Do You Use These Strategies to Manage Your Mood?

Stress is our reaction to people or things going on around us. Sometimes these things are positive, i.e. a vacation, a promotion or a special event. Sometimes the things are negative, i.e. a traffic ticket, someone you care about is ill, or projects at work are not meeting deadlines.

How do you manage your mood when:

• There is too much to do and not enough time to do it in?

• People around you seem to have time to do fun things and you don’t?

• Things are happening around you that you have no control over?

• Projects at work are not meeting deadlines and you are working longer hours?

Susan Vaugham, MD, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University states in her book, Half Empty, Half Full that optimists have the ability to feel in charge of themselves. This does not mean everything will go well. It means they will not be overwhelmed emotionally when things get hectic or do not go well.

When you are unhappy about how things are going, there are three strategies which will help you move forward in a positive direction:

1. Alter.

2. Avoid.

3. Accept.

To decide which is the best strategy for you to use:

• Ask yourself if you have control of the situation or if you can influence someone who does have control. If your answer is yes, often you can alter the situation by problem solving, direct communication, organizing and planning or time management. If your answer is no, altering is usually not an option. There is no point in focusing on things you cannot change.

• Know what your top five values are. Ask yourself what is most important to you. The more you are living your values, the more satisfied you are with your life. Saying no or removing yourself helps you to avoid tasks that will drain you. In addition, it is necessary to know when it is appropriate to delegate tasks in a work situation.

• When you cannot alter or avoid a situation, you may have to accept it.

• To accept a situation, you may have to change your perception of it by asking yourself if your expectations are realistic. If not, is there another way to look at the situation, or redefine it. You can look for an opportunity to do something else. See the situation as temporary. Keep it as specific as possible. For instance, if your project is behind schedule, be specific about why it is running late. Make appropriate adjustments. Realize it is temporary.

When you have to accept a situation, you need to build your resilience by eating healthy, exercising, practicing relaxation techniques, using positive affirmations, building your support system, having faith, and commitment.

When you feel your stress level increasing, remember you have three choices:

1. Alter.

2. Avoid.

3. Accept.

To determine your best option, you also need to ask yourself two more questions:

• What do I want to do?

• What do I need to do?

Needs are a high priority. They match your values or what is most important to you. Wants are different from needs. You can want many things. Those that are most important to you will be the ones you strive for in your life.

To best manage your mood, consider your needs, wants, and values before you choose to alter, avoid, or accept the stressful situation in your life. Then take positive steps to move forward confidently.