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How Lighting Can Affect Mood

Mood changer #2: Lighting 

As mentioned, fluorescent lighting can make bright kids more agitated. Natural or indirect lighting such as lamps is best. Try not to have bright kids studying under florescent lighting. Children in classrooms lit with full-spectrum rather than fluorescent lights have fewer missed school days. Fluorescent light raises cortisol levels in the bloodstream and can suppress the immune system.

How Lighting Can Affect Mood

Getting outside more is also important for mood. Most of the winter blues as well as many winter illnesses can be explained by not being outside enough. Open-air activity also helps bright kids to burn up some excess energy.

A common measure of light intensity is the "lux." Natural sunlight ranges from 2,000 lux on a cloudy day to 100,000 lux on a sunny day. If you are mostly indoors, you will only get about 100 lux. Some bright kids get irritable and sad when they are not exposed to enough sunlight. A 150- to 200-watt globe equals 2,500 lux, and there is evidence that using a bright light in the day improves mood. Of course, even better than using a light is to get outdoors.

Lowering the level of lighting in your home a few hours before sleep time makes it easier for everyone to get a sound night's sleep, which makes them less vulnerable to stress and less irritable.

Mood changer #3: Diet
Food is a very powerful drug. You know that! That's why we like to go to fancy restaurants and eat fine foods and drink fine wines.

One of the fastest ways to change anyone's mood is to feed and water them. Just having a glass of water lowers the amount of cortisol. If there is nothing else that you can do with a stressed, bright kid, offer her a drink of water. If she won't have one, have one yourself. You'll need it.

Julia Ross, in her fascinating book The Mood Cure, writes about the importance of increasing proteins and lessening carbohydrates at breakfast time. Having this type of breakfast increases concentration and memory. A diet that is rich in an amino acid called tryptophan also works to prevent depression; tryptophan is found in many foods, such as turkey, lean beef, and almonds. These foods give you a higher tryptophan level in your bloodstream. Tryptophan synthesizes in the body into serotonin. You can give most bright kids a natural antidepressant effect by putting them on this type of diet.

This will be particularly effective if you can at the same time lessen the amounts of caffeine and artificially sweetened foods and drinks they have.

Mood changer #4: Movement 

The more I work with bright kids, the more I become convinced that the body has memories. It seems that particular postures, stances or positions bring with them specific memories. A bright kid with a slumped posture might access memories of tiredness or sadness more easily, while one with a grimacing face might recall anger or fear.
Part of changing the mood is to move your child - not by pushing and shoving, but by saying something like, "I can see you are upset. I've got to go to the kitchen - walk with me and tell me what's happening." By moving him, you are shifting the pattern.

Many bright kids are fairly active and not so interested in deep discussions about feelings. Walking side by side with them and hearing about how things are for them won't resolve whatever the problem is, but it will make it more solvable.

Mood changer #5: Music 

Millions of teenagers are not wrong. Music changes your mood and your brain functioning.
Music is a whole-brain activity - it has a powerful influence over emotion, learning, and analysis. Some studies have related Mozart's music to increased intelligence levels: students who listened to Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D major for 10 minutes raised their test scores in abstract and spatial reasoning. Pachabel's Canon, and baroque music in general, have also been identified as being associated with relaxation and enhanced performance.

Listening to music may also alter brain organization: four-years-olds who listened to one hour of classical music each day had EEG (electroencephalogram) results that suggested more brain coherence. They also spent more time in an alpha state-that is, calm, relaxed, and alert.

Learning to play a musical instrument is also beneficial. For example, playing the piano increases spatial awareness and the ability to think ahead. Learning music also increases listening and memory skills.

Try to match kids to instruments they are likely to succeed at. For example, the clarinet, piano, and advanced guitar require fine motor skills, whereas the trumpet, drums, and percussion require gross motor skills. Playing a musical instrument can be a terrific way of expressing the emotions that bright kids sometimes find difficult to put into words. The repetitive movements involved in playing some instruments may also raise dopamine levels.

Having music playing around the house when bright kids are breakfasting or when they come home from school indicates to them that they are in a different place (i.e., not at school) and can help them to change mood. To find out more, you can check out How Lighting Can Affect Mood.