"I have been having a lot of mood swings lately. What are good coping mechanisms for mood swings and what can I do to help me prevent them and just get through them?"
Gosh, do I relate to this. Mood swings can be rough, and unfortunately, I know that all too well from personal experience.
As it happens, I actually wrote a blog post on this exact topic last year! In that article, I included some suggestions and ideas for coping with/getting through mood swings, so it may be that some of the content there will be helpful. If you’d like to take a look, here’s the link to that blog post: http://www.nmgmembers.com/blog/sister-to-sister-mood-swings.
That said, here are some coping mechanisms/strategies that I’ve found helpful, both for navigating mood swings and for trying to prevent them in first place:
- Watch for triggers. As you may have noticed, mood swings can sometimes spring on you out of the blue, as it were. However, they do often have triggers, sometimes very small ones that our emotional responses tend to blow out of proportion. When you you find yourself in a mood swing, see if you can identify something that might have contributed to it (a specific thought, a situation, something that happened, etc.). Often, it’s hard to think clearly in mood swings, so try actually writing it out: What happened just before your mood changed, how were you feeling before, is there anything specific that you can recognize as a cause, or part of the cause?
If you can do so, then knowing things which are likely to trigger mood swings for you may make it easier to prevent them in the future, or at least to be prepared. Even if, in the end, you can’t identify any trigger (because sometimes these things really do just happen spontaneously), rationalizing (which I discuss in more detail in the blog post linked to above) in and of itself can be a good way of countering the force of a mood swing.
- Distract yourself. Find calming, enjoyable activities to relax your mind. Listen to music, sing, read or write, go for a walk, pet a dog, wash some dishes, draw, chat with a friend, etc.; anything that makes you feel good. For that matter, even doing things that aren’t necessarily so enjoyable, but that require focus and rational thinking (e.g. homework), can be very helpful, in that it forces your brain to detach itself from the emotions.
- Keep a “positivity” journal or jar, in which you put little things that are likely to help calm you and buoy you up in the midst of a mood swing. Inspirational quotes, cute doodles, ideas for fun ways of distracting to yourself (see above), since it’s often difficult to think of them in the moment, even just a little story about a fun thing you did the other day… anything that’s likely to bring you out of the moment and challenge your mood by making you think of another time, place, or purpose.
- Tell someone! This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in a mood and bottle it up inside; I know this is something I have a tendency to do myself. Talking about it to someone can be very helpful and therapeutic, however; whether to a friend, a family member, or even somewhere like NMG, don’t be afraid to open up about how you’re feeling. We all go through mood swings at one time or another, and there’s a good chance whoever you talk to will understand, and maybe even have advice for coping mechanisms of their own. (If you want, you can always PM me!)
- Express your mood creatively; painting, drawing, poetry, diary entries, etc. Again, this is a way of channeling your feelings into something positive and constructive, rather than letting them boil inside you. I wrote another blog post entitled Expressing Emotions, with some related tips, if you’d like to give that a read as well: http://www.nmgmembers.com/blog/sister-to-sister-expressing-emotions
- Weather the storm. Sometimes, unfortunately, the best you can do may be to hang tight and wait it out. In this case, remind yourself that you’re not alone, that mood swings are normal, no matter how unpleasant… and, perhaps most importantly, remind yourself that it’s just a mood, and it won’t last forever. You’ll come out on the other side intact. Take deep breaths. Recall that mood swings are a common aspect of puberty especially; chances are, as you age, they may become less frequent/intense, and easier to deal with. And remind yourself that your feelings are valid, but you are not defined by your feelings. Emotional reactions are a part of you; you are more than your emotional reactions.
I hope some of this was helpful; again, for more related content/tips, feel free to check out either of the blog posts I linked to above.
If you have any other questions, or want to talk about this further, please feel more than free to either submit another question through the Sister to Sister form or message me directly! And in the meantime, hang in there, Dragonlily; I have every faith that you can get through this. Stay strong. <3