Moodscope's blog



Playing the "Jittery" Card. Friday September 13, 2013

I wanted to do a series that embraced all 20 cards and here's the first of twenty.

Today, it's the turn of the 'Jittery' card, which Moodscope defines as, 'feeling agitated and edgy'.

What can we do if we play a 2 or 3 on the Jittery Card? Feeling agitated and edgy is impossible without 'jittery chemicals' flowing through our bloodstream. In response to stress, we release hormones that allow our agitated and jittery state to be translated into rapid action should the perceived danger turn out to be a real threat. This gives us an 'edge' – the positive aspect of being 'edgy'.

It doesn't feel nice, though, does it? And, in most situations, it's an unhelpful reaction to a perception of danger. This perception can just be our imagination. Our body doesn't care, it will react regardless of whether the threat is real or imagined.

So what can we do to move on from an unhelpful jittery state? First thing to realise is that you've got at least 40 minutes before your body will calm down. It takes a while for the hormones to work their way out of your system. So, be gentle and patient with yourself.

Secondly, drink some more water. The hormone system is water-dependent. Drinking water helps flush the system! Drinking coffee, tea, or alcohol is going to add more stimulants to the already complex chemical cocktail coursing through your veins.

Thirdly, shift your focus. Ask yourself, "How specifically am I 'safe' today?" "What would enhance a sense of calm in my life today?" For me, I have three easy paths to peace: listening to soothing music, having a shower, and walking in Nature.

If you take such positive action, and give yourself 40 minutes to sense the change, you should be able to adjust your score on the "Jittery" scale!

A Moodscope User.

We are asking all Moodscope members to contribute any ideas, coping strategies, advice or tips you may have that you think would help others feel less jittery. We would like to use them in the future on the Moodscope web site. Please post your thoughts on our Blogspot:

Permalink  |  Blog Home


PWD Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 6:18am

A very good post all good tips which i try to use, I also find when in the shower turn it to freezing cold for a few moments then back to hot a couple of times also helps its seems to shock you out of it, Also playing with the dog and watching comedy works for me. Looking forward to the other 19


Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 7:03am

Excellent. Thank you.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 8:17am

The hormone released is adrenaline, isn't it? The famous flight or fight hormone. I let it do what it's meant to do and "fly" by going for a run or to the gym. It's released when we are feeling threatened and these days it's not a sabre toothed tiger but usually antoher person who has caused this. After the initial reaction of fear there can often lurk anger for me. "How dare this person make me feel unsafe" So I suppose a punching bag could come in handy. I also find that if I haven't eaten, forcing something down usually helps to ground me.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 8:31am

When my emotions take over and I become over-stressed I find it helpful to intellectualise my situation. I tell myself that I've felt like this before and coped, that I may feel my situation is awful/frightening/threatening but that other people have encountered far worse and dealt with it, that I will deal with whatever is causing the stress, that, from experience, it won't last forever. I suppose I'm being my own mentor, my parent, friend or adviser. It helps me feel stronger and my stress levels decrease when I rationise what's causing them.

The Entertrainer Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 8:39am

Excellent tips folks... I have to admit "You've Been Framed" - the UK comedy programme, usually shifts my state of mind! (Especially the cute animal ones.) I'm off to play with the shower-shock idea later today! Yes, Adrenaline is the big one and noradrenaline... heart-pounding, jittery chemicals all provoking a fight/flight/freeze reaction. The goal for me is to change my 'reaction' into a chosen 'response' before Captain Jitters kicks in. If I don't make it in time, at least I have recovery strategies as mentioned by others too.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 8:48am

As a preventitive measure, I find that drinking too much coffee easily makes me jittery without ANY external influence (but I feel the same"jitteriness") so I don't have more than one or two cups a day.

Also, taking some slow, deep breaths can help in the moment.

Intrigued by the shower idea!

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 9:03am

Nature can calm me down, also Mindfulness, I love Padraig O'Morain's thoughts on mindfulness and his book Light Mind. Breathe and concentrate on your breathing and/or listen to the sounds around you rather than the thoughts in your head.

