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Top ten tips to manage mood swings from the author of Moody Bitches


Article by Dr Julie Holland

Dr Julie Holland author photo credit Jessica Hills

 

Breathe.

I know you’ve heard it before, but do it anyway. Long deep breathing, in and out through your nose will calm you down in a flash. It’s an easy way to get out of your head and into your body, which is the first step in feeling grounded and stable.

 

Be Here Now.

Anxiety is about what may or may not happen in the future. Bring your thoughts back to now, to what is actually, verifiably happening in this moment, and your fears will subside.

Sadness is often deeply rooted in the past. Train yourself to take stock of your current inventory, and not fixate on what is missing, or what went irretrievably wrong.

 

Feel your feelings.

Being told to calm down doesn’t quell anger. Trying not to cry will only make it harder to stop. We spend a lot of energy trying not to feel, trying to soothe ourselves with food, alcohol, caffeine, social media, and other drugs. It just postpones the inevitable.

The only way out is through. Feel to heal.

 

Know where you are in your cycle.

Some days you feel like a rock star. Some days you feel like a rock. In the days leading up to your period, you may feel more sensitive, or more easily irritated due to lower levels of estrogen and serotonin. Mid-cycle, high estrogen levels help you to be more resilient and adaptable. Keep track of how you feel, and when, to learn valuable lessons about your natural ebb and flow of sensitivity.

 

Express yourself.

Thanks to estrogen, women seem to have a natural gift for accommodation. We will often bend and stretch to take care of those who need us. It’s tough saying no, but you need to, for your mental health. Otherwise, you may end up feeling like a martyr, or seething with resentment, ready to explode. Take the time to see how you really feel about something, and then communicate that calmly to those around you. If you are more authentic, and do what you feel, things will be easier all around.

 

Good sex soothes the savage breast.

It’s important to have a healthy sex life. Your pleasure matters, to your physical and mental health. If you don’t have a partner, spend time giving yourself the sexual release you need. Remember, back when hysteria was the most popular “diagnosis” for women, the treatment was orgasm.

 

It’s Alright to Cry.

Don’t apologize for your tears. Crying is designed to make you feel better quickly, to feel things deeply, and then move on. Tears signify that things are out of balance, and men need visible signals that emotions are running high. (When trying to decide whether their female partner is sad, men are right only 40 percent of the time. That’s less than if they flipped a coin to help them answer!) Also, sometimes it’s a good idea to let your kids see you cry, especially if they’ve scared you with reckless behavior or frustrated you with thoughtlessness. Tears can underscore lessons in how their behavior affects others.

 

Eat your colors.

Avoid white foods like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. Simple carbohydrates will lead to spikes and crashes in blood sugar and mood. Fiber rich foods, like vegetables, beans, and nuts will help stabilize both. Omega three fatty acids can help to tamp down reactivity and irritability, so oily fish, flax seeds, and hemp seeds are important.

 

Be more like an animal.

Humans are social primates. We are meant to physically bond with others, to lock eyes, to take in one another’s scent. (Pheromones help us to select a mate and solidify bonding with our children.) Go outside. Being in the sunshine will help your mood. Vitamin D is necessary to keep serotonin levels up in the brain, and also to keep inflammation down in the body. Regular exercise (even a daily walk) will help keep anxiety and depression at bay. It is the one thing I bug my patients about the most.

 

Prescription drugs should be your last resort, and for the shortest time.

More women are finding themselves on psychiatric medications than ever before, and staying on them far longer than was ever proven safe. Even more important, their widespread use is creating a new normal, changing the tipping point for when other women will seek chemical assistance. Like steroids in baseball, or doping in biking, if everyone starts doing it, then the players who don’t are at a disadvantage.

 

Moodiness is natural; it is a sign of health, not disease. Sensitivity to our environment, and to those around us, may be our single biggest asset. Don’t put the alarm on mute.

 

Moody Bitches. Author Dr Julie Holland is a certified psychopharmacologist (an expert on drugs and the brain) and in Moody Bitches argues it is important for women to embrace their moods and being a bitch (for example taking a fighting stance to tackle cancer) can be a good thing. There is a lot in the book about how we can look after ourselves and advice on diet, exercise, sleep and sex.

 

 

Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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