Do you wake up on the “wrong side of the bed” more mornings than not? Have your family or friends told you that you seem more tense or irritable than usual? Do you feel that you’re locked in a bad mood and don’t know why? Sometimes a bad mood is a natural reaction to extreme stress or sad events. No amount of cheering up will banish the blues until you work through your emotions.
There are times, however, when a bad mood hits out of the blue and we haven’t a clue why we’re feeling so out of sorts. The “I don’t know why I feel this way” bad mood could be due to lifestyle issues that can be corrected. Using a mood tracker that monitors your mood throughout the day may help you find the connection between lifestyle and mood.
Below are some tips on how to use your apps and trackers to shake off that bad mood.
Too Little Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the link between sleep and mood “has been seen over and over” by physicians and researchers. In fact, studies show that people with insomnia are 10 times more likely to have clinical depression than people who do not. Of course, this gets into the “chicken or the egg” territory: Is the depression causing the sleeplessness or is the inability to sleep making you depressed? It depends on the person, but it’s interesting to note that people with sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that causes frequent night awakenings, are five times more likely to be depressed than people who don’t have this problem. This suggests that lack of sleep itself may be the cause of mood problems.
Experts recommend that people get anywhere between 7-9 hours sleep per night: If you’re getting less sleep than you need, or poor quality sleep, see what a renowned sleep doctor says on how a sleep tracker can help you get better zzzs at night.
Numerous studies have linked excess sitting to a wide range of health problems, but did you know that it could also put you in a bad mood? According to “Reducing Occupational Sitting Time and Improving Worker Health: The Take a-Stand Project, 2011,” sedentary workers who were given adjustable desks that enabled them to stand more and sit less reported “significant improvement in self-reported mood states.”
Exercise is a well-known mood booster, but the precise mechanism through which it works is not known. The famous “runner’s high” or feeling of wellbeing people experience after extreme physical exertion is believed to be triggered by a release of endorphins, “feel good” chemicals in the brain. Some studies, however, suggest that the lift in mood is due to the fact that exercise may stimulate a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, which is a natural mood enhancer.
A famous and oft quoted study published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999 found that for some people over 50, regular, vigorous exercise was as good a treatment for depression as a leading antidepressant medication. This is not to suggest that it will work for everyone, or that people should throw out their antidepressants and go the gym. But the going to the gym part — or at least making an effort to get some exercise everyday — is good advice for everyone.
Are you getting enough exercise to lift your mood? An activity tracker can help keep you on your feet and moving.
Too Much Junk Food
A recent national survey conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Harvard School of Public Health and National Public Radio found that people reported changing their diets during times of stress — not for the better.
And most of us don’t need a study to tell us that when we feel upset or frustrated, we often turn to “comfort food” to cheer us up, which is usually food that is high in refined sugar. Refined, sugary foods may provide a quick pick-me-up — the so-called “sugar high” — but once these foods are processed in the body, they can leave us feeling depleted, tired and in a worse mood. In contrast, studies have shown that fruits and vegetables containing compounds called polyphenols are natural mood boosters. If you crave something sweet, reach for some cherries, berries or an apple so you don’t blow your diet, which will put you in an even worse mood.
Self-treatment can take you so far. If a bad mood lingers for too long and you find that it’s interfering with your ability to function, you should talk to your doctor or health professional.