It’s your day off and you’ve been looking forward to sleeping in, lounging around a bit in the morning, and eating a decent breakfast that isn’t rushed. These days are few and far between in our hectic lives.
All is good this morning until someone else’s mood shifts yours. It can be a little snippy comment, a look, an over-arched eyebrow, or someone else’s agenda that crush your plans. All of a sudden you’re feeling edgy and resentful that your perfect morning was ruined by someone else’s black cloud.
Don’t let this moment ruin the rest of your day.
Why Emotions are Contagious
Emotional Contagion (EC) is the psychological term for the mood change you’ve just experienced. Humans are hardwired to be social beings, and through interaction we synchronize our emotions with others by consciously and unconsciously identifying and mimicking facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements of others around us. Researchers in this field suggest that this is an automatic or ‘primitive’ process that we all experience to varying degrees. Read more about EC by exploring the links in our reference section below.
Does this mean your mood is doomed for the day? No.
Managing Your Emotions
By understanding that EC exists and that you may be influenced by those around you, you can catch yourself and change your mood. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, we are masters of our own behaviors, and you can choose to be happy, sad, mad, glad, loving, and so on.
The first step is to become aware of what you are feeling when confronted with someone else’s emotional state (whether influenced by facial expression, tone of voice, or physical demeanor, etc.). What do their expressions tell you about their emotions? How are you feeling as a result? What should you do about it?
Let’s face it, we all have friends or family members who seem to have a gloomy disposition. When in their presence, pay attention to how your mood shifts and consciously switch the mood. You may be able to lift their spirits by your reactions – let them mimic your expressions and synchronize with your emotions!
Strategies for Rebooting Your Mood
Don’t like the amateur psychologist approach to mood changing? Then, get physical.
Next time you want to improve your mood or shake off the emotions that others have passed on:
- Physically change your facial expressions, posture, tone of voice, etc. Simply, smiling can make a difference.
- Change the setting by going for a walk, run, swim, bike ride. Interacting with nature can improve your mood, and the exercise can help kick in mood-boosting endorphins.
- Visit with someone who makes you smile or happy. The EC effect will produce results quickly!
- Watch a comedy show or happy movie. Laughter is another sure way to improve your mood.