Even if we aren’t always aware of it, we all have tricks we use to manage our emotions on a day-to-day basis.
One of these is that we engage in different activities that help us regulate our moods. When we’re feeling down, we do something that’ll help bring our mood back up.
For example, listening to music is a way people commonly regulate their emotions. You might even have a certain kind of music you like to listen to when things aren’t going your way.
In fact, psychologists have found that some types of music are more conducive to mood regulation than others. Specifically, listening to music you’re familiar with tends to be associated with brain activity related to mood regulation. Among people who play music, singing and improvising are especially well suited to dealing with your emotions. Even “sad” music can raise people’s moods, a paradox that researchers are still grappling with.
Exercise is another popular mood regulator. Exercise is such a powerful way of regulating emotions that it has even been proposed as a treatment for depression. People who have deficits when it comes to regulating their emotions may be especially likely to benefit from exercise.
However, mood regulation isn’t just about what we do but when we do it. We all have a balance of more and less fun things we have to fit into our lives, and our emotion management strategies can affect that scheduling.
In particular, it appears that people are generally more likely to do mood-raising activities like playing sports at points when they’re feeling worse and mood-lowering activities like housework when they’re feeling happier. So in a sense, you may be happiest when you’re doing housework – or right before you do housework, anyway!
Strategically scheduling mood-increasing and mood-decreasing activities this way may be partly how people simultaneously keep their mood more or less stable and fit in all the things they don’t want to do but have to do anyway.
Scientists are still learning about how people regulate their emotions so artfully, but in the meantime it can’t hurt to go for a jog, put on some music, and take advantage of the times you’re feeling good to sneak in a few chores!
D’you notice any techniques you use for mood regulation? Share below!