Comprehensive Guide: Defining and Understanding Mood
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. What is mood?
  2. How mood differs from emotion
  3. Types of moods
  4. Why mood matters
  5. Factors that influence mood
  6. How to identify your mood
  7. Strategies to improve mood
  8. Mood disorders
  9. When to seek help

Have you ever wondered why one day you're feeling on top of the world and the next, you can't shake off a sense of gloom? It's all about mood. Understanding the definition of mood is key to navigating our daily lives, as it influences our thoughts, behaviors, and interactions. Let's get to know more about it.

What is mood?

Mood, a term we often use loosely, has a deeper meaning than you might think. In the simplest terms, the definition of mood is a temporary state of mind or feeling. It's like the weather of your mind, constantly shifting, sometimes sunny and sometimes rainy.

Here are a few important points to remember when understanding the definition of mood:

  • Mood is temporary: Unlike personality traits which are long-term and stable, moods are fleeting. They can last for a few hours, a day, or sometimes, even a week.
  • Mood is a state, not an emotion: Although often used interchangeably with emotions, moods are not the same. Emotions are intense and usually a response to a specific event, while moods are more diffuse and not necessarily linked to a particular incident.
  • Mood influences behavior: Ever noticed how when you're in a good mood, you're more likely to help others, be creative, or take on a challenging task? That's the power of mood. It can affect how we behave and interact with others.
  • Mood is subjective: Just like beauty, mood is in the eye of the beholder. What puts one person in a good mood might not have the same effect on another. It's a deeply personal experience.

In summary, the definition of mood can be seen as the color of our mental and emotional landscape. It can shape our day, influence our decisions, and color our perceptions.

How mood differs from emotion

When understanding the definition of mood, it's important to distinguish it from emotion. Here's the thing: while they're related, they're not the same. So, how exactly does mood differ from emotion?

  • Duration: Emotions are like fireworks. They're intense but short-lived, usually related to a specific event. Moods, on the other hand, are like the background music in a movie. They last longer and don't necessarily have a clear starting point.
  • Intensity: If you've ever felt a rush of joy at a surprise party or a surge of anger when someone cuts you off in traffic, you've experienced the high intensity of emotions. Moods, though, are less intense and more subtle. They're the quiet hum in the background that you might not even notice until it changes.
  • Conscious Awareness: Emotions demand your attention. They're hard to ignore and often lead to a physical response, like laughing or crying. Moods, though, can sneak under the radar. You might not even realize your mood has shifted until you're already feeling down or upbeat.
  • Cause: Emotions typically have a clear cause. Something happens, you have an emotional reaction. Moods, though, are trickier. They can be influenced by a multitude of factors, from the weather to a lack of sleep, and sometimes, they seem to come out of nowhere.

So, while moods and emotions are both important aspects of our mental landscape, they play different roles. Emotions are the moments that capture our attention, while moods set the overall tone of our day.

Types of moods

Now that we've clarified the definition of mood and how it differs from emotion, let's jump into another question: What types of moods are there? You'll find that moods can be as varied as the colors of a sunset, but for simplicity, we can categorize most moods into a few basic types. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Happy: It's a good day! Everything seems bright, and you feel content, joyful, or excited. This mood can make you feel like you're walking on air.
  • Sad: On these days, everything might seem a bit gray. You may feel down, lonely, or discouraged. It's like carrying a heavy backpack that you just can't seem to shake off.
  • Angry: This mood can feel like a simmering pot about to boil over. You may feel irritable, frustrated, or outright furious. It's like a storm brewing inside you.
  • Anxious: Anxiety can feel like a knot in your stomach that won't unfurl. You might feel nervous, worried, or scared. It's like hearing ominous music but not knowing where it's coming from.
  • Neutral: Not every mood is intense or noticeable. Sometimes, you just feel...okay. Neutral. It's like floating on calm water.

Remember, everyone experiences these moods differently, and that's perfectly normal. The key is to understand your own moods so you can navigate them more effectively.

Why mood matters

So, we've gotten into the definition of mood and explored different types, but why should we care about our moods? Well, moods are like the background music to our lives. They subtly shape our thoughts, perceptions, and actions—often without us even realizing it.

Consider this: have you ever noticed that when you're in a good mood, even mundane tasks seem enjoyable? On the flip side, when you're feeling down, even your favorite activities might lose their charm. That's the power of mood. It can color our entire day, affecting everything from how we interpret a friend's comment to how motivated we feel about pursuing our goals.

Moreover, understanding our moods can help us manage them better. For instance, if you notice you're feeling particularly irritable one day, you might choose to take some time for yourself rather than risking a heated argument with a loved one. Or, if you're feeling anxious about an upcoming test, understanding that your mood is likely impacting your perception can help you take a step back and strategize more calmly.

In short, acknowledging and understanding our moods is the first step toward leading a more balanced, emotionally healthy life. So, the next time you find yourself wondering why you should care about your mood, remember: your mood matters because you matter.

Factors that influence mood

If the definition of mood is a bit like the weather forecast of our inner world, then it's logical to wonder: what influences these psychological weather patterns? As it turns out, our moods can be influenced by a variety of factors—some of which might surprise you!

1. Physical Health: It's no secret that our bodies and minds are interconnected. Physical ailments—whether it's a common cold or a chronic condition—can often cast a shadow over our moods. Ever noticed feeling grumpy or down when you're not feeling well? That's your body's way of saying, "Hey, something's not right here."

2. Sleep: Ah, sleep—the unsung hero of our mood. Lack of quality sleep can leave us feeling irritable, down, or just plain 'blah'. Conversely, a good night's sleep can set the stage for a day of positive mood.

