Emotions play an integral role in our everyday lives. Whether it’s our feelings about a personal relationship, our attitude in the workplace, our mental health, or any other sentiments we may have, our emotions tend to fluctuate day-by-day.

Sometimes it can feel like we’re moody teenagers all over again. Heck, I feel moodier now as a twenty-something than I did back in my teen years! It’s difficult to stay level-headed, grounded, and emotionally stable when we’re in the process of making big changes in our lives. From graduating from college/grad school, to living on our own for (probably) the first time, to getting married, to having children, to buying our first homes, there are endless changes we are making during our twenty-something years. For these reasons, and so many more, it’s clear to see why we may have emotional instability during this phase in our lives.

If you’re anything like me and you’ve felt your emotions ping-ponging inside of you, try following these five tips to help adjust your feelings:

  1. Listen to your body.

    When you’re feeling high on life one day and down in the dumps the next, your body is likely telling you something. Listen to the signals you’re feeling. Extreme bouts of happiness, depression, sadness, anger, etc. can mean something deeper is going on. We all experience highs and lows in life, but if these highs and lows are ongoing, it might be worth meeting with a health professional for a diagnosis.

    On the other hand, if you’re certain these ping-pong emotions are occurring because you’re in the midst of a large life change, try to ride out the feelings you’re having to see if they disappear after you’ve adjusted. Sometimes our emotions get out of whack during a brutal break-up, a divorce (yours or your parents’ divorce), the end of a friendship, leaving a job, starting a new career, moving into a new place, getting a pet, etc.

    There are any number of reasons why you might be experiencing ping-pong emotions. As long as you’re listening to your body to better understand what you’re feeling and why, then everything is going to be a-okay.

  2. Try to pinpoint the source of your mood swings.

    I recently discovered that when people talk to me about my health/weight, I tend to respond with a defensive attitude, and I feel angry. It’s strange how fast I can switch from a happy-go-lucky mood to defensiveness when someone I love talks to me about my body.

    You might find that you have similar mood swings for things going on in your life. Why does your mood shift or drop when someone talks to you or when something happens? How long do these mood swings last? What does it take to get you to move beyond the mood swing?

    Answering some (or all) of these questions is bound to help you uncover why you’re feeling what you’re feeling and how you can better stabilize your emotions. Since discovering I get angry and defensive when talking about my health/weight, I’ve tried to understand why I feel this way and how I can move beyond these negative emotions. It’s a journey, no doubt, but recognizing there is a problem is the first step to taking action.

  3. Find an outlet.

    If you’re moody at times (or all the time) you definitely need to find an outlet to practice self-care. Some examples of self-care include writing your thoughts in a journal, exercising to release your pent-up stress, listening to music to release your emotions, or doing something artistic like painting, drawing, or crafting.

    Find a cathartic outlet to calm yourself. For some, running, yoga, stretching, or playing on a competitive sports team help stabilize their emotions. For others, binge-watching their favorite television show or meeting up with friends can help reduce mood swings. Whatever your outlet is, be sure to dedicate this time to yourself to help you find emotional stability.

    Pro-tip: be mindful of self-destructive outlets, such as eating your feelings, shopping to the point of debt, or resorting to alcohol or other substances. An outlet should be a healthy way for you to purge your emotions; it should not, under any circumstances, turn into an addiction or a vice. If you are finding that you are resorting to self-destructive behavior, please contact a health professional. Self-destructive behavior is not self-care. Please visit MentalHealth.gov for national resources, if you are in need.

  4. Confide in a professional.

    I’ve touched on seeking professional help multiple times, but it’s worth saying again. Please confide in a professional if you need help. Therapists and counselors are wonderful resources for clients of all ages, backgrounds, and situations.

    Personally, I have been meeting with a counselor off and on for a while now to discuss relationships and self-care. Therapy should absolutely not be embarrassing. You should not feel guilty, inferior, weak, or slighted for seeking the resources of trained mental health professionals. Therapists and counselors alike are experienced and equipped to give you tips to solve the problems in your life.

    The best part is that you can meet with different health professionals for any of the many things going on in your life. You can meet with people specifically trained in dealing with relationships, health, depression, careers, family, parenting, marriage counseling, etc. There is bound to be a trained professional you can meet with no matter how big or small your personal struggles may be. Please confide in a professional if you need help, no matter what challenge you’re facing in life.

    Pro-tip: check with your health insurance provider to see which professionals are in network. In network resources often only cost you a small co-pay for their services and time.

  5. Make a change.

    At the end of the day, if you’ve tried steps 1-4 in this list and you’re still feeling moody or otherwise emotionally unstable, it may be time for you to consider making a big change in your life. End that toxic relationship that is spiraling you into unhappiness. Quit that job that has raised your blood pressure and made you far too stressed out. Stop listening to everyone’s opinions about your body, weight, looks, etc., and listen to the voice in your own head. Move to a new city (or country) if where you’re living just isn’t cutting it for you.

    Truthfully, we each have the power to effect change in our own lives. No one should lead a moody, emotionally unstable life because s/he is too afraid to make a change.

    Yes, sometimes making a change means cutting ties with loved ones, colleagues, friends, and our communities, but sometimes it’s for the best. Your happiness should be your first priority in life. The rest will come.

Emotions are the feelings inside of us that we often struggle to control. Sometimes we feel weak, tired, frustrated, and confused. Other times we feel angry, hurt, unhappy, and lost. But most times, we should feel happy, optimistic, strong, wonderful, confident, and bold.

If you, like me, often struggle with mood swings or unstable emotions, please review these tips. Come back to this list when you’re feeling down on yourself. Reflect on these suggestions and try to weave them into your own life. I hope they help you cope, as they’ve helped me.

We’re all learning in this stage in life, and perhaps we will always be learning even after our twenty-something years. When we learn, we grow and change into the version of ourselves we so long to become. Give yourself time.

How do you adjust your ping-pong emotions? Share your coping mechanisms in the comments!