"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Crummy mood modifiers

Woke up in a crummy mood?  Ruminating about past mistakes?  Anxious about tomorrow?  Angry at the world?  Joy seems elusive?  Hold it right there partner.

Moods are just moods.  They are not permanent fixtures.  If you tend to get anxious, angry, depressed, sullen remember that your mood tends to be worse when you wake up.  It can and will get better across the day if you don't get mired down in it.

The mood needs to be identified.  As soon as you feel that the day is not starting out right, tell yourself that whatever you are feeling is not permanent, but a fluctuation.  Before you even get out of bed, start working on getting a better mood by making your body feel right.  Stretch yourself, massage your neck, wiggle your spine.  Now sit up on the side of your bed.  Rotate your neck around slowly, stretch your arms up and out and this way and that.  Get your body moving in different directions and extending before you ever hit the floor.

Now start working on what's going on in your head as you get the water warmed up for your shower. Even though you are not in a great mood, tell yourself, "This is a temporary feeling."  Maybe you need to put a sticky note on your mirror or shower door to remind yourself.  Moods fluctuate and even though it is usually worse in the morning, it will get better if you do some "mood tweaking."

Jump in the shower and make a mental note of three mood enhancing activities to accomplish today...one being to get outside and let the sunshine wash over your body with a good dose of Vitamin D.  While the water runs over you, imagine it is washing the negative mood down the drain.

Continue working on your head while you shower and dry off by looking at what you are ruminating about this morning that is driving you crazy.  If you stay stuck in the rut of negative thinking, you will refresh your bad mood when your shower is done.  Warm showers are incompatible with feeling lousy.  So when you step out, don't go back in your head to revisit the fight you had with your parents or your spouse.  It's not bad to reflect back on a conflict, but not for too long.  And only if you include reflecting back on the part you played in the conflict, not just focusing on what someone else did.  Spend the time figuring out how to act next time and then move off the thought.  Enough already!  Move on to something positive.

Try behaviors that compete with feeling down or anxious.  It's difficult to feel depressed or anxious when you have just finished
a brisk walk in the sunshine.  Listening to your favorite music puts a spring in your step...even better music which makes you want to dance or move around.  Ever try feeling down when you give your cat or dog and gentle grooming with a brush?  They enjoy it and pass that feeling right on to you!

Sure you could try a junk food feast for breakfast.  That will make you feel good for about 5 minutes...real good.  But the long term consequence for that....weight gain for one and self flagellation for another.  Don't go there with food fixes.

Now all this sounds like trivializing the struggle for folks with anxious or depressing thinking. But, my stand is that these mood patterns are amenable to a lot of tweaking for the better.  Lots of little tweaks in a healthy direction...positive thinking, physical activity, stretching, nutritious eating all make a difference.  It's not one thing that helps with changing your mood, but a thousand little things that help....a package of behavior that can keep the habit of mood disturbances at bay.