3. Diet: You are what you eat, and that holds true for your mood as well. Certain foods—like those high in sugar or caffeine—can cause mood swings. On the other hand, a balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies, and lean proteins can contribute to stable moods.

4. Stress: Stress is like the arch-nemesis of a good mood. It can sneak up on us, turning a perfectly pleasant day into a whirlwind of negative emotions. Learning effective stress management techniques can be a game-changer for our moods.

5. Social Interactions: As social creatures, our interactions with others can significantly impact our moods. Positive interactions can boost our mood, while negative ones can bring us down.

Understanding these factors can help us make sense of our moods and, ultimately, navigate our emotional landscape with more ease and self-compassion.

How to identify your mood

Knowing the definition of mood is one thing, but being able to identify your own mood is a different ball game. It's like learning about temperature and then trying to figure out if you're hot, cold, or just right. So, how do you do it?

1. Self-Reflection: This is about taking a moment to check in with yourself. You might ask, "How am I feeling right now?" This isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but with practice, it can become a helpful habit for understanding your mood.

2. Body Scan: Our bodies often give us clues about our mood. Are your muscles tense? Is your heart racing? These physical signs can help you identify your mood. It's like your body is trying to send you a message, so it's worth taking the time to listen.

3. Journaling: Writing about your thoughts and feelings can be a powerful tool for identifying your mood. It's like having a conversation with yourself on paper. Plus, you can look back over your entries to spot any patterns or triggers over time.

4. Mood Tracking Apps: Yes, there's an app for that! Mood tracking apps can help you log your feelings throughout the day, giving you a clearer picture of your mood patterns.

Remember, it's okay not to have all the answers. Identifying your mood is a process, not a one-time event. So, be patient with yourself, and remember—this is all part of understanding you a little better.

Strategies to improve mood

Now that you've got a handle on identifying your mood, let's talk about some strategies to improve it. Think of these as your personal toolkit for boosting your mood when it's feeling a little low.

1. Physical Activity: Ever heard of the term "runner’s high"? It’s not just a myth. Physical activity can release endorphins, your body's natural mood lifters. You don't have to run a marathon—just a brisk walk or a dance party in your living room can do the trick!

2. Healthy Eating: The foods you eat can directly affect your mood. For example, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and walnuts, have been shown to help reduce symptoms of depression. So, next time you're feeling low, consider reaching for a mood-boosting snack.

3. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practicing mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment without judgement. It’s like pressing the "pause" button on your life. Studies have shown that mindfulness and meditation can help reduce stress and improve mood.

4. Connect with Others: Humans are social creatures, and feeling connected to others can significantly improve our mood. This could be a chat with a friend, a family dinner, or even joining a club or group with similar interests.

5. Seek Professional Help: If your mood is consistently low and affecting your daily life, it might be time to seek professional help. Therapists and counselors are trained to help you navigate your feelings and provide strategies to improve your mood.

Remember, everyone has off days. But, by trying out these strategies, you can take a proactive role in managing and improving your mood. Because remember, you're not just defined by your mood, you have the power to define it!

Mood disorders

While everyone experiences mood swings from time to time, some people deal with more severe shifts in mood, which can impact their daily life. These are often referred to as mood disorders. Understanding these disorders is an important part of the definition of mood, so let's take a closer look.

1. Major Depressive Disorder: This is more than just feeling sad or blue. It's a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that lasts for at least two weeks. It can impact your sleep, appetite, and overall enjoyment of life.

2. Bipolar Disorder: This disorder is characterized by drastic mood swings from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). These mood swings can last for days, weeks, or even longer.

3. Dysthymia: Also known as persistent depressive disorder, dysthymia is a chronic form of depression that lasts for at least two years. It’s less severe than major depression but can still make daily life challenging.

4. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): This is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. It usually begins and ends at about the same times every year, typically starting in the fall and continuing into the winter months.

If you think you or someone you know might be experiencing a mood disorder, it's important to seek help. Health professionals can provide a diagnosis and treatment options to help manage these conditions.

Remember, having a mood disorder doesn't define you. With the right support and treatment, it's absolutely possible to lead a fulfilling life. Understanding and recognizing mood disorders is a major step in the right direction.

When to seek help

Knowing when to seek help for your mood can sometimes be a tricky call. We all have off days, but how do you know when it's more than just a bad day? Let's talk about some signs that might indicate it's time to seek professional help for your mood.

1. Your mood is impacting your daily life: If you find that your mood is interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, or enjoy life, it could be a sign that you need to seek help. It's not normal for your mood to constantly get in the way of living your life.

2. You're struggling to cope with a loss or change: Life transitions, like losing a loved one or going through a divorce, can be tough and often impact our mood. If you're finding it hard to cope, it might be time to reach out.

3. You're using substances to cope: If you're turning to alcohol, drugs, or other substances to manage your mood, it's a strong sign that you could benefit from professional help.

4. You're experiencing suicidal thoughts: This is a serious sign that you need immediate help. Reach out to a mental health professional or trusted person in your life immediately if you're having thoughts of harming yourself.

Remember, it's okay to ask for help. In fact, it's a sign of strength. If you're unsure, it's always better to err on the side of caution and reach out to a mental health professional. They can provide you with resources, support, and a path forward. So don't wait — take care of your mood, because your mood takes care of you.

If you're eager to dive deeper into the topic of mood in creative projects, don't miss Tiffany Mumford's workshop, 'Getting To Know The Industry.' In this workshop, Tiffany will help you understand the role of mood in various industries and how to effectively incorporate it into your work. Expand your knowledge and enhance your creative skills with this insightful workshop.