Mood for thought
Are your emotions all over the place? These surprising factors may be to blame
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.
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).