Managing mood swings are much like preparing for canoe trips. Balance, safety, planning, experience, partnership, and close calls are all part of the adventure.
After years of trial and error, my husband and I now have a knack for canoeing. Recently while canoeing a 5-hour track on Georgia’s cold and adventurous Taccoa River, our traveling kayak companion said to us, “I thought for sure you two would tip over going through those rapids we just crossed. Those were rough. You did great! I’m impressed.”
Although delighted to get such a compliment, neither of us paid attention to our ability that day. Then I realized we were well-synchronized. We did make it through several rough rapids in our red 17 ft. Mohawk. We stayed balanced through several close calls on that winding river.
Managing mood swings are like the necessary skills needed to navigate, endure, and have fun through the unpredictable turns of life.
Here are five ways to live life well through mood swings: balance, energy, navigation, partnership and safety.
- The most important balance for mood swings is regular and proper amount of sleep. Just as you need to sit low in a canoe, you need to be intentional about your sleep cycles. Getting to bed at the same time each night and getting up consistently each morning is the most basic way to stay balanced through even the most unpredictable circumstances of life. Beware of increased energy late at night spent on projects and creativity that sets you up for tipping over. Ignoring your body’s need for sleep is a sure way to disaster and loss when the rapids of life could otherwise be safe adventures.
- Eating healthy and exercising every day are obvious tasks we all know to do. For those with either severe or mild mood swings, it’s absolutely vital. I compare this with the very basics of rowing in a canoe. It’s impossible to navigate the river without oars, or the physical energy to paddle. Don’t neglect the obvious!
- Take time to reflect, pray, and meditate daily. It’s amazing how even 5-10 minutes a day can quiet your mind and help you determine where you really want to go and how to get there. Before every canoe trip, we look at maps to see how long the river is, where the rapids are the most challenging, and which route to row through. Being aware of your own life, relationships, and core values helps you know and live truthfully.
- It generally takes two to canoe well: one to steer from the back, and both to paddle and move forward. Weight is distributed evenly with at least two. We are designed for connection and partnership with others. Having cooperative and affirming friendships in life while avoiding isolation makes all the difference.
- Nobody LIKES wearing life jackets, yet it’s necessary. Proper medication, therapy, and group work for those who struggle with mood swings is like the protection of a life vest.
What’s made our canoe adventures successful? We stay balanced. We have energy. We take time to plan our route. We partner. We wear our life-jackets. We’ve established a routine for safety and adventure! We HAVE FUN!
Being intentional about assessing your own life, your relationships, and your core values will help you budget your energy and navigate a course far more rewarding than drifting with the current. Taking time to prepare for the rapids of life make the journey safe and adventurous, and FUN. Check out the Mindful Mood Group.