Sometimes bad moods are triggered by an obvious source, such as a fight with a loved one or bad traffic on the way to work. Other times, however, you may feel like you are less in control of your mood, and you feel grouchy without much of a clear cause. In fact, these slumps may be a regular part of your day, arising in a predictable pattern. That’s because your mood correlates to your circadian rhythm, which is the 24-hour cycle that regulates when you feel sleepy and when you wake up in the morning. Knowing when you are most likely to be pushed into a bad mood during the day can help you schedule important meetings and events accordingly, so that you maximize on the positive energy that occurs between these slumps.
First thing in the morning
Waking up is not always easy, especially for those who don’t identify as “morning people.” First thing in the morning, you will experience a sensation called sleep inertia, which results from the slow process of waking up. Your body needs time to awaken, and the process isn’t instant. For some people, it’s easy to get past the initial grogginess of waking up by focusing on the excitement of a new day. Others may need some liquid ambition in the form of a cup of coffee to kickstart the body and reduce grogginess and negative feelings. If you want a more natural solution for promoting a positive early morning mood, try taking these steps.
- Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier to reduce the stress of getting ready in the morning.
- Allow yourself time to lie in bed with the curtains open, letting sunlight into your room.
- Schedule morning appointments to reduce the urge to go back to bed.
- Eat a healthy, filling breakfast.
Late in the afternoon
Once you’ve gotten past your early morning sluggishness, you might feel energized and ready to take on the day by about 10 a.m. You may feel more focused and awake, right up until lunch. You eat your lunch and get back to the office, and then you feel a crash in your energy levels that immediately affects your mood. This post-lunch lull is a common feeling that correlates with a change in how the brain perceives risk and reward. In the middle of the day, there is the lowest perceived reaction of reward processing, which basically means that everything feels a little less good in the late afternoon. That might mean that you feel crankier and more eager to get out of the office. If possible, try to avoid important meetings during this time, and reserve some of your more mindless, administrative tasks for this point in the afternoon.
Though it can be more difficult to control your mood during these times of day, you can still take steps to stay positive and productive. Check out the MeMD blog for tips on busting your bad mood, and consult our providers when you suspect that your bad mood may be a sign of something more serious.