Mood Management 101

I used to know what I wanted. I had a dream. My assumptions about the future allowed me that freedom.

Now my world is probably similar to yours, a basic box with X number of rooms where we are told to remain, with only a few exceptions for intermittent escape. And like an animal that’s been in captivity for a long time, even if the gate opened I probably wouldn’t venture through it – not right away.

The uncertainty of the future sucks all potential out of dreams. Dreams need to anchor in something solid to feel achievable. Unless your dream exists within the rooms in your box, or the pixels in your computer, it has probably already evaporated.

Nothing in our prior experience prepared us for this un-reality. I’ve found the best way to successfully navigate uncharted waters is to manage that over which I still have control.

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People spending so much time at home begin to notice things that have probably irritated them for years but they were too busy to address. My sister and her husband decided to redo the water system in their kitchen and move the sink.

A nearby neighbor fixed a leaky drain pipe. Then he dug a new septic tank. (This is Bali. You can do that here!)

Stuck in my studio apartment I suddenly needed more elbow-room. It took a day of grunting, groaning, and pushing furniture from side-to-side and back again, but I managed to creatively reconfigure the contents to my satisfaction.

MOOD MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLE #1 – Become industrious in your own space. It’s one place where you still have control. Whether it’s cleaning, organizing, painting, repairing, or rearranging furniture, it shifts attention off the computer, the phone, the news, and away from doom and gloom.

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A Facebook friend began a Get-Healthy-and-Lose-Weight routine January 1st. She posted the other day that as of April 30th she’d lost 37.5 pounds (17 kg) and social distancing has made it easier.

Another acquaintance funneled his anger and feelings of helplessness into poetic verse. He said he never tried poetry before but it keeps him focused on the rhyme instead of the reason. His poems hold to strict anapestic meter with an AABBA rhyme scheme and they’re brilliant.

Then there’s the friend who left an abusive relationship after many years. In close quarters it finally became intolerable.

MOOD MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLE #2 – Practice extreme self-care. It’s another thing you can control. We have to become aware of how this pressure-cooker situation is affecting us personally. It impacts everyone differently. Individuals handle it according to their stress-management ability and it’s a challenge even for those who are stable, well-adjusted, and emotionally healthy.

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My Airbnb host in Italy went into total lockdown with his family fifty-three days ago. His school-age children were sent home to learn online. All income for both him and his wife ceased. They are just now being allowed a brief walk outside. He messaged me: Can go nowhere, do nothing, not even sex. (Spoken like a true Italian!)

There are similar stories world-wide. How do people cope with a life turned up-side-down then put on hold? We aren’t used to moving so slowly, not in our bodies and not through time. It rubs the wrong way. We experience shifting emotions: anger, denial, rejection, alarm, resistance, anxiety, panic, and potentially, terror.

Our nervous systems must undergo re-calibration. This can occur consciously or unconsciously and it makes a difference. What happens in the mind manifests in the body for better or worse. Happiness boosts immunity and resists disease. Stress in all its various forms attacks the immune system and invites illness.

If we allow ourselves to get sucked into the downward spin of endless news reports…

If we let anxiety crawl under our skin until we’re so antsy we want to scream (and maybe we do)…

If we feel helpless without our familiar routines and fail to create new ones…

If we sit on the couch watching hours of TV, numbing-out with alcohol or drugs…

…we wont’ survive intact. Something will give, either mentally or physically.

MOOD MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLE #3 – Push the reset button. Your mind is the third thing over which you have control. Right now the definition of happiness doesn’t fit the situation: Happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can’t help but smile. Yeah…no. Let’s change the word happiness to positivity.

It’s tough, but it IS a choice. We don’t have to dwell on the horror of death and disease even though that’s all anyone thinks or talks about. We can focus on the things we can control: home improvement or self-care projects, hobbies, culinary experiments, online classes or exercise routines. (I saw one on jump-roping. The guy was a machine.) Upon waking in the morning we can resist the urge to check the news and instead look at the sky and breathe a word of gratitude for another day of life.

It takes intention and willpower, but it is possible to observe our minds and manage our moods. If thoughts begin to slip into dark places, we can acknowledge that this is a crazy-making time and adopt a zero-tolerance attitude toward self-destructive energies.

And there’s one fall-back activity that never fails…

Take a nap.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. judybali
    May 03, 2020 @ 22:23:51

    Hi Sherry, Was thinking of you when I took his photo this morning. Not much of a sunrise. But I woke up early for me and this is what I

    I also went back to bed today and watched a bit of outlander on my iPad. I think I overdid it with the psyllium husks in the bread I made and suffered the consequences for it.

    Anyway you are looking great and good tips on staying focused and stable and sane.

    Love,

    Judy

    > On 3 May 2020, at 11:11 pm, writing for self-discovery reply@wordpress.com> wrote: > >  >

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. stevecastley
    May 03, 2020 @ 22:48:45

    Sherry, I really enjoyed this one. Glad things are working for you. Stay safe and well. Steve

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Anonymous
    May 03, 2020 @ 23:11:25

    Love this. I’ve been managing this with calm and equanimity until last Friday when I gave over to anger, frustration, etc. I surprised myself and knew on some level it has been there but safely ensconced in my box of rooms. Going out in the real world with mask, gloves, wipes, disinfectant, etc, became just too much. Home now for a long time again but now at least have flowers on my patio. So well said, Sherry.

    Like

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      May 04, 2020 @ 18:45:13

      I’ve noticed my moods come and go in an unpredictable fashion. And what mood will surface is also unpredictable. Mood management has become a real thing in my life because ‘going dark’ is not acceptable for more than a few minutes.

      Like

      Reply

  4. Gail Brown
    May 04, 2020 @ 06:27:18

    Thanks Sherry, Paul and I both needed that today.🙏🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Diane Struble
    May 04, 2020 @ 17:43:01

    Excellent. Your rooms look beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. writingforselfdiscovery
    May 04, 2020 @ 18:36:34

    Thanks, Di. I felt compelled to change my color scheme to blue and white before I went to Italy and finished the changeover just before I left. I couldn’t be more grateful – blue is the most calming of all colors.

    Like

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  7. Linda Catherine
    May 05, 2020 @ 02:20:08

    Your place looks comfortable and delightful. Your words, so down to earth and practical, give me a sense of peace and well being. Thank you for your writings. I look forward to them every day!

    Like

    Reply

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