Disclaimer: This article does not refer to extreme mood swings related to bipolar. If you suffer from bipolar, please seek medical professional help.

I felt a bit angsty and a little anxious the other morning when I woke up.

Years ago, I would have wondered why this was; I would have hung out with the mood to try and track down why I felt like this. I would have curdled my coffee with my thoughts, and the shower would have rained tacks.

But now, if I start to wonder why I have this feeling, I say, “Who cares?” and think about my day. Strangely enough, when I do that, the feeling changes.

I’m not going to pretend that I sing show tunes all day; I go up and down at times.

Because, like you, I’m human, and we humans get mood swings.

But the wonderful thing is that moods don’t matter.

Moods Don’t Matter
What is a mood? It’s a feeling, isn’t it? An emotion.

You call almost every feeling or emotion a mood. You have good moods, bad moods, angry moods, loving moods, high moods, low moods and more, but what causes these moods?

It has to be thought.
So why do you take moods so seriously, both yours and other people’s? If your partner, parent, or child appears to be in a mood, how many times do you attempt to do something about it?

Maybe you try to be considerate and kind and keep asking what is wrong and whether you can do anything. Of course, innocently, all you’re doing is keeping the person in the mood by talking about their mood.

You might have been conditioned to believe that your mood and feelings tell you something about your life. Or you might have learned to analyse your mood to determine what steps you can take to change it.

But you don’t need to do anything about your mood or tap into techniques to change it; you only need to think about something else. You might be tempted to dismiss doing this as your anxiety is too intense or you have too much to worry about, but make it a habit to consciously divert your thoughts and see how your mood changes.

You can’t be in a high mood if you’re having stinking thinking about whatever worries you. If you don’t believe me, try it.

If you stop making moods matter, they won’t.

Maybe it’s not a mood; it’s something else.

Moods are Made By …
Hormones
Do you worry about the effect your hormones have on your mood? I’m not going to get into the whole hormonal minefield except to remind you that if you’ve got raging hormones at whatever time of your life, this might be the reason you feel bad, but it’s not an excuse to behave badly towards others or yourself.

If you’re in the middle of a hormone maelstrom, instead of reacting, stop and say something nice to yourself. Think about something you did well, whether making the perfect cup of tea or finishing a report.

Consciously choosing to be kind to yourself will help you stop focusing on the feeling you had a moment ago and calm you down.

Although you might be in a flood of feel-good hormones and be happy or in love I’ll bet you don’t worry about those moods.

Food
You know, food and mood are inextricably linked.

If you have a diet full of processed, high-fat foods, you’re more likely to feel depressed and anxious, and I’m always amazed at how many people don’t link what they eat and how they feel.

Rubbish in, rubbish out.

It’s a vicious circle. The food you eat influences your brain chemicals, and your mood influences your food choice.
If you eat fast food, watch how fast your mood changes. You may not have noticed; maybe you think it’s normal to want to drink something sugary to wash down the processed food or go for a sweet snack afterwards.

And then, because you feel low or jittery, you decide to have something to make you feel better, and if this is you, I’ll bet you don’t reach for an apple.

Sleep
Who doesn’t feel moody after a few nights of bad sleep?

You might feel irritated, snappy, and foggy-headed. But is this a mood or sleep deprivation? You might be in a bad mood because you’re sleep-deprived, but it’s a good idea to call out why. If you rest for a while and feel better, was that a mood?

Researchers found that subjects limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.

If you continue to feel irritated and angry, this can affect your sleep. Stress also affects sleep by making the body aroused, awake, and alert, so you’ll either find it difficult to get to sleep or wake up during the night, worsening the problem.

Anxiety
Everyone knows what it’s like to feel anxious.

That’s because when you feel anxious, the feeling is all-encompassing. It takes over your mind and body. All you can think about is whatever you feel anxious about. Then, your body responds with physical symptoms, you feel anxious about the symptoms you’re experiencing, and the dance continues.

It can look as if there are different types of anxiety. There is social anxiety, health anxiety, relationship anxiety, work anxiety and money anxiety, amongst many others.

Or are there?

You see, all anxiety, regardless of the issue, is made of the same thing: it’s all made of thought. And this means that all anxiety is the same.

If you feel anxious, you must be thinking about whatever appears to be the issue — a struggling relationship or what might be wrong with your health—and then you feel the type of thoughts you’re having.

You can’t ‘have’ anxiety. You might think that you’re an anxious person, but anxiety doesn’t tell you anything about who you are or your life; it only tells you about your state of mind at the moment. You can’t be anxious without having anxious thoughts. You can feel it but can’t catch it, and the feeling can only last as long as the thought.
Change the thought and feel your anxious mood disappear like money in your pocket.

Circadian rhythms
Human biological clocks are set in 24-hour cycles, which are known as a circadian rhythm or biorhythm. These rhythms are designed around sleep and wake, and if you mess with them, your mood suffers.

Your mood suffers because you’re less alert and feel upset with yourself, your memory suffers, and you start to worry about your mental acuity; your immune system is compromised, and you’re more likely to pick up bugs.

It’s easy to override your circadian rhythms with artificial light and screens. You might think you’ll watch a few funny videos on your phone before going to sleep to improve your mood without realising it will ultimately do the opposite.

High Moods and Low Moods

This graph is a typical day. You go up, and you go down.

hand drawn graph

Amazing artwork by the author

Look at young children for an example of how everyone does this. Children don’t make it mean anything when they’re in a dip. They don’t beat themselves up because they’re not feeling great; they don’t wonder why they’re down there, and they don’t worry about how long they might stay there.

And the same when they’re high. They run around playing, shouting and having the time of their life. They don’t ask themselves how long this feeling will last.

The way to transfer this skill to adulthood is to stop making moods matter.

Final Thoughts
You don’t need a mood ring to tell you how you feel.

You know how you’re feeling. And when you’re in the feeling, remember you experience your mood, whether that’s a high or a low mood, via thought?

Don’t think about the mood or try to do anything to get out of the mood. Curiously, I’ve never known anyone to try to get out of a happy mood, but people try all sorts of things: sex, drugs, alcohol, or whatever floats their boat to get out of a bad mood.

Isn’t it great that moods don’t matter?

“The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low.”
Richard Carson