Hack your habits to find out the source of your emotional roller coaster
Whether it was your hot water running out, spilling coffee down your cute new work dress, or accidentally flashing your good-looking new trainer during a morning boot camp class, some days you wake up and you just know it’ll be a dreary one.
Other days, however, the reasons for that hopeless feeling aren’t so finite. You’ve got a great job, great friends and a big bottle of vino waiting for you at home. You managed to start your morning minus any embarrassing, catastrophic events. Overall, you’ve got a lot going for you. So how can you explain suddenly lashing out at your coworker, missing an important deadline, or feeling so unmotivated that you skip out on weekly drinks with your girls?
From hormonal changes to vitamin deficiencies to a lack of sleep, these experts pinpoint seven reasons why your mood might be plummeting lately—and what you can do about it.
You’re not getting enough nutrients (at the right time)
According to Ari Hoffman, a licensed professional counselor and owner of Ari Hoffman Psychotherapy, a diet lacking in proper nutrients can have adverse effects on your mood. “People often talk about low blood sugar being correlated with a bad mood, but not eating right (and at the right times) can make your mood plummet,” he says. “An unhealthy diet and poor eating schedule can lead to a deficit in iron and other chemicals your body that can make you anxious, depressed and stressed.”
You’re not getting enough sleep
As a Gallup poll found, nearly 40 percent of Americans are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep per night (6.8 hours versus the seven to nine). And according to the National Sleep Foundation, the less nightly snooze you get, the less healthy you’re likely to be overall (and that includes your mental state).
“If you ever have a day when your mood is all over the place and you get stressed or angry at small things, a lack of sleep could be why,” says Hoffman. ‘
Trouble clocking in pillow time? Try these eight tips to help you fall asleep faster.
You recently encountered a familiar but unsettling experience
For most of us, there tends to be that one place or experience that is totally unnerving. Maybe it’s a four-way stop (like the kind you were smashed into all those years ago by another car), or the sight of a dog in a spiked collar (like the one that bit you as a child). According to Hoffman, encountering these unsettling experiences—even years later—can cause your mood to plummet unexpectedly.
“When you have a negative experience, the body keeps a memory of that,” he says. “When you are exposed to something that reminds you of that experience your body may react unexpectedly and you will feel a rush of emotion or even physical symptoms.”
Aside from avoiding four-way stops or dog parks altogether, knowing what specifically scares you and mentally preparing yourself for it can help you better face it when the time comes.
You’ve become a workaholic
If leaving the office past eight each night has become the norm (coupled with a sour attitude), your body might be sending you a subtle message to ease up on the workload a bit.
“Of course, we think we know when we are stressed, but when that becomes the new normal, what then?” says Hoffman. “Our bodies will sometimes give us subtle and not-so-subtle messages that we are working too hard and too long to get us to remember that just because this is normal doesn’t mean it’s good.” Try having a candid talk with your supervisor to see if there’s any way to alleviate the workload.
You’re not getting enough exercise
While exercising to become healthier is a no-brainer, what might not be so commonly understood is its effect on mood. According to the American Psychological Association, only five minutes of exercise can result in a brighter, more enthusiastic outlook, in addition to having substantial long-term effects as well.
“Even though sitting on the couch watching television might feel good in the moment, if you feel like your mood isn’t staying as stable as you expect, you might want to schedule a 15-minute exercise regimen into your daily schedule,” says Hoffman.
You might have a magnesium deficiency
If your sleep, exercise, and work schedules seem to be running smoothly and you still are having trouble mustering up the enthusiasm to get out of bed in the morning, according to Dr. Carolyn Dean, a stress management expert, a magnesium deficiency might be to blame.
“Sudden moodiness may signal a depletion of the anti-stress mineral magnesium,” she explains. “Serotonin, the feel-good brain chemical that is boosted artificially by some medications, depends on magnesium for its production and function.”
According to Dr. Dean, coffee, alcohol, medications, and exercise can thwart the mineral’s effects, which could account for your mood plunging even after exercising five days per week. While she recommends liquid-mixable powders, you can also find high levels of the nutrient in several types of nuts and grains.
Your hormones could be out of whack
As a woman, a fluctuating mood (for a few days of the month, at least) can sometimes be attributed to having a period. But what if your attitude is less-than-bright, even after menstruation has passed?
According to Trotta, you might want to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist—hormones could be to blame here. “If the fluctuations in mood are due to hormonal changes, you can discuss those options with your doctor. Oral contraceptives could be a great solution.”
Written by Julia Sullivan. This post was originally published on ClassPass's blog, The Warm Up. ClassPass is a monthly membership that connects you to more than 8,500 of the best fitness studios worldwide. Have you been thinking about trying it? Start now on the Base Plan and get five classes for your first month for only $19.