For many years, not a day went by when I didn’t hear “Mommy, are you happy?” My children were constantly trying to gauge how I was feeling at any given moment. It was well known in my house that my mood was just as unpredictable as the Ohio Valley weather we lived in. I blamed that on pregnancy/postpartum hormones, lack of sleep, feeling spread too thin caring for 5 kids, a husband that worked too much and helped too little. In fact, I blamed it on all sorts of external circumstances because I was just terrible at controlling my mood swings throughout the day. But the truth is, even when many of those circumstances were NOT my reality at the moment, I was a therMOMeter!
The thermometer has absolutely NO CONTROL over the temperature, all it can do is REACT to it.
At home, my desire for control often clashed with the chaos reigning around me. So, if you were to track my mood throughout the day, it may remind you of a rough sketch of the Rocky Mountains with HIGH peaks and LOW valleys. All this variation was in reaction to the atmosphere in my home. Was it peaceful or chaotic? Were there laughter or tears? Was there respect or sas? I REACTED to the situation just as a thermometer reacts to the temperature.
While there may be reasons my mood would shift from one end of the spectrum to the other, I knew I truly had no excuses to get so out of control. I am certainly not discounting that hormones, exhaustion and the constant feeling of living in survival mode will push moms to their limits. Trust me, I GET it! What I am suggesting is that we don’t have to allow them to push us to EXTREMES. Controlling mood swings does require some change, but not in our circumstances, in US!
Here are some things you can do to prevent your mood swings instead of letting your circumstances control your mood:
- ADJUST YOUR DIET: Drink more water, eat more fruit & veggies (at least 5 servings), indulge in moderation. While I believe there should always be a little “mommy chocolate” hidden in the fridge, the truth is that living off coffee and empty calories is not nourishing your body, leaving you without the physical energy you need to be in control of your moods.
- GET SOME REST: Take a Power Nap! Sometime between 1-4pm, set an alarm & lay your head down on for ONLY 10-30min to feel refreshed & more alert. Whether you are doing 2am feedings, waiting for teen to come home for curfew or just staying up late because you treasure the few precious hours of peace & quiet, it is unlikely you are getting 8 full hours of sleep every night. Being well-rested will help you stay in control of your mood swings.
- GET MOVING: Ironic that this is the opposite from above, right? Not really. This doesn’t mean keep working at whatever you do all day long. It means get some kind of physical excercise that is different. Whether that means quick walk around the neighborhood, a trip to the gym, or just parking as far away from the grocery store as possible. Exercise gets your endorphins moving and helps alleviate symptoms of stress which causes mood swings.
- CLEAN UP: Getting organized and rid of clutter can do wonders for clearing your head as well. Grab an empty laundry basket or bin, set the timer for 5 min, and walk around whichever 2 rooms YOU are in the most, scooping up everything that doesn’t belong. Then, set the timer again and empty the bin by putting the items in whatever room they belong. Kids of ALL ages can help with this task so get them involved! A tidy enviroment can help you relax, making mood swings easier to control.
- DO SOMETHING YOU ENJOY: Read a good book, watch a comfort movie, go out to lunch with a friend, take a hot bath, work on a project that you love. So often, women get caught up in the lives of others, that they forget to enjoy their own! It’s not wrong to pull away for an hour a week and call it your OWN. So hire a babysitter or trade off childcare with another mom and do something you enjoy!!
- PRAY: Even when you have eaten well, feel rested, had time exercise, cleaned your kitchen AND enjoyed some “me time,” there is NOTHING that helps you control your mood swings more than praying for God’s strength and intervention in the moments when you want to lose control. Anything good that comes from us starts with God. He is the giver of the good fruits that we so desperately strive to grow.
When you are loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, you also have SELF-CONTROL! If you are in a season on life that has your moods swinging to extremes, start each day with a prayer that God will GIVE you these things in the moments you need them.
Stop being the therMOMeter that reacts to the temperature of the room and start being the thermostat that controls it with your even temper.
You CAN control your mood so it stops controlling you!
Need more specific tips on controlling your anger? Check out 5 Ways to Break the ANGRY Habit.
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