Part of being mature is being able to communicate with others effectively. You should be able to clearly and effectively communicate how you feel and what you are thinking. There may be times when you can’t pinpoint how you feel. You could experience a shift in how you feel. The key is to be able to identify that a shift has occurred and why the shift has occurred. Did something trigger the shift? Did you hear something? Did someone say something? The shift doesn’t have to be major deep psychological reason. It could simply be that you are tired or hungry.
When you discover there has been a shift in your attitude and energy, tell yourself to HALT. HALT is an easy to remember acronym to help you assess your mood and identify what is going on with you internally.
When your mood begins to shift, be quick to identify it and label it. Ask yourself “am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?”.
There are easy fixes for being hungry and tired. Try to keep snacks with you at all times. Store something in glove compartment, in your backpack, in your room. Having something available will prove to beneficial to your mood when you are hungry. When you become hungry and do not eat you can become irritable. Irritability can cause you to say things you don’t mean, lash out, and create hostile exchanges with those around you. Similar effects occur when you are tired. A simple power nap could do wonders for your mood. Taking a few minutes to recharge your battery and lift your spirits will also help your mood stabilize and remain consistent.
Anger and loneliness are a little harder to resolve and may take more time to resolve. When anger is the answer to your mood changing, you have to ask yourself what happened (or didn’t) or what was said (or wasn’t) that caused you to experience a change in your mood. The quicker you can identify the cause the quicker you can resolve and get back to normal. If someone is the culprit, confront the issue head on. Let the person know that you are angry, why you are angry, and what you would like to see happen to resolve the issue. You cannot expect that the person will react the why you would like, agree with how you feel, or resolve the issue the way you would. The point of confronting the issue is so you can feel better about getting it out in the open. Once you have spoken your mind on the issue, let it go and consider the issue resolved. If the anger is not towards a person, identify what the issue is and how you can resolve it. If you cannot resolve recruit help to assist you with solving. If you solve the problem, great! If you are not able to resolve the source of the anger, accept that you may not be able to resolve the issue and/or give it time to resolve on its own.
Loneliness is probably the hardest to identify. Being in a new place, without friends, and away from family could make college a very lonely place. You may not readily identify that you are lonely. You may have feelings that you are not able to easily see and put a label on. Once you do identify you are feeling lonely. Try to engage with others around you; see what your roommate is up to, see if there are any events happening on campus, or call a friend or family member. When feeling lonely you want to avoid interacting with the “wrong” type of company. You don’t want to hang around those that will cause you to engage in behaviors you would not normally engage in or those that will take advantage of your lonely state. If the loneliness persists, consider using on-campus resources to help you identify the sources of your loneliness and healthy ways to cope with the loneliness.
When you feel a shift in your mood simply say HALT! Identifying how you feel and what caused you to feel that way is a big part of maturation. Keep snacks readily available, address your source of anger, find things to do and people to engage with you, or take nap. HALT will help you stay consistent in your mood.