The mood elevator

If we are not aware of how moods work, we can get stuck in the basement too often.

A person has more than 60,000 thoughts a day, based on Deepak Chopra’s 2007 research. Provided this information, it is important to build awareness around how our mood affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviors so we can strengthen our emotional intelligence for healthier relationships and interactions.

The quality of our thoughts changes depending on the mood we are in. It can be helpful for teens and adults to think of moods like an elevator, with high-moods connected to joyful, happy feelings that associate with open, positive thinking; while low-moods would be connected to closed, negative, problem-focused thinking, sometimes because of feelings of fear.

Moods are temporary. A helpful metaphor is to consider moods like passing clouds or ocean tides. Moods change more quickly when we are not actively participating in them. This is important because believing low-mood thinking (for example, thoughts like, “I’m stupid,” “I deserve the way I’m being treated”) or allowing yourself to take action while in a low-mood may lead to unhealthy behavior.

Activities to build skills in adolescents using the mood elevator are part of BeSAFE: Safe, Affirming, and Fair Environments curriculum, a Michigan State University Extension authored program. For example, when in a high-mood and feeling hopeful, you may invite a friend over. Whereas in a low-mood, feeling alone or left out you may lead you to watch TV. Reflecting and planning for these moments can be of great benefit.

When you are in a low-mood, what are some healthy things you can do to take care of yourself? Ideas may be to listen to music, go for a walk/run, draw or write/journal.

How can you help yourself be okay with being in a low-mood, and still protect yourself and others from possible low-mood outcomes? Try communicating that you need space/time, and delay your response or actions.

How can you help to ensure that your low-mood moments don’t negatively affect your relationships with others? Try walking away, creating lists (pros/cons), waiting a day or two or seeking advice or help.

Being alert to the connections of our moods, thoughts, feelings and behaviors provides us with more choices in how we allow our moods to affect us. We can’t prevent a low mood, but we don’t have to get lost in them either.