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Why your mood swings will not affect your productivity: the art of practicing self-control

strategy toolsWritten by Joyce Del Rosario

It is sometimes difficult to be in the company of people who suffer from mood swings and cannot control them. The problem is that not only the “sufferer” suffers, his whole world suffers with him; his co-workers, his family and his loved ones.

When mood swings become acute and uncontrollable, a medical intervention should be considered. Drastic mood swings, when a person can’t fall asleep for days because he/she is elated, followed by a period in which the person can’t get out of bed due to depression, require therapy and medication to lessen the severity of those episodes.

But for most of us, mood swings are something we live with and manage on our own. Not everyone around us has to suffer because we cannot control our impulse to show how we feel internally.

How do we do that? How to keep your mood to yourself so it will not affect your co-workers and/or your productivity? How not to lash out when you are angry? How to shut-up and listen instead of react?

By practicing self-control.

Self-control is the ability to make decisions about how and when we express emotions, and what impulses we shouldn’t or should act upon. We are all born selfish, wanting to get everything we see, but our education starts at an early age. We learn what we can and cannot do, what is acceptable in society and what is not. We are taught to practice self-control. And this practice should continue for the rest of our lives.

How to cope with daily life stress, how to keep a healthy balance of give and take and how to avoid over emotional responses emerge with this continuing practice.

When you act or react under stress, your mind is anxious and the nerves are stretched to the limit. There is a good chance you will not reach the right decision. Stepping away from the problem for a while or ‘sleeping on it’ and then acting will make your actions balanced. Remember Scarlett O’Hara’s line in ‘Gone with the Wind’? – “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow”. Recent research has shown that while sleeping our brain continues to process information, and sometimes in the morning things look much clearer.

  • The first part of practicing self-control is delaying your reaction. Count to ten very slowly before you react. It will take your mind off the unpleasant emotional situation and will give you some time to catch your breath. Yes, this is the first physical step in self-control – control your breathing. Breathe slowly and deep. By delaying your reaction, you break a cycle that has been an instinctual habit of yours for many years.
  • Have a secure place where you can go and be by yourself to get your strength back. It doesn’t have to be a physical place; it can be a mental one. Use your imagination and build yourself a place where you feel safe. It’s a form of meditation to go to this place for a few minutes, be in a place that you love and feel good in; a room, the beach, the mountains, a garden. Closing your eyes and going to this place will keep you focused and will improve your productivity.
  • Put things in perspective. How important is what just happened to your world – to the things you personally care about? Is it just a bleep on the radar that will be forgotten in no time? Why waste energy on something unimportant?

Practicing those things in everyday life will lead to better impulse control and improved productivity, personal relationships and work environment.


Photo credit: Sam Hames via Flickr cc

Joyce Del Rosario is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of massage courses and personal training courses. When not working, Joyce blogs about health and fitness.If you have a blog and would like free content.

About Greg Dillon

Greg is the founder of strategy consultancy GD | Inspires and spends his days strategising for various design agencies and clients around the world - see more at http://gdinspires.com. He is also a prolific entrepreneur having launched Strat-Talking.com - a website aimed at giving advice and insight to new, existing and veteran freelancers as well as commenting on all things strategic as well as acquiring CreativeAgencyFreelancing.com for designers. Feel free to email him at: greg@gdinspires.com or follow on Twitter @CAFreelancing.

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