Sometimes we wake up on “the wrong side of bed.” We sometimes have days when we do not feel like talking to anyone. And we sometimes do not feel like doing any work. This is normal. We do not always have to smile. We do not always have to be happy. Again, that is normal.
This normalcy does not mean our mood is unimportant. It is important to be honest about, and to understand, how we feel because our mood impacts our overall well-being—energy level, mental health, and physical health. Mood influences interactions with other people, how well we do in the workplace (in all types of jobs and careers), and at home.
Therefore, mood plays a big part in our lives. That is why we need someone to talk to about our feelings—whether we are stressed, angry, sad, excited, or happy. It is unhealthy to always have to keep our thoughts and feelings balled up. This can lead to us feeling silenced, lonely, and frustrated. It can also lead to our emotions and feelings becoming unbalanced and exaggerated. This often occurs when people confuse normal mental-emotional responses with more concerning conditions such as panic attacks, anxiety disorders, and depression.
This is similar to how we often “wear different (figurative) hats”. We take off one hat and put on another hat. Sometimes we wear multiple hats at the same time. The goal is to save face and do what needs to be done even if we do not feel like being bothered. This is how we are able to balance ever changing moods with our responsibilities in the workplace and in our families. This is also how some people are able to interact with other people when they would rather be left alone. Arguably, every person experiences this to various extents. It can vary by demographics and power dynamics. It can feel unfair and exhausting. It is also important to note, from the standpoints of diversity and inclusivity, we often feel pressured to smile and feel happy even when we are simply not in the “mood.” There are many things that perpetuate this, including the human tendency to want everyone to “be happy”—or, at least, pretend to be happy. This can vary by cultures and demographics. For example, girls and women and racial and ethnic power minorities are often expected to always put on a “good face”. This “good face” can be done to create within-group autonomy and unity. It can also be done to benefit across-group relationships—to make boys and men and the racial and ethnic power majority feel power dominant, safe, comfortable, and feel not required to help in any manner (unless people in the power dominant group have the “savior syndrome”).
We need to take care of ourselves in terms of self-awareness, self-peace, and self-help. This is important for all people whether it is taking time to relax in silence, taking on a healthy hobby, or seeing a mental health professional. One example of self-care is on NoireCare.com which helps black/African diaspora women take charge of self-consciousness to reduce the prevalence of self-harming behaviors and reduce diagnosable mental illness and physical illness. It is amazing how taking care of ourselves can improve our overall health and improve our relationships in the workplace and at home. Medical doctors and mental health experts often express how “natural care” intersects with medical care.
Let’s encourage ourselves and each other to talk about our mood, our feelings, and our health with the people we trust. This should include medical experts and mental health experts. We need to be able to vent when necessary so we do not feel isolated and lonely. Being able to get our feelings expressed helps our mood and contributes to mental health and physical health. It improves our personal life and professional life.
Kimya N. Dennis, Ph.D. is a sociologist and criminologist with interdisciplinary research and community outreach in suicide and suicidal self-harm, mental health, and childfree-by-choice. Dr. Dennis’s work reaches diverse audiences with particular emphasis on blacks and the immediate African diaspora. You can reach her through www.kimyandennis.com and firstname.lastname@example.org