Julia Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 9:11am

I know that deep breathing is supposed to help; it is a panacea for so many anxiety states. Whole books have been written about how to breathe deeply!
However am I the only one who actually finds my breathing gets worse if I try to breath deeply and concentrate on my breaths, think about it too much or at all? I do get breathless and I suppose in this state I might say I am jittery, but the more I focus on my short uncomfortable breaths, the more panicky I become; the more I try to breathe from my abdomen or diaphram or wherever I am being urged to breathe from, the shorter my breaths become.
The best advice I had was in a relaxation tape which said ignore your breathing, the body knows how to breathe and will do it naturally and effectively for you without your help. The more I am thinking about this wonderful man who produced the tape (not Paul Mckenna) , the more I remember! Yes! It also said that when you are sitting or resting, the body doesn't need to breathe deeply, small breaths are all it needs.
So even when I feel unpleasantly breathless, I don't try to force my body, lungs, diaphram stomach, chest into breathing any differently, I don't think of balloons in my stomach or any such thing, I just let it pass. And it does.
I like Lex's idea that 40 minutes is needed for the body to get rid of the jittery hormones.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 9:18am

A walk in beautiful scenery alwys does it for me

Denisthemenace Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 9:49am

Good post and very helpful comments. Like Julia, I find concentrating on my breathing makes me more aware of the anxiety - I find relaxation techniques and Mindfulness only work for me when I'm feeling relatively ok! But doing something distracting or really absorbing helps me - like a bit of digging in the garden or the Times Jumbo crossword.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 9:58am

As a couple of the others have said, my most effective and quick way of getting rid of those horrible jittery feelings are to use the adrenaline for its intended purpose. Ideally, I go outside and simply run as fast as I can for a couple of minutes.

Of course this isn't always possible. There's been a number of times when I've made a bolt for the loos at work and spent a few minutes jumping up and down. Thankfully I've never been discovered so far.

Thanks for a really good post this morning. I'm looking forward to the next 19 and hope they are just as useful.

Julia Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 11:39am

Yes D the M and added bonus... digging in the garden or a distracting activity as you suggest will force your breathing to regulate without any stressful effort to deep breathe! It's nice you agree with me.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 11:42am

This is so helpful, especially the knowledge that it takes 40 minutes for those hormones to calm down. I often wake up jittery and find equal breathing and a bath with lavender oil helps but it is so hard to function when you feel this way and your body is responding accordingly ( shaking etc). I find 'carrying on regardless' is the only way, the best distraction of all. To quote Winston Churchill "when you are going through he'll....keep going".
Great to have some practical advice and share coping strategies, well done moodscope

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 12:24pm

3 or more deep breaths using the diaphragm and abdomen, jittery often tightens the muscles around the neck & shoulders so roll the shoulders back a couple of times. It will often also show in the muscles of the face & jaw so deliberatly relax the jaw.

Yoga helps me as does going for a walk for preference in a natural environment.

The other hormone is Cortisol which has all sorts of negative effects if the level remains high for a long time.

Thanks Moodscope and others on the information about the 40 minutes plus drinking water.

phrixuscoyote Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 12:54pm

Thanks for this article and the tips! The series is a great idea and I'm really looking forward to the rest of it. :)

Julia Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 12:59pm

Yes I agree with this. Every word. I tend to intellectualise and rationalise too. It helps.

The Entertrainer Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 1:01pm

Oooo, this is working, isn't it? Thank you for all your strategies folks. I love moodscope, and now I could see how this could provoke and create a resource to augment the cards... a real 'how to' set of recommendations.

I do wonder if the warmth of the bath and shower (haven't tried the cold shock yet) actually helps my breathing relax without trying. Perhaps the humidity helps breathing? That would make sense.

I'm also a massive fan of entrainment - the phenomenon where the body (especially the breathing and heart-beat) synchronises to an external rhythm. Listening to recordings of a gentle ocean is guaranteed to affect my breathing. One of the cats here has a magnificent purr, and I find that relaxes me too. Of course, there's evidence that actually stroking the cat helps too... he certainly approves!

