One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to learn to read signals that our body is sending us about how we’re feeling, mentally as well as physically. It’s easy to take a good mood for granted especially that warm, fuzzy contentment that comes from everything being in balance – a feeling that for some of us is quite rare. I try to consciously stop and let it really sink in and be grateful for it, because I know that there will be other times when things will be completely out of sync.
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It helps to know our own triggers so that we can increase our good moods and manage our bad moods. The way I see it is that besides food and shelter, we all have a set of basic needs that have to be met in order to have balance in our lives, and if any one of these is not being met it can affect everything else.
For me the basic needs are:
- Financial – I’m not contented when I’m worrying about money. My needs are modest but struggling to pay bills keeps me awake at night.
- Emotional – The need to connect with other human beings and to feel loved.
- Spiritual – I don't practice a particular religion but I follow the basic principles of Buddhism.
- Industrious – We all need to work at something and contribute to our community. As well as my paid work I also volunteer which I find satisfying in many more ways because my motivations are different.
- Nurturing – I satisfy my need to nurture through my children, grandchildren and my pets. I’m also discovering the joy of gardening.
- Learning – I need to learn and study to keep my mind active and engaged.
- Creative – This is a very important aspect and one that seems to permeate most of the others. Without a creative outlet I become bored and complacent.
Knowing this helps me to monitor my level of contentment and to know when something is off kilter in any of these areas.
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Sometimes though we can have days when we’re just feeling irritable no matter what. When this happens it helps to think about what we’re doing that might be triggering the mood.
Any or all of the following can trigger irritability:
- Too much caffeine (Coffee, tea, cola, chocolate)
- Too much sugar
- Not enough light or too much artificial light
- Too much screen time
- Background noise
- Low level electronic noise
- Dehydration (not enough fluids during the day)
- Not enough fresh air
- Lack of movement (sitting at a desk or on the couch too long)
- Poor posture (sitting at workstation that is not ergonomically suited to you, head bent forward, arms too high etc.)
- Restrictive clothing
- Bad smells or stale air
- Hunger (or fullness)
- Too hot or cold
- Poor sleep
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So if you find yourself feeling grumpy or grouchy and it’s not because your basic needs aren't being met, chances are it’s one of the possible causes listed above and working that out will help you do something to counteract it.