Bad moods are wonderfully tricky. They are almost always built into a perfect cycle. They can feel impossible to get out of. It is time to begin to recognize these cycles! I highly suggest you take time to write down your causes as they may be different from mine. However, the three that I have listed seem to be the most reliable sources of bad moods...
1. Bad Food:
This is the cause of my bad moods almost 1000% of the time. Sugar, wheat, any of that bad stuff takes control over me for days. Sometimes I eat it because I am in a slightly bad mood and feel like saying “F*ck it, I’ll just stuff my face,” or “I’m worthless because I can’t control how I eat, I don’t have any self discipline”, “I’m disgusting”. Maybe what happens is that I was in a bad mood for absolutely NO reason (this happens sometimes), and am searching for a reason. So I do something that I know makes me disappointed in myself and then I get a reason!
The worst part about this is that it leads to an endless cycle that I have sometimes spiraled in for weeks. It is scientifically proven that sugar and carbs are horrible for hormones, mood regulation and energy. It makes your body depressed even if your heart is happy. So it sucks.
Also, what sucks worse is that when you’re in a bad mood you don’t really have will power. And most of the cures for bad moods require a little bit of willpower. But luckily willpower is a muscle that gets stronger every time you use it. So start with a cure that is easy and fun, and eventually you will be able to say no to sugar and yes to foods that make you feel good…trust me! You WILL get to the point where you love veggies and healthy food, but it will take a little while, don’t beat yourself up, but you really have to KNOW that you can’t go on forever eating poorly. I don’t think you plan or want to eat bad your whole life, which is why you need to begin to prepare (not grudgingly but excitedly) to gradually say goodbye to your current eating habit and say hello to one that will make you PROUD.
Cure: Go find veggies you like (my favorites are broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, spinach, green beans and brussel sprouts), cover them in bacon, oil, cheese, salt or whatever will make you excited to eat them and dive in. Do this kind of snacking instead of reaching for sugary foods. At the very least-BEFORE BINGE EATING ANYTHING -drink water and brush your teeth. If you still want it after that, go ahead.
2. You’re a girl:
What time of the month is it for you? I have an app on my phone that keeps track of it for me. I pay attention every month to the different cycles that I go through. Usually it goes like this: two weeks of great mood and productivity, life is great. I’m a sexy, beautiful independent woman who gets everything done. I forget what a bad mood even is.
THEN everything changes. I have a week where I hate everyone suddenly. Everyone! (But mainly myself) I start to look in the mirror and describe myself as disgusting. All of a sudden my face turns into a goblin. I have hair growing out of my nose! My forehead is covered in red oozy zits. My mustache, my double chin, my flappy arms, saggy elbows, gross-chunky-cellulite-thighs! You get the point. While this doesn’t happen every month, when I’m in it it can sometimes feel this dramatic.
Then comes the week of my period, which is actually a nice relief. I feel less hatred, and ALWAYS think “Oh duhh! That’s why I felt so ugly! I’m not actually ugly! It was just the period talking.” I usually still have days of bad moods on my period and I used to cry at least once every time, but generally I feel excited because the worst is over, and once it stops I will start to feel normal again.
Everybody’s periods are very different! You may have a different experience then me. But it is important to know your cycle and begin to see the patterns. Get an app and keep track of your moods (not obsessively but generally), so that you can see if there is a trend. If there is a week for you like there is for me then it’s really good to know when it is so that you can plan ahead, and understand that the way you feel about yourself will go away soon.
Cure: Wait it out, don’t doom yourself by acting horrible just because it’s your time to, but also realize that there are some things you can’t control, and sometimes you’re just going to feel bad.
3. You feel alone.
This is a very big cause for bad moods for EVERYONE! Isolation and loneliness are (ironically) something everybody feels. It makes us feel weak, insecure and worthless. It can cause you to want to isolate yourself more.
When I feel lonely because I don’t have a boyfriend or my family is so far away, I usually lock myself in my room and mope. I sit on my bed and mind numb on the internet for a while. I use the computer (or my phone) to try and find connection with people. I watch TV shows or movies that I know will make me feel drama or sadness (Hint: Grey’s Anatomy), because then it is almost like I am connected to these people through their problems and tragedies.
