Our moods are funny things. Up until recently we thought it was just our brain that controlled our mood. Now we understand that it’s like a constant dance between our hormones, gut and brain that contribute to our mood, these are the things that help us deal with that workplace Negative Nancy better on some days, and not so good on others.. Sometimes we get caught off guard and our mind seems like it has a mind of its own. When we understand the things that affect our moods, we can grab some of our control back, and stop yelling at Susan who is traveling 20km under the speed limit.
Moods come from a part of our brain that is deep. It’s called the ‘limbic system’. The thing is they don’t just come out of no where, they have to be triggered. Everyone has different triggers. When your partner doesn’t answer your call that could trigger you to feel that; they may be busy, or away from their phone, some of us may think they could have been in a car accident or something worse has happened. An easy way to think about your emotional brain is like a toddler. For some of us, it’s like a toddler that has had A LOT of sugar or is over tired, for others the toddler is the best behaved kid on the playground. No matter which toddler is living in your brain, it’s up to you ‘the parent’ also known as the upper brain to help control that toddler. So if you’re having trouble with your moods, there are two things you need to do: stop feeding the toddler red cordial and make sure you ‘the parent’ have everything they need to be strong enough to control that toddler.
When we think about our upper brain like a parent, it’s easy the think about what it needs. For one SLEEP. Think about how short your fuse gets when you haven’t had enough sleep. Or when you’re hungry and have low blood sugar. We also know how good we feel when we get out and move our body, eat nourishing food, take deep breathes in and out and focus on things that make us feel grateful. That’s the aim. Sure we can have conditions that alter how we absorb nutrients and how we make our energy and control our metabolism. It’s important to get those things checked by our doctors. But if all of your tests come back negative, the best thing we can do is give the parent in our brain everything it needs so it can calm the toddler and we can feel in control and resilient again.
Also known as the limbic system, as we mentioned higher up, on some days this part of your brain can be a ticking time-bomb of a toddler, on other days it’s like a toddler thats cuddly and happy after a big sleep. Which ‘type’ of toddler we have is dependant on a multitude of factors. As women when we ovulate and release progesterone it helps our toddler calm down and become more resilient. When we take hormonal contraceptives it can have the opposite effect, especially in our younger teenage years. For more info on how your hormones are affecting your moods throughout your lifespan, checkout this.
PhD Psychology, Author of Emotional Agility
Dr. Susan David
When we show up fully, with awareness and acceptance, even the worst demons usually back down. Simply