Can Exercise Stabilize Mood Swings?
There are a lot of different causes of mood swings. Even though the first idea that may have come to your mind is a mental condition called bipolar disorder, chronic physical conditions and injuries can cause them, too. Dementia, concussions, stroke, Parkinson’s and other neurological problems can cause them. So can diabetes, MS, sleep disorders and thyroid disease. Doctors often prescribe mood stabilizers. Some of them are prescription medication, while others are natural mood stabilizers. Exercise is one of the natural stabilizers, which is often used before other types of medications.
Exercise has been used to help anxiety and depression.
When you’re under stress, the body creates hormones that tells the body to prepare to fight or run. When you exercise, you burn off those hormones, just as you would running or fighting, and get your body back to normal. The body also creates new hormones that make you feel good, like endorphins and dopamine. They cause the body temperature to rise and make it relax and reduce pain. They also lift your spirits and help stabilize your mood.
Severe mood swings require more help than just exercise.
While some mood swings can be managed with mood stabilizers like exercise, yoga, adaptogens, omega-3 supplements, a healthy diet and mindfulness or meditation, some are far more intense and require help from a doctor and may need medication, psychotherapy or counseling. Mental health specialists have been using exercise as adjunct therapy that’s as effective as many prescriptions, but the only side effect is a healthier body.
You can control mild mood swings on your own by making simple changes.
Mild mood swings, those occasional hissy fits that seem to occur over minor things, can be controlled by identifying what triggers them. It could be something in your lifestyle causes it, such as too much stress, lack of morning coffee or even poor sleep. You can make a big difference in limiting them by including exercise in your daily life, eating healthy, getting adequate, quality sleep, learning ways to cope with stress and eliminating abuse of substances that can add to the mood swings.
- Have you ever paced when you were in a stressful situation, like waiting for the results of a loved one’s surgery? That comes naturally as a way to reduce stress and help prevent mood swings and outbursts.
- If you can’t participate in a traditional program of exercise due to physical limitations, do what you can. If you can walk, take walks. If you are wheelchair bound, do seated yoga or tai chi. Moving more helps.
- One study compared two groups of women with anxiety and depression. One group participated in yoga classes on a regular basis and the other didn’t. The group taking yoga showed marked improvement, which may have come from the combination of mindfulness and exercise.
- Always seek out the help of your healthcare professional if you have mood swings, if for no other reason, to eliminate the potential of underlying health conditions.