Bob Denny: Dealing with moods


Published: Friday, November 22, 2013 at 3:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 at 3:34 p.m.

Do you ever get up on the wrong side of the bed? Or sometimes wonder why you’re in a happy mood, and sometimes a “funky” mood? Sometimes it’s a total mystery just why we find ourselves in a “mood!” Sometimes we can blame it on conditions, like being tired, frustrated, lonely, or when we’re shown special appreciation. Sometimes it’s anybody’s guess!

Life is complicated! Moods can really have multiple causes. They may be caused by circumstances we find ourselves in, and the way we interpret the situation. An example? An authority figure is scolding or shaming us for something we did. Are they right? We may feel ashamed, guilty, or sad. Do we think they’re wrong? We are likely to feel frustrated, angry or defensive.

What else causes our moods? It can be our physical condition of health or illness, fatigued or energized. Or it could be our social environment: Do we see ourselves involved and popular, or alone and getting no appreciation?

Other moods are brought on by our own biology. Our brains have a built-in biological “clock,” the suprachiasmatic nucleus, in the hypothalamus. It’s responsible for supplying our bodies with melatonin, nature’s own sleep medication; not only for our daily sleep and wake cycle, but for the changing seasons of the year! We all, men and women alike, have monthly biological cycles that affect our moods.

Also, each one of us has a pineal gland, which controls other glands, which release hormones as part of our autonomic nervous system. That’s the system responsible for exciting and alerting us to danger, and then calming us down when the danger is no longer a threat.

What does all this mean to you? It may help a little just to know that our moods are complex, and have multiple causes. You may be able to recognize their influence when you acknowledge that you’re feeling sleepy, edgy, anxious, excited, happy or depressed. Some of the causes are in our power to control, others we really can’t do much about. If you can identify reasons for your mood, then you are in a better position to know what you can “fix” and what you can’t.

What you can do? As best you can, try to identify what’s causing your “mood.” If it’s something you can do something about, you may want to respond to the situation causing the mood.

For example, if you’re feeling bored, you might think of things you can do to get busy or involved, find something to do that you’re interested in, get involved in a social activity, depending on what caused the boredom. If it’s something you can’t do much about, like impatience from a slow recovery from an illness, you may need to find ways to just relax and accept your situation.

It’s like the serenity prayer says: Give me the strength to change what I can change, the patience to accept what I can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference. Sometimes when we’re feeling down or depressed, it may be okay to just “wallow in it” until it passes. Just go with the flow, and know it will pass. Storms always pass, and the sun comes shining through.

Bob Denny has taught psychology at Florida Gateway College for 10 years and is a licensed mental health counselor in Florida. Comments are welcome at Bob.Denny8@gmail.com.

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