When I worked with people who struggled with losing weight, the worst thing possible that could happen to them would be for them to get to lunch time and ask themselves ‘what do I feel like eating’?
The reason is that all behaviour is state dependent.
This means that your decisions will depend on your mood at a given time, so what you choose to do when in a jovial mood can be different to what you choose to do within the same context whilst in a pissed off angry mood.
Lessons from masturbating students
Consider a rather extreme but interesting experiment where the researcher must have been very persuasive to get this one authorised. A group of male students were given a laptop and instructed to answer a series of questions that delved deep into their sexual desires and choices. The type of questions included “Can you imagine finding a 12 year old girl attractive?” and “Is a woman sexy when she is sweating?” The volunteers were instructed to answer the questions both in a neutral state and whilst in a sexual aroused state (in short, whilst masturbating). The results showed a dramatic increase in the choices and desired behaviours of when in a normal and when in a sexually aroused state.
Step away from the Coldplay Album!
You have probably experienced times where you have wanted to do something but just didn’t feel like doing it when the moment came or when you wanted to watch a movie but in the mood for neither thinking nor novelty you decided on a movie you have seen at least 3 times. Face it, there will be times where your mood is up and times where your mood will be so low its close to hitting the Earth’s core. There are ways of eliciting a happier, resourceful mood and can be useful for those days where you’re reaching for the Coldplay albums:
The news will make you sad!
One thing the news media is not is stupid. They know that we tend to be motivated more by moving away from pain than moving towards pleasure. So when they have a news headline like “Millions to suffer from the latest health scare”, they know you are more likely to take note than if they had a headline of “Zoo happy with new bunny birth”. The problem occurs when reading/watching the news in a low mood is that it can intensify the emotions that come with low moods and cause you to make assumptions up in your mind of what this means to you; ‘what kind of world do we live in’, ‘it be crazy to pursue this what with what is going on’, ‘Great, looks like the future isn’t going to be much better’. For this reason, begin to create a habit of reading/watching the news from an objective standpoint where you are informed rather than affected by what is being reported.
An English man & an Irish man walk into a bar
Ever present in the low mood army is the stress hormone Cortisol. This, along with other symptoms of low mood (low motivation to do anything but watch Friends reruns, a unsavory outlook on the world around you, a desire to finish a Ben & Jerry’s within the hour) can play havoc with plans to get anything done.
Cue Stand up comedy DVD’s or anything of a similar nature.
When we laugh, we bring the big guns out; endorphins & dopamine. The former is what creates a sense of wellbeing, while the latter comes in anticipation of a reward and pleasure. In short, for the majority they will kick Cortisol’s ass. Which makes it an important component for changing your mood.
Move it or lose it
This can be boiled down to the fact that you are moving and the intensity you are moving will determine the measure of endorphins you are excreting in your brain. With some studies saying just 5 minutes walking amongst greenery can have an effect all the way up to 20 minutes of exercise the idea is to just get your body moving to offset the effects a low mood can have on your body and then ultimately to your mind.
Whilst your still breathing, you can guarantee you’ll experience a low mood at some point, that’s life but it doesn’t mean you have to stay there. Apply some or all of these and forget about it.
Takeaway: We all have high moods and low moods. We can also do things that bring us into a high mood. These being stay away from the news, watch comedy & exercise.
Now your turn: Let me know in the comments what you favourite thing to do to increase your mood?