I’m sitting down to write a helpful post for you about reversing mood swings, and just two hours ago I had one of my own- the tears started flowing, and I felt like I was at my upper limit. Of course, it was over something really simple- my sister’s puppy jumped up and his teeth got me right in the lip and that was it. I felt like I wanted to go ball my eyes out back in bed.
Thankfully, I’m well aware of the techniques I need to turn that mood around and prevent myself from becoming one with my mattress.
And so, instead of crawling back under the sheets and giving this day a big middle finger, I’m here at my laptop writing and getting shit done with more of a smile on my face than I would’ve 5 years ago, when my mood was at the height of bitchiness.
Why Do We Get Mood Swings?
Before we can talk about those simple secrets to eradicating your mood swings, it’s important to understand why the flip you’re getting them in the first place! Knowledge is power ladies, and when you know what’s happening in your body, it becomes MUCH easier to fix it.
There are so many reasons we get mood swings, from physical processes (like imbalanced hormones) to our lifestyle and coping strategies. I’m going to share four major reasons below.
P.S. Nightly wine does not count as a healthy coping strategy.
#1 “Type A” Living + Overcommitment
I want to address lifestyle factors contributing to mood swings before we get into the body science bit. Why? Because we’re always searching for something physically wrong when we don’t feel right, and often (knowingly or unknowingly) avoid thinking about how our lifestyle, emotional and mental health are playing into mood manifestation.
Likely if you’re reading this, you’re a Type A personality. In my clinical experience, most women are- and the more “Type A” they are, the harder they are on themselves, and the worse their moods become.
You might be considered a Type A personality (Type A and B were developed by psychologists based on how people react to stress) if you’re:
- Very competitive
- Extremely self-critical
- Easily wound up
- Tend to overreact
- Feeling a constant sense of urgency around time and getting things done
- Easily aroused to hostility or anger
- Feeling guilty about taking time for yourself
- A multi-tasker
I’m a Type A too, and it takes constant compassion from me to ME to bring myself back down to earth. I’ve come along way in the past 6 years (thanks in part to my man Kyle) to where I have times of feeling more laid back, relaxed and ready to go with the flow.
One of the biggest things I notice about Type A women is that we tend to overcommit. We’ll work full time, cook the food, walk the dog, take the kids to after-school activities, join the PTA, help a friend, clean the house, make sure our partner can sit back and relax- and just about anything else we can squeeze in to our limited time.
Did you notice a serious LACK of time for yourself? Yep- it’s basically impossible when you’re constantly giving and doing for everyone else.
Here’s where the mood swings start. Anger, aggression, over-reacting to stupid shit, insomnia-inducing anxiety and creeping depression to the point where we don’t even recognize ourselves anymore.
#2 Estrogen – Progesterone Imbalance
Now that you’re sufficiently riled up after reading the above, let’s talk about science and physiology- my personal favorite part, as a major (proud) nutrition nerd.
As you may be aware, estrogen and progesterone are your major sex hormones. They are made in the ovaries (mostly) and regulate just about everything for us ladies. Not just our cycles and menstrual flow, but also our moods, our energy, our weight and so much more.
Typically, women who experience PMS-related mood swings are estrogen dominant. What this means is that they have too much estrogen in relation to progesterone. This is even possible if your estrogen levels are low, so watch out for that.
When you’re living with low levels of progesterone, you’re more prone to mood swings. Progesterone is a naturally calming hormone, and when in balance can reduce levels of anxiety. Estrogen on the other hand helps your mood stay uplifted, where you feel sexy, powerful and in control. Mess with the balance of these babies and you’re up shit creek when it comes to your moods.
#3 Cortisol and Adrenal Imbalance
Cortisol is your major stress hormone, created in your adrenal glands. Cortisol is released in response to both short-term and long-term stress. In an acutely dangerous and stressful situation, cortisol is fantastic because it helps our bodies to either fight or run the hell away from whatever the danger is.
However, when we are getting riled up about everything (see the Type A description above), including the commute to work, dirty dishes in the sink and an over-bearing boss- cortisol is constantly being released, and this will lead to more, crazier mood swings, adrenal burnout, weight gain (hello, belly fat!), etc.
Cortisol also influences neurotransmitters, those chemicals that allow nerves to talk to each other and have a major impact on our mood (like serotonin, for example). Specifically, cortisol gums up the synthesis, transport, breakdown and overall activity of neurotransmitters, leaving you depressed and anxious. I highly recommend checking out the book “The Cortisol Connection” by Shawn Talbott if you’re dying to know more about this science (it’s NOT a light read).
#4 Underactive Thyroid
Another endocrine gland, the thyroid, also plays a role in mood swings. Situated comfortably on your neck, the thyroid plays a role in your menstrual cycle, your metabolism, your immune system and your mood, to name a few duties.
The thyroid gland is connected to your adrenals and your ovaries through the OAT Axis, or Ovary-Adrenal-Thyroid axis. They communicate through this axis, and if one is out of balance, chances are the other two are as well. For example, if you’re super stressed, your adrenals are not doing so well, and your body is going to use energy to support them rather than making sex hormones like progesterone, leaving you anxious.
In connection to the thyroid, when the adrenals and/or ovaries are going down the crap shoot, the thyroid gland can become sluggish, deepening any imbalances in the adrenals and ovaries, adding to the moodiness. Nutrient deficiency (especially minerals) also contributes to this.
It’s important to realize that even if your doctor says your thyroid is “normal” or within range, it may still not be functioning properly. Doctors don’t do deep testing if your
TSH comes back normal, so you could be walking around with a thyroid issue and not even know about it. But that’s a topic for another day and another post.
