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10 Surprising Facts Affecting Your Mood That You Never Thought About

10 Surprising Facts Affecting Your Mood That You Never Thought About

“To understand me, you have to meet me and be around me. And then only if I’m in a good mood- don’t meet me in a bad mood.” – Avril Lavigne

You would be surprised at what can affect your mood. Apart from the big and obvious ones like the weather, bad news or a break up, there are some sneaky ones that can affect your mood. Watch out for these 10 and learn how to turn them to your advantage.

1. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark

Poor sleep quality can put you in a bad mood for the whole day and everyone around you suffers. The key is, of course, light pollution. When a friend of mine bought black out curtains for his room, I was inclined to see it as a mere fad. But I was proved wrong because studies show that light pollution can really disturb your sleep. It interferes with the production of melatonin which is the essential for restful slumber. Actually, I should know because I often fall asleep with my bedside lamp on!

2.  Is your clutter upsetting you?

See what happens when clutter gets in the way. You tend to multitask and your focus goes into a stop and go mode. This affects you in many negative ways:

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  • Frustration builds up as you cannot find things.
  • Production is badly affected.
  • Time is wasted.
  • Mental fatigue sets in.

No prizes for guessing that you will be in a bad mood after all that searching and rebooting. One of the best solutions is to devote a few minutes a day at a set time to start getting rid of all that clutter or putting it in some order. Some studies show that if the objects are of a sentimental value, it is better not to touch them as this reinforces the emotional hold they have on you. Ask a friend or partner to help you here.

3. Facebook again!

Yes, it is true. All those great images and funny videos that your so called friends are posting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter is just stoking the fires of envy inside you. As if that was not bad enough, your self esteem will sink and you will feel down. Limit your time on Facebook and watch a funny video, read a book or just listen to music. None of these activities requires any one-upmanship.

4. Stay away from negative people

“Nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around.” – Bill Watterson

You know those family members or friends who always complain that life has dealt them a really rough deal. Everything is wrong, bad and corrupt. It is contagious and toxic. Listening to that sort of stuff will affect your mood and you should try to steer towards confident, cheerful and positive people who will uplift and encourage you. Protect your emotional immune system.

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5. Limit your media time

I must confess that I watch very little news bulletins these days on TV and try and reduce online news as well. The sheer misery, injustice and cruelty of human trafficking upsets me the most. I know that we will have to abolish slavery all over again. I get angry with the world and feel frustrated that I can do precious little. Yes, it does affect my mood so I limit it as much as I can. Today can only be lived once.

6. Too much/little sunlight could be bad for you

Normally we associate the lack of sunlight with depression and insomnia. This is the one that we call winter SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which apparently affects 5 percent of the population. But did you know that too much sunlight can affect a small number of people (about 1.5 million Americans) which is the summer version of SAD?  Staying cool or in ideal temperatures is the best solution, if you are affected by the summer version. If you feel down in winter, light therapy sometimes can help.

7. Is your diet right?

Your diet could be affecting your mood. Look at the following ways you can set things right. If you are following the perfect diet and are always in a good mood, you can skip this bit.

Keri Grans, author of The Small Change Diet offers some great advice:-

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  • Make sure that you do not get hungry by not eating for long periods. This causes a drop in blood sugar and you get grumpy and feel lethargic
  • If you stock up on lots of sugary carbs at breakfast, a sugar crash is on the cards. Then you really get cranky!
  • Make sure that you are getting enough Omega3s by eating lots of fish, avocado and nuts. Studies show that low intake of these fatty acids is connected with depression.
  • Ensure that you have enough iron-rich foods so that you do not get burn-out which could lead to fatigue and irritability. Eggs, beans, artichokes and red meat can help to redress the balance.

 8. Happiness at work

There is a definite correlation, it seems, between happiness and productivity. Employers should read the study done at the University of Warwick which shows that there is a definite connection between happiness and better work all round. Happier employees were more efficient and stayed longer with the company than their unhappy colleagues. Providing ideal conditions with more flexibility would be a good place to start. That would put people in a better mood and increase profits!

9. Color Affects Your Mood

Pardon the pun, but this is a grey area! Lots of traditions, customs, rites , rituals and a few scientific studies are all attempting to illustrate how color affects our health and well being.  The most fascinating area is how color might affect your mood. The work by Richard Hammer of the University of Missouri School of Medicine is interesting and also practical. He uses calming colors on his screensaver while he changes this to another one full of reds, oranges and other stimulating colors when he has to meet a deadline or get something done!  Choose two of your favorite paintings which will have blues for easing tension while the other one will be full of bright colors. When you are in need of a change of mood, choose the one which best fits your immediate needs and stare at it for a few minutes.

10. Sweet dreams

Making sense of dreams is a rather hazardous business. But there is no doubt at all that waking up after a nightmare may leave us traumatized and nervous. A bad beginning to the day and our mood is likely to reflect that. After a sweet, ridiculous and funny dream, we are usually in a good mood and marvel at the complexity and lack of logic of the human brain.  A friend of mine is a psychotherapist (Jungian school) and he uses dreams as a basis for all his work. An essential tool is that all patients have to make notes of their dreams, once they wake up. If you are into dreams, you might like to keep a dream diary.

As we have seen, there are lots of weird and wonderful things which can affect your mood. Would you like to tell us about them?

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Featured photo credit: Macolin sur Bienne/ Jean-Daniel Echenard via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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