Mood Modelling

January can be seen as a difficult month, in fact we are almost conditioned to think it should be miserable as it’s comes after the festive season, it cold and we are even told that on ‘blue Monday’ we should feel depressed as it’s the most depressing day of the year. Personally, I don’t agree, we are all on our own journeys with up and downs and January can be seen as a positive month. Naturally we might feel like we want to ‘hibernate’, stay indoors and keep warm. In the summer, I do love being outdoors but in the winter, I use the extra time I spend indoors to experiment with recipes – soups, stews and pies are my favourite!

January being the first month of the year, it is also naturally a time when we look back and reflect and maybe reminisce. This may be to do with career, diet, exercise or relationships.

In general reminiscing can be a positive activity that we inherently do whether we mean to or not. Showing reflection on positive memories can elevate a current low mood state and interestingly reflecting on negative events when in a positive mood leads those prior negative events to be viewed more positively.

So, can we actually aim to improve our mood? Scheduling activates that we know make us happy and we know we will look forward to is a great tactic that has been found to be among the most effective treatments for depression. Thinking about spending an evening with a good friend might elevate mood throughout the day.  Also, doing that early morning exercise may have long-term happiness effects as it creates a positive mood throughout the day. Of course, in this cold whether getting out of bed earlier than needed before the commute is arguably a negative mood changer! Give it a try though – it might change the course of your day for the better.

Social media apps are already built to help us remember happy moments, events and photographs. EmotiCal in particular encourages active reflection by evaluating exactly which activities have affected our mood. Is this progress we may wonder – or is it just another way to connect to technology when we should be connecting with humans?

Similar intervention methods for positively boosting moods have been explored in psychology. These studies are great as they show which types of activities influence mood. Active reflection can be a really useful tool and include strategies such as, expressing gratitude, writing about gratitude, focusing on meaningful goals, savouring the moment, replaying happy days, performing acts of kindness, nurturing interpersonal relationships and considering how we can improve ourselves.