7 Simple Secrets to Easily Eradicate Your Mood Swings
Phew! Now that you understand your body, let’s talk about how to eradicate these mood swings. Moods naturally change depending on external and internal factors as a normal function, but if it’s so severe it’s affecting your ability to function in daily life, it’s time to implement some of these simple secrets.
#1 Eat Fat
Forget about the low-fat fad you’ve been conditioned to use in your own diet. It’s false science, and it’s creating a LOT of health problems for many people.
Fat is the biggest part of our cell membranes (every single cell in our bodies), it is used to create hormones (like progesterone and cortisol), keeps our blood sugar balanced and generally calms the nervous system by insulating nerves.
Make sure to get fat at every meal. My personal favorite way to start the day is with a bulletproof matcha latte, which is loaded with fats and seriously sets my mood and energy up to be stable all day like nothing else ever has.
Other sources of fat to include with your meals are coconut oil/milk/butter, avocados, hemp seeds, chia seeds, all other nuts and seeds, butter, ghee (clarified butter), animal skins/meats, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, olives and olive oil, etc.
Aim for a high-fat breakfast plus an additional 1-2 tbsp. added fat to each meal.
#2 Morning Meditation
In 2016 one of my goals was to implement a rejuvenating morning routine that included at least 5 minutes of meditation. I’m happy to say that I reached that goal, and have increased my meditation time to 10 minutes since the start of 2017. Ladies- it has changed my life. No word of a lie- people through that statement around, but I’m being completely serious here.
I notice on the odd day that I don’t meditate first thing, I’m moody, my energy sucks and I’m generally a royal biotch to be around.
You can do it too. Whether it’s a guided meditation, sitting silently and breathing, using a male or other meditation implement, sitting, standing, walking, lying down- it seriously does not matter. The only thing that matters is that you do it consistently.
You can get an example of a short two-minute meditation in my Happy Hormones in 5 Minutes a Day cheat sheet! Simply click the image below to get your free copy.
#3 Take Breaks
Remember how we talked about why being a go-go-go Type A person and overcommitting yourself is contributing to mood swings? Well, here’s where we remedy that. Simply, stop working yourself into the ground and take a few minutes throughout the day to give yourself a break.
Dr. James Wilson, author of “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” recommends getting horizontal if you can during breaks to help recirculate energy and calm yourself down.
Breaks can be as little as 5 minutes or as long as 30+ minutes, depending on what you have time for. Schedule it in your planner like any other task or appointment to make sure you’re consistent. I’ll be taking my morning break once I finish writing this article.
Beyond taking breaks, it’s important to rest. If you get up in the morning to rush around getting yourself ready before running out the door and freaking out about slow drivers because YOU made yourself late, to boogying around work and back home to make dinner, do stuff with the kids and head back out the door for either kids or personal to-dos and activities, there’s no rest time in there.
Likely you’re also having trouble sleeping if this is your lifestyle, reducing the amount of rest you get even more.
Fill your cup so you can pour out to others (in a happy, joyous and altogether non-grumpy way).
Go to bed 30 minutes earlier. Take those horizontal breaks. Take a restorative yoga class. Whatever you need to do to get more daily rest.
A happy gut = happy hormones. It may seem silly to talk about gut health when it comes to mood, but it’s incredibly important for a few reasons.
Having a healthy probiotic (healthy bacteria) balance in the body can:
- Calm the nervous system
- Increase production of happiness chemicals like serotonin and GABA
- Improve estrogen detoxification to lessen/help with estrogen dominance
- Improve resilience and immune system
- Support the thyroid gland
- And MUCH more. . .
Seriously the research on the benefits of probiotics has just touched the tip of the iceberg, but we DO know that it’s SO important for everything going on in your body.
You can get probiotics by consuming fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, beet kvass and much more. You can also try a probiotic supplement. My personal favs are:
- Healthy Start System by Natren
- MegaSpore Biotic by Physician’s Exclusive (only available through practitioners like myself)
#6 Liver Detox
Functional liver detoxification is imperative for good probiotic balance, for detoxifying excess estrogens and other hormones like cortisol, and for the health of your mood. By regularly supporting gentle liver detoxification, you can remedy any estrogen dominance happening that might be messing with your mood.
You can also help regulate the movement of qi (chi), prana (life force) or energy through your body. When the liver is stagnant or sluggish, feelings of anger, irritability, hostility, teariness, and depression may result.
You can easily support your liver daily by:
- Drinking warm lemon water with some MSM powder upon waking
- Eating loads of veggies- especially the leafy green kind
- Swapping your coffee or caffeinated tea for liver-helping teas like Detox Tea, milk thistle, dandelion root and/or nettle tea
- Exercising and sweating regularly
#7 B Vitamins
All the B vitamins will play some role in regulating adrenals, sex hormones and mood issues. For example, vitamin B5 helps to regulate stress (anxiety!) and adrenal gland function. Vitamin B6 helps to regulate mood and increase progesterone (which when low can contribute to anxiety). Vitamin B1 or thiamine could also help to remedy mood issues like anxiety and depression. I always recommend getting your B vitamins through a B-vitamin complex supplement that includes all the Bs, as they work synergistically together and prevent an imbalance of Bs from happening.
Foods: dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and collard greens, lentils, bell peppers, liver, eggs, almonds, walnuts, sardines, oats and sea vegetables
Dose: Follow bottle directions or directions from your natural healthcare practitioner
- Stress B Complex by Thorne
- Pro-B Complex by AOR Professional
- Advanced B Complex by AOR
- B-Complex Plus by Pure Encapsulations
Used for: Sleep disturbances, mood issues like irritability, depression and anxiety, inability to handle stress or low resilience, irregular, painful or heavy menstrual cycles, digestive difficulty, lack of energy and focus, brain fog