Manage your mood to succeed this Lent

Bad moods can lead dieters to abandon their goals and eat something unhealthy in the hope it will improve their spirits, a study has found.

The research, published in the Society’s British Journal of Social Psychology, showed that managing your frame of mind could prevent bad moods from leading to impulsive behaviour.

Participants were asked to finish the sentence ‘If I am in a negative mood, then I will…’ whilst using different strategies, such as breathing deeply, and thinking positive thoughts. Planning in this way helped to reduce the impact of bad moods on risky and impulsive behaviour.

Thomas Webb, a Society member from the University of Sheffield, led the research. He said:

"Translating goals into action is a complex process fraught with potential obstacles. A substantial proportion of people, even those who are highly motivated, fail to attain their goals. In fact, research suggests almost one third of people who make resolutions keep them for less than one week.

“Considerable evidence now suggests that deciding when, where, and how to act in advance can help people to stick to their goals. This type of plan is called an ‘implementation intention’ and specifies both a good opportunity in which to act and a suitable response to that opportunity."