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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

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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 August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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