeling unmotivated, dealing with hormones, or coping with stressful and upsetting situations. If you’re having more than the odd low or angry day, then you may want to look at what’s going on, and how you might able to better manage and understand your mood swings – particularly if they’re happening more often.

What causes mood swings?

Some reasons for mood swings

Mood swings can often be caused by shifts in hormonal balance during puberty, Premenstrual Syndrome, pregnancy or post-natal depression. Feeling irritable basically means you feel angry or over react to something that’s happened.

If you’re not sleeping you might feel tired and this might impact your mood negatively.

It could even be that you’re about to go through a big change in your life. You might be moving house, moving to university or getting a new job.

Being honest about how you’re feeling can help you understand your mood swings

The first thing you should do if you’re concerned about your mood is be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling. It’s sometimes easier to try and paper over the cracks if you feel there are problems and ignore them instead of trying to address the situation.

It may be helpful to talk to other people around you and encourage friends and family to be frank about their about perceptions of you. It will be cathartic to get things off your chest and often it’s the people around you that notice changes in your moods, behaviour and attitude over a course of time.

Try not to be too hard on yourself

One thing you can do is write a mood diary. Here’s how to do it:

  • Monitor your moods, rating them out of ten, with one being the lowest and ten the most positive and happy. This will give you an idea of whether your mood is staying constant or fluctuating over a period of time.
  • Put a plan in action. If your mood is a level seven, think about what to do to try and maintain it, or to make it higher. If it gets down to a three, give yourself another task to help get you back on track.
  • Be aware of triggers. Write down things you may have noticed in your daily life that can affect your moods. This might be partying hard or not getting enough sleep.

Breathing techniques

Exercise can help you get more oxygen into your lungs. If you focus on exercise, it can really help your mental wellbeing.

If you have mood swings, it’s possible you’ll be feeling anxious, and this could sometimes lead to a panic attack.

You can do breathing exercises to slow your heart rate down and control mood swings. Breathe in for five seconds, hold your breath for 10 seconds and then breathe out for five seconds. Do that 10 times in a row.

When is your mood more than just a mood?

If it gets to a point where your moods are having a big impact on your ability to get on with your daily life, work, or relationships, then there’s a possibility that it may be something more serious than the normal range of ups and downs of everyday life. If this is the case, make sure you talk to your speak to your doctor. Severe mood swings are sometimes associated with Bipolar Disorder. In this case, the ups and downs can be so severe that usually some sort of treatment will be needed, whether it’s through medication or a therapeutic treatment such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

Developing self-awareness

One of the best things you can do to help your moods is to take care of yourself physically, as well as mentally. Try to stick to a healthy diet and try and eat foods rich in Magnesium and Vitamin C. Bananas and oranges are rich in nutrients. These kind of fruits can lift moods and prevent depression. Make sure you get enough sleep, avoid drugs and alcohol, and try to reduce stress in your life.

If you’re worried about your mood swings and you want to talk to someone about it, get in touch with our team for free and confidential advice.

Next Steps

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By Julia Pearlman

Updated on 11-Jun-2020