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6 Surprising Things That Affect Your Mood

6 Surprising Things That Affect Your Mood

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if everybody was in a good mood all the time? But all sorts of things like insomnia, too much coffee, a nagging doubt or an unresolved argument seems to play havoc with your mood. But there are surprising things that can affect your mood too. Read on to discover if they can help you understand your mood meter.

1. Sleep in total darkness – you will love it

Did you know your wake sleep cycle can be disrupted if you are not sleeping in total darkness? Studies show light pollution coming from neighboring houses, street lighting, and poorly made curtains plus the absence of shutters, can affect sleep quality negatively. It may also be a precursor for depression. Here are some tips to make sure you can sleep in total darkness:

  • Cover up digital clocks and any appliances with a LED
  • Forget about night lights
  • Use blackout curtains over your window
  • Consider using a face-mask if you can’t block light pollution
  • Don’t fall asleep with the light or TV on, if possible

Not just your mood but your overall health can improve. Poor sleep quality has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, aging and mental disorders. This was revealed in the book by T.S. Wiley, called “Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival.”

2. Your posture reveals everything about you

When I was a kid, I remember the words of the song by Val Doonican which went like this: “Walk tall, walk straight and / Look the world right in the eye / She said ‘Son, be a proud man’ / And hold your head up high.” Sound advice and I still remember those words today and I am nearly 70 years of age! Watch the video if you want to see what I grew up on.

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Was Val Doonican’s songwriter on to something? Well, he was, because when you walk confidently and hold your spine correctly, you are immediately conveying to yourself and others around you that you are confident, optimistic and self-assured. I have never met anybody who slouched or sat hunched at his or her desk who was nothing less than miserable, pessimistic and a loser.

Are there any studies to show this is really the case?  Professor Erik Peper at San Francisco State University asked over 100 students to note their energy levels when they slouched down a corridor. They were then asked to skip down the corridor. Of course, they noted in the questionnaires afterwards, they had decreased energy levels when slouching. Now, the next time you attend a job interview, tell the world with your posture you are the right person for the job. You can thank me later!

3. The weather affects your mood… and the stock market 

We all know we feel much happier, healthier and more confident on a sunny day. There are countless studies to show we are essentially a meteoropathic species.

But did you know the sunshine can affect the stock market too? Traders are more bullish and more likely to take calculated risks on a sunny day. This is the result of a study which took 15 years to complete and studied the effects of the weather on stock exchanges in 26 countries!

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4. Don’t wear black, please!

I live in Italy and the most popular color in fashion at the moment is black! Absolutely funereal in a sunny country. But it is associated with an elegant lifestyle, such as ‘black tie’ and ‘black limousine.’ The only relief for me is when I see Indian women in the street with their lovely, brightly-colored saris.

Color affects our mood and there are sound anthropological reasons for this. Our ancestors regarded red as a color of danger in that it represented danger from fire but also heat and energy. Even now, our hearts beat faster when we see red and naturally it has become the color for emergency services, anger and stop signs.

Our language is full of colors as well. Reflect on these examples:

  • I am really browned off
  • This is a golden opportunity
  • He is green with envy
  • She was as white as a sheet
  • Like a red rag to a bull
  • He has a yellow streak
  • He was the black sheep of the family

The psychology of color is a fascinating area and used extensively in marketing. There are many anecdotal references and studies subjective in nature. More rigorous scientific studies are needed here. But, if changing your outfit to a brighter color lifts your mood, go for it.

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5. Use social media sparingly

Have you updated your Facebook today? If you have, you are probably feeling better. Facebook can help reduce loneliness, boost friendship and increase self-esteem. How many times have we laughed at a funny video posted on our Facebook page!

The bad news is when Facebook and other social media start to take over they may result in depression, break up marriages and may be a contributory cause of eating disorders.

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” Oscar Wilde

6. Money makes the world go round

Is money the root of all evil? Money can’t buy happiness. Lottery winners are not happier than the rest of us and often encounter endless problems with managing their money and relationships.

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Research now shows when we start to donate to charity and help the needy with cash, we are much happier than when we might spend that money on ourselves. This was described in a recent TED talk by Michael Norton, a Harvard business professor. The other side of the coin is when people get into debt and suffer from depression, they sometimes commit suicide.

The secret is to realize money only temporarily leads to pleasure. The most important thing is to learn how to manage our finances wisely.

“I cannot think of a more personally rewarding and appropriate use of wealth than to give while one is living—to personally devote oneself to meaningful efforts to improve the human condition.” Chuck Feeney

What things really affect your mood?  Let us hear about them in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: If you want a rainbow/Jessica Keating Photography 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 August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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