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Controlling your moods

Sarah Horrocks Published by Sarah Horrocks
Published on 22 January 2009

Bust-up with your other half? Call from the banker? Stuck in traffic again? It’s not easy to keep your cool in these types of situations, but you need to learn how to control your moods, especially in the world of work.

What is a mood?

In everyday language we liken it to ‘morale’ or 'spirit.' To be in high spirits is to be in a good mood.

Emotions that get the better of us

Our emotions are biological forces that we need to learn how to control. They come before our thoughts, but a situation comes before our reaction to it. People who are over-emotional should learn how to control their moods, as it's not good to give a negative emotion free rein: this does nothing but strengthen it. However, it is always damaging to keep your emotions in, and all the more so for negative emotions. You need to find a balance so that you express yourself fairly, staying polite and repressing all agression.

Watch out for mood swings!

Our mood changes according to where we are, what we are doing and our personalities. These fluctuations concern all of us. The problem arises when thesy become disabling:

Cyclothymy: mood swings that don’t last long and are not very intense. Mood regulators can be prescribed, but usually just learning to control your moods is enough.

Bipolar disorder: also called manic depressive disorder or psychosis, characterised by longer, more intense mood swings. People who suffer from it become hypersensitive and hyperactive faced with stressful situations.

Observe the signs

Remaining master of your emotions requires introspection. It’s important to know what triggers a variation in your emotions and your mood. It’s also valuable to be able to recognise these in others. When working in a team, we are constantly confronted with other people’s emotions, positive or negative. Identifying the dominant signs, decrypting expressions and looks help to indentify the risk situations and communicate better by taking into account the emotional state of the person you are speaking to.

Managing your mood at work

When morale is low, the consequences on your work are numerous. A drop in productivity, tension with colleagues, or - worse - your boss. Instead of shouting, you have to keep it to yourself. But from time to time, you need to know how to listen to your anger as it alerts you to a present frustration or an unfulfilled desire. Though think twice about venting your anger on your boss...

Confide in someone

To free your mind and preserve your relationships with your colleagues as best you can, you must dare to confide in someone. Beforehand, be clear about what you expect from this person (advice or simply someone to talk to).

Why am I in a bad mood?

A bad mood is a result of an unfulfilled need. Often we invent excuses to justify it: I’m tired, I got out of the wrong side of the bed, I’m on my period...A bad mood is an alarm bell: for example, anxiety can mean fear or danger that you need to watch out for; frequent increases in anger can mean you're dissatisfied in your personal life. Once you're aware something is wrong, your mind takes control to find an appropriate solution to the unsatisfied need.

Some advice

- To manage day-to-day pressure, take some time out for yourself to relax and treat yourself (to some shoppping, a hot bubble bath or a massage).

- Learn to breathe deeply from your stomach. This is the basis of relaxation. Breathe in deeply while inflating your stomach, then breathe out slowly through your mouth.

- Get a good night's sleep to respect your internal biological clock. Sleep as soon as you are tired in the evening. The longer you push back bedtime, the more you push back your sleep cycle, and when you don't sleep well it puts you in a bad mood.

- Choose a sport to help you let off steam. If you suffer from frustration, try tennis or squash. If you want to free yourself from loss or sadness, the best sport to try is swimming.

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