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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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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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