Seven Ways to Navigate Emotional Turbulence

We can't prevent our moods from changing. We can, however, learn how to find stable ground to notice and shift our moods more consciously.

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No matter how hard we try, we can’t prevent our moods from changing. Fluctuating emotions are a part of being human. While it may be difficult to understand what causes mood shifts, we can choose to meet them with openness and awareness. In this video from The School of Life, philosopher Alain de Botton explains seven ways to ride the constant change of your moods.

How to Navigate Emotional Turbulence

1. Accept your vulnerability

Acknowledge how vulnerable you and your moods are to seemingly small things, like snide remarks or lousy weather. Sensitivity is no cause for shame. Even though your skin may not be as thick as you would like it to be, you shouldn’t feel less than because of your emotions.

2. Edit your social life

Friends that impact your well-being can definitely affect your moods. It’s important to accept that you may have some relationships that are more difficult than others. Consider distancing yourself from social situations that cause you stress right now.

3. Cultivate relationships that encourage vulnerability

Often the best cure for a bad mood is surrounding yourself with people that offer support. Turn to friends and family that foster your sense of belonging. The right person will be understanding of your flaws—and may even offer you a glimpse at theirs.

4. Honor your body

Whether we’d like to admit it or not, how long we’ve slept, how much water we’ve drank, and how much we’ve eaten today all play a role in our moods. On some level, everything that goes through your mind is related to what is going on in your body. Take special care of your basic physical needs, and don’t hesitate to check in with yourself as often as possible.

5. Distance yourself from an unpleasant mood

The sooner we realize that we don’t have total control over our moods, the easier it will be to accept their ebb and flow. Each feeling is a passing state of mind—and it is ultimately your choice to acknowledge a mood either as truth that matches your reality, or as a feeling that will pass. Whatever you decide, just know that your current mood does not define you.

6. Be kind to yourself

Now more than ever, self-compassion is key. Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions have come up throughout the day. Gently remind yourself that you have a right to be wherever you are today, and that your reactions are not unforgivable—they’re simply human.

7. Remember it will pass

How you’re feeling right now—from the highest happiness, to the lowest despair—is never permanent. Even though we don’t usually have the ability to shift a mood on command, we can notice it and realize that it won’t last forever. Instead of striving to escape your current mood, you can observe those emotions with kindness and trust that it will shift again, as it always does.

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