Sudden changes in mood can be a source of discomfort that affects all aspects of our lives . They facilitate the emergence of arguments, are distracting and, of course, are unpleasant for those who experience them directly.

An added factor of discomfort is not knowing very well where the bad mood comes from. When someone talks about how bad we look in these situations, the answers we give in this respect are almost always insufficient . For example, if someone complains that we have been angry when they have made a simple request, we will probably answer something like “you are always asking me for help”.

The causes of moodiness

Despite the little logic that seems to exist in the reasons why someone thinks they are angry when they are in a bad mood, the truth is that there are real factors that explain a good part of these emotional states. Our mind is not independent of our body, so both the material state of our nervous system and our habits have effects on the way we think and feel.These you will see below are the most important influencing factors.

1. Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep has a very important influence on how we think and how we feel. When we sleep little or with frequent interruptions, our brain does not fully recover, and this means that it has to deal with everyday tasks with very limited resources and in a bad way. We must take into account that this set of organs is always active, and therefore exposed to a great deal of wear and tear. The moments when we sleep are stages in which this activation becomes of another type, making the maintenance and recovery of these cellular tissues possible.

The result of this is, of course, that we tend to think worse and have a lot of difficulty in managing our attention well. Furthermore, this makes us get frustrated and feel bad, which in turn makes it easier for us to reach the threshold of bad moods very quickly . By the time the day comes when someone asks us for something, we have already gone through a number of small daily failures, and so we react badly to the need to put our brain to work again.

Thus, complaints are the way we try to turn something that is really a cry for help, a request for more time to rest, into reasonable arguments.

2. Long-term stress

Stress is also the perfect breeding ground for bad moods.

In fact, it is rare that these levels of anxiety maintained for days are experienced with a good face, as if that psychological discomfort were an edifying sacrifice assumed in favor of a greater good. It almost always translates into tantrums and leads us to adopt a more cynical and pessimistic style of thinking . Somehow, we remain biased and interpret everything in a negative way.

The reason for this is very similar to the case of lack of sleep. Continuous stress is a consequence of a neuroendocrine system that needs to rest and “unhook itself” from a series of tasks and ideas that capture our attention for too long, whether we want it to or not. This causes our thinking to go into a loop, a phenomenon known as rumination .

  • You can learn more about rumination by reading this article: “Rumination: The Annoying Vicious Circle of Thought”

3. Vital pessimism caused by a philosophy of life

There is a type of mood that is deeper and less circumstantial than that generated by stress and lack of sleep: the one that is part of our own philosophy of life, the way we have learned to interpret our experiences .

This is what from the clinical psychology of the cognitive-behavioral current is approached through what is known as cognitive restructuring . The idea is to modify the way in which we interpret reality in a conscious or unconscious way.

Usually, people with this kind of bad mood read their lives through a mental scheme that predisposes them to pessimism. This is their habit, just like brushing their teeth every morning or eating toast with jam for breakfast.

For example, your achievements will always be interpreted as the result of luck or the help of others, while your failures will be understood as a consequence of your true limitations. In other words, good will be attributed to external factors, and bad will be attributed to one’s essence, something that (theoretically) cannot be changed. This process is influenced by what is known as the “locus of control”: the way in which we attribute what happens to us to personal or external characteristics .

Changing Habits

This type of cause of moodiness is the most difficult to change, because it requires a commitment to personal change in the medium and long term (although moodiness caused by lack of sleep can also be very warlike if it is the result of a sleep disorder). Normally, this vital pessimism cannot be solved just by reading books , but it is necessary to change one’s habits and ways of doing things.

So, to move from “why am I in a bad mood” to “why do I feel so good if I’m not particularly lucky” the solution is, paradoxically, to move to believe that we are lucky because we really see that there is no reason to think otherwise. Getting rid of artificial worries, feeling motivated and transforming our lives into exciting projects are part of this plan. The other part, of course, is to have the basic needs to live with dignity, which will allow us to have the necessary autonomy to direct our actions towards actions that pursue authentic objectives.

Bibliographic references:

  • Ardila, R. (2004). Psychology in the Future. Madrid: Pirámide.
  • Gadenne, V. (2006). Philosophy of psychology. Spain: Herder.
  • Pink, Daniel H. (2010).The surprising truth about what motivates us (1st ed.). Barcelona: Centro Libros.
  • Ryan, R. M.; Deci, E. L. (2000). “Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being”. American psychologist 55
  • Triglia, Adrián; Regader, Bertrand; García-Allen, Jonathan (2016). Psychologically speaking. Paidós.