Stop Mood Swings With These Tips

Stop Mood Swings With These Tips

A clear morning sky, a newborn baby's eyes . . . "blues" like these won't ever get you down. Blue moods, however, are virtually inevitable. Most of us are bound to get them from time to time. The good news is surprising new evidence indicates that the little things you do every day have the power to keep you out of "down in the dumps" and let you take control of your emotional and physical health.

Some very straightforward moves may help you leave your not-feeling-it, don't-want-to-talk-about-it, I-think-I-might-just-go-back-to-sleep (or grab a big plate of fries!) moodiness. We're talking about strategies such as overriding negative thoughts, skipping the "blue plate special" at your local drive-through, and shutting the bedroom shades tonight. Such strategies are important because avoiding even mild or temporary depression does more than improve your outlook: It helps you sidestep added risks for a fatal heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and premature cell aging.

Keep in mind that chronic, relentless depression -- whether severe or mild -- calls for extra steps to ease the lousy feelings. Don't try to manage your moods on your own if for two weeks or longer you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • No zest for life
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sleep too much
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain weight

Clinical depression is a physical ailment, not a matter of attitude. As with any illness, the smart move is to get the best care possible. Talk to a doctor about getting therapy and medical treatment.

That said, everyone can benefit from info on how to use their own powers of self-persuasion and self-motivation to banish (or at least ease) the blues. Here are some tips on how to reduce moods swings:

Focus on gratitude and meaning instead of negative thinking. Thoughts that circle around helplessness, hopelessness, purposelessness, worthlessness, powerlessness, loneliness, emptiness and/or meaninglessness keep you in the blue zone. Keeping a daily gratitude journal, taking the time to say thank you or write a thank-you note, and connecting with the most meaningful forces in your life can remind you of all the good stuff when the going gets tough.

Eat more plant-based meals and less junk food. Body-wide inflammation isn't just bad for your arteries. More and more evidence shows that inflammation can fuel brain changes that mildly or majorly affect mood. In fact, inflammation may explain the link between depression's low moods and major-league health issues, such as heart disease. A steady diet of burgers, fries, and sugary baked goods laced with salt boosts depression risk by 51% -- perhaps because these foods fuel inflammation. Instead, pile your plate with fruits, veggies, and the good fats found in nuts (walnuts and macadamia nuts especially), olive oil, and fish (e.g., salmon or trout).

Upgrade to first-class sleep. Sleep apnea (i.e., gasping for breath while you sleep) boosts your risk for poor quality sleep that can trigger high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression -- as does bringing the glare of a TV, computer monitor, or tablet into the bedroom. (The street light streaming through the window doesn't help either.) Close the shades, turn off all screens (sex frequency decreases 50% with a TV or computer in the bedroom), and wear an eye mask. If you're tired despite a full night's sleep, or if your partner says you snore loudly and gasp while sleeping, ask your doctor about an evaluation for sleep disorders.

Bust a few yoga moves to reduce stress. A little stress is no problem, but regular, negative stress is definitely a big problemo. By raising levels of high-anxiety hormones and slashing levels of feel-good brain chemicals, chronic tension paves the blues boulevard to chronic depression. Just one yoga session raises levels of the depression-fighting brain chemical GABA (that's gamma-aminobutyric acid for you science geeks) by a whopping 27%. Not into finding your inner om? Take a walk. Just 30 minutes of exercise -- with or without your dog, spouse, or kids -- eliminates stress, boosts your mood, and can even slim your hips. There's a bonus anyone can love!

Medically reviewed in May 2019.

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