Whether we realize it or not, the content we consume dictates a lot of what we think and how we feel on a daily basis.
Recently, I realized that every night I was going to bed feeling a little disheartened and lost. It wasn’t a huge, overwhelming feeling, but it was there nagging night after night. Finally, I put two and two together and realized: this is related to the TV show I’ve been watching.
Every time I watch an episode of this around bedtime, I end up slightly sad. So, I cut the show out of my life for a bit, resolving to watch it once a week if anything, and earlier in the day. And hey, I feel a lot better at night now. It was an easy fix, but hard to commit to as the show was engaging, and I had a little bit of a habit formed. That led me to ponder the following questions.
How do we feed our minds? What do we allow to influence us?
Whether we realize it or not, the content we consume dictates a lot of what we think and how we feel on a daily basis. Here are some questions to guide you to discover how you might be affected every day, and what you might need to change to improve your mood.
What do you listen to?
Make a list of everything you listen to in a day, including podcasts, music, books on tape, videos, the radio, etc.
How does what you listen to make you feel? Do you have a playlist that matches your mood when you’re sad? Do you listen to music to get pumped up? Do the videos you watch make you angry? Pick the main things you listen to, and write down how they make you feel. Use words like: happy, frustrated, engaged, angry, dissatisfied, peaceful, etc.
Now, look at what you wrote down and go deeper. What kinds of lyrics are you listening to in your music? Are they mostly lyrics about love? Political unrest? How do the people on the podcasts that you listen to converse? Are they always complaining about something, or do they include positive language that builds up whoever they are talking to as well as you, the listener?
Here are some ideas of things to listen to that don’t stir up crazy emotions.
Music: If you like music but want to see if lyrics are affecting you, try listening to some instrumental music for a bit. Check out movie soundtracks, classical themes or jazz for a couple of weeks while taking a break from your regular music.
Podcasts/News: Try taking a break from the news. If you listen to podcasts to educate yourself on certain topics, consider whether those podcasts are still helpful to you, or if it is time to take a break or move on. Try a Catholic podcast to teach you about the faith if you haven’t before.
What do you watch?
Jot down the things you watch on a typical day or weekend … videos, television shows, movies, Instagram stories, etc.
How does what you watch make you feel?
And then, going deeper: How do the things you watch affect your expectations of the people around you? If you watch a lot of romantic comedies and Instagram highlight reels about weddings, might that be affecting your view of what love looks like? Are the things you’re watching making you dissatisfied with your current love life–whether you are married or single?
Here are some ideas about where to find wholesome movies or television shows.
If you want to know how much violence, sex or language is in a movie, try the sites Kids-In-Mind or the “Parent’s Guide” sections on IMDB. An overload of violence or sex in a movie can definitely affect your mood. Try watching some documentaries or kids’ movies to change up your normal show or movie routine.
What do you read?
Now, how about jotting down what you read … blogs, books, magazines, web sites, etc.
How does what you read make you feel? Consider: does this blog make me angry consistently whenever I read it? Does this magazine make me preoccupied with things I don’t have? Lots of blog tutorials on sewing might help me learn skills I want, but they might at the same time convince me that I need lots of sewing accessories and paraphernalia in order to live a happy sewing life.
Try taking a break from the written content that makes you crazy, and switching genres or just cutting out extra reading all together for a time.
Pay attention to time of day
Part of how content affects our mood is the timing of when we listen, watch and read. Do you consume content immediately when you wake up and right before you fall asleep? It might be good to give your eyes and mind a break in the early morning and late evening. Do you consume content that makes you up in arms or frustrated right before you meet up with friends or family? It might be better to listen to the news at a later time when you have space to decompress and process it, for example.
So here’s to better content habits to help us live and love in better moods!