Even worse, I’ll go on Facebook and look through the profile pictures of my friends/enemies friends and friends of their friend’s friends. It’s a weird spiral! Sometimes I just look over and over at all of the pictures of myself, trying to feel some sort of recognition to my face on the screen.
Isolating myself with my feelings of isolation puts me into mind numb mode. I don’t think and hours and days pass. This is usually extremely detrimental to getting stuff done, and when I come out of it I usually get into another bad mood because of all the damage to myself I have caused with the procrastination that goes along with my dark moods.
I have been listening to podcasts about procrastination. One of them talked about a scientific study that did research on the relationship between stress, procrastination and self compassion (listen here). It found that self compassion is what is in between the two! If you procrastinate but then have self compassion, then you don’t feel the stress. And vice versa; if you feel stressed but are compassionate towards yourself in the stress then you will not procrastinate.
So what is self compassion and how do you get it?
Well it’s connected to feeling alone which is why I bring it up here. Self compassion is defined as three things: Kindness/forgiveness, mindfulness, and the realization that you are not the only one who feels stress/procrastinates.
SO, if you feel sad and lonely, first be mindful enough that you can notice you are feeling sad and lonely. Being mindful usually means meditation (but I know that can be daunting and seem like a chore), so instead just treat it as being as HERE as possible.
If you feel lonely and sad feel here in your lonely and sad.
What do your toes feel like? What about your fingers? Go through all of your senses: notice what you see, what do you hear? Is there a smell around? Are you cold or hot? How does your heart feel in your body? Can you feel it? Gradually work your way up to your mind. What is being said there? Is there a song that you were singing that you didn’t even know you were? Are you repeating a phrase over and over again? Are you reliving a memory, telling a story, or even having an imaginary conversation/argument with someone? Just notice. That’s all you have to do for now!
Next, forgive yourself.
It doesn’t have to be for anything! You may be in one of those times where you don’t have a reason for your bad mood. So just repeat “I forgive you” or “I forgive myself” over and over again. Your mind will likely bring up all the reasons why you shouldn’t, it may show you an image of how you might look to other people right now-lying in your bed crying etc. It may show you everything you’ve put off, all the deadlines you’ve missed, everything you should be doing right now that you’re not doing. It may even show you the big stuff, everything wrong that has happened to you in the way back past-or everything you did wrong all your life. It will try to make you feel worthless and disgusting. Like a victim. This will only keep you lonely! You will feel like there is something wrong with you. With every new thing that comes up, just keep repeating “I forgive myself”.
Now comes the best part, and the biggest tool for me…realize that EVERYBODY feels like this at times too! Literally every friend that I have had (even just the bare acquaintances) has told me that they think something is wrong with them/their brain. Even the smart older wise ones! I have had friends from all of the different social “genres”; the punks, populars, sporties, nerds, musicians, “normals”, hipsters, hippies, emo’s, religiouses etc all have felt lonely, strange, ugly, fat (or over indulgent/gluttonous), depressed, victimized, broken etc. Every single person (even motivational speakers) has had days where they did nothing but watch movies or stare at the ceiling as they eat a box of Oreos. Yet nobody wants anyone else to see that about them, so we all hide it from ourselves!
We need to show our friends and family that they can feel shitty around us if they want because we get it and we feel shitty too. Just doing that will make you feel less alone, even if you are still the only one in your room.
Cure: Picture people in your life having the same mental conversation as you are having. Realize that you are connected to people just because you feel lonely.
Practice self compassion by getting present, forgiving and then getting rid of the thought that you are the only one who has ever felt like this.
Now go out into your house, and look around. Can you hear the noise of cars? Are people there? Can you hear the neighbors? Feel how many hearts beat around you! Realize that they don’t have to be talking to you or even know who you are to be connected to you. There are tons of people living and thinking and struggling and laughing all around you. And you were born into their group!
You can’t get kicked out of being human-it can never be taken away from you regardless of how hard people may try to stare and bully it out of you. No matter what you will never lose your spot as a human in this world.
You are not a different species!
Go for a walk and look at the face of somebody that passes by you-realize the look of loneliness that might be in their eyes too, or even better they might look back and connect with you too!
This was taken from the first version of my original blog site, Shelp. It was posted on Friday, February 7th, 2014 at 9:01 pm.