Have you ever stopped to think about how your mood changes throughout the day?
I’m convinced it has something to do with light and circadian rhythms... that everybody has their own “peak” and “trough” when it comes to mood and energy level.
I notice that I love the way the morning light makes me feel.
My mood peaks around 9-11 AM, and I feel happy, energized, optimistic, and motivated. I’m still pretty happy around mid-day, but around late afternoon my mood is at its lowest. I feel drained, bored, and maybe even a bit gloomy.
This is when I tend to mindlessly down snacks.
My husband is the opposite of me.
He’s useless before 10am... but great at handling the late nights when the baby wakes up!
Why does knowing your “high mood” and “low mood” matter for staying healthy? Having this knowledge means you can schedule your workouts (or important work meetings) at the times you’re at your peak and put in place measures to avoid sabotaging your efforts during your low.
Naturally, what you do will depend a lot on your specific schedule. If you hit your stride around 11pm at night, a Jillian Michaels DVD may be a more practical option than a bike ride on your favorite trail. Since I’m at the office at 10am, a brisk walk around campus is more practical than intense cardio.
How to gain this valuable insight? Try this:
• Spend a week tracking your moods hour by hour. In one column note your hourly happiness/energy level on a scale of 1-5, and an adjacent column note any exercise or eating urges you have – for example, “I feel like going for a run” or “I’m craving a milk-shake.” Try to pick a week that’s typical – not the week your kids start school or the week you’re recovering from that sinus infection.
• Look back after the week is up and notice patterns. Where do you walk on air? Where are your stumbling blocks?
• Schedule your workouts at your peaks, when you’re most likely to have energy.
• Devise strategies for avoiding diet backslides at your lows, thinking about what you crave at these times. If you crave a milk-shake after lunch, try having a chocolate soy milk handy instead. If you head for the Doritos at 10pm, try having a post-dinner snack of pretzels or light popcorn instead. I’m a fan of distracting myself during my low hour, giving myself permission to binge-watch a show on Netflix or read a magazine at the bookstore.
When are your highs and lows?
How do you accommodate this in your exercise or eating routine?
Let me know!