Mood for thought

Are your emo­tions all over the place? These sur­pris­ing fac­tors may be to blame

Essentials (South Africa) - - SMART IDEAS -

When we’re feel­ing a lit­tle emo­tional, even the smallest thing can knock us off bal­ance. Here are five sur­pris­ing rea­sons your emo­tions might be get­ting the bet­ter of you – and five ways to help you get back on track.

1. Your home

It’s sup­posed to be your sanc­tu­ary, but your lat­est home im­prove­ment could ac­tu­ally put you in a bad mood. Ar­gu­ing about the colour of paint is the most hotly de­bated DIY topic – and there’s a good rea­son why: pick­ing the wrong colour can wreak havoc. In par­tic­u­lar, red can make you feel ir­ri­ta­ble, an­gry and hos­tile. Sort it: Choose yel­lows to boost hap­pi­ness or blues to aid re­lax­ation.

2. Your diet

You’ve prob­a­bly heard it be­fore but you re­ally are what you eat. We’re talk­ing about more than your phys­i­cal body – what’s on your plate can not only upset your gut, caus­ing nau­sea and abdominal pain, but also af­fects your state of mind, caus­ing ir­ri­tabil­ity, mood swings, lack of fo­cus, ner­vous­ness or hy­per­ac­tiv­ity. Sort it: Avoid food or drinks that are packed with sugar, ni­trates, caf­feine, colour­ing, preser­va­tives and ad­di­tives.

3. Your bed­side lamp

Reg­u­larly fall asleep read­ing or watch­ing TV? While it may seem to re­lax you be­fore you hit the hay, it could have neg­a­tive reper­cus­sions as soon as the next day. Re­search has shown that night-time light can sup­press the production of the mood-reg­u­lat­ing hor­mone mela­tonin, which is only pro­duced in dark­ness. Sort it: In­vest in heavy cur­tains or blackout blinds, turn off all lights at night, and leave your phone out­side the bed­room.

4. To-do lists

Al­though to- do lists should help you feel more in control, they can in fact make you feel more over­whelmed than or­gan­ised. This is due to some­thing called the Zeigar­nik ef­fect, which causes us to fix­ate on the items we didn’t get to, rather than the jobs we ticked off. Sort it: Try mak­ing an ‘it’s done’ list at the end of the day in­stead. That way, you’ll get the grat­i­fi­ca­tion without the nag­ging guilt.

5. Smok­ing

Apart from caus­ing cancer and heart dis­ease, smok­ing can also af­fect your men­tal health – ac­cord­ing to New Zealand re­searchers it could in­crease your risk of de­vel­op­ing de­pres­sion. Sort it: Don’t think you can quit on your own? Join CANSA’s free eKick Butt pro­gramme ( ekick­butt.org.za) or Allen Carr’s Easy­way (if you’re a Dis­cov­ery Vi­tal­ity mem­ber you get an 80% dis­count; see al­len­carr.co.za).

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