Julia Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 1:24pm

Very interesting Lex! Prince William listens to the sounds of animals in the African jungle on his iPod apparently as a stress reducer. I think those sounds may help me not as a nice memory as I've never been to Africa but the sounds in my mind conjure up a haunting place which would take me away from any troubling jittery thoughts. Nice sounds I do remember from being there are Thai voices selling street food in Bangkok and the smell of the warm air when I got off the plane at BKK airport.

randomangel Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 1:53pm

This is so, so helpful! Thank you Moodscope for being there and listening, helping and giving us a forum to share such great everyday tips.
I have just restarted Yoga after suffering from diabolical tension with headaches, giddiness and lack of balance. It does really help and the breathing is the powerhouse after all. I do agree with Julia that overfocus on the breath can be counterproductive but combined with a movement of the body it does seem to settle my body increasingly well.
Thank you all

Lostinspace Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 2:12pm

Thank you very much, how interesting as I never knew about the 40 minutes. I agree with Julia about breathing as it only makes me feel more panicky. Sometimes I try to separate it from my mind and treat it as physical, so I know if I carry on I will be able to live with whatever has upset me. I suppose the day I can't live with it, it's up to the roof and off! Levity helps me too. Next time I am going to remember the water trick, I use that when I am dieting and feel sort of shaky/horrible . I mention this because I see that the two sensations are similar although they have different causes.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 2:50pm

Very helpful - and yes, the 40 mins is a revelation, will help in future to know that. When possible I find gardening and walking grounding. Tick lists are good to help me focus - the less I feel I am achieving during a day the more jittery I can get - ticks even for getting dressed helps deal with that and helps me focus on one thing at a time and see that I am functioning, if a little less easily than at other times :-)

Bee Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 3:07pm

On a slight tangent-recently things have been going quite well for me and I have nothing major to get jittery about but I have been feeling anxious about having nothing to feel anxious about. Does this happen to anyone else?

Mair Alight Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 4:00pm

reading inspiring words, listening to music that uplifts, calms, inspires me, walking, calling a friend, practicing calligraphy, drawing...

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 4:40pm


Julia Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 4:41pm

Yes this happens to me too. It also happens to a friend of mine and we try to figure out what on earth could be causing the anxiety. If we cannot pinpoint anything that might be happening even far into the future (an anticipated stressful event), has happened in the past (causing vestiges of anxiety) or might be happening (subconsciously) now in the present, the only thing we can think of is hormones which I think can affect any age up to 100. We are usually stumped.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 4:52pm

LOL! Yes. I think because we get so absorbed in being anxious or depressed, we don't trust our feelings when we are feeling good, or we think that if we allow ourselves to feel good, the bad feelings will sneak up on us, grab us and bring us back down if we are not "on guard".

Julia Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 5:09pm

Interesting.I must tell my friend straightaway as this could be the answer. I hadn't thought of this! Great thinking. Thank you Anon.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 7:12pm

Wow! Loads of comments on this one Lex. Very useful piece and like everyone else I am looking forward to the other nineteen. For me, I only scored jittery if I'm on a high with the bi-polar. It's helpful for me to do EFT (Tapping) to calm down. It's a great early warning sign for me. If the high gets controlled, the subsequent low is much more shallow and easier to cope with. Great to know about the chemicals and the 40 minutes. Thank you.

Scott Lee Williams Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 7:15pm

Some have mentioned difficulty with deep breathing as a route to calmness. I would recommend what some call the "Four Fold Breath" which involves

- breathing in for a count of four, until the lungs are full
- holding the breath for a count of four
- breathing out for a count of four
- holding the lungs empty for a count of four

Repeat until calm. Or until dizzy. Or until.

This can often quell the panicky, short breaths of an anxiety attack. In addition, it requires just enough concentration to take the mind off of whatever it is that's getting you anxious. Plus, it can be annoying enough to oneself that one is taken out of the panic and into being able to laugh at oneself.

Additionally, this type of breathing works when one is calm, as well, and is good for when one would like to fall asleep.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 8:03pm

Thanks eveyone for the practical moodscope message today and the subsequent blog posts.

Some recommend self-soothing techniques like placing one hand over your chest/heart area while the other hand rests on the upper abdomen just below the ribs - it works best when lying down - I find this very helpful when combined with breathe awareness and then gentle control of the breathing rate. This technique also helps me fall asleep when its been a stress-bound day.

Lyn B.B. Fri, Sep 13th 2013 @ 10:42pm

Hi, My first response to Moodscope and I guess I try to curb my 'jittery' days by walking with the dogs and trying to feel peaceful. Had a beautiful walk in the fields and woods the other morning and wrote this on my return home and it helped to write. I called it...Morning.

Diamond cobwebs sparkle in the sunlight and from the far distance
the call of a wood pigeon drifts through the air.
It is so quiet….just the sounds of the breeze rustling the leaves
and flitting small birds feasting on the hedge blackberries.
I sit and try to absorb the gentleness and peace through my skin
And my heart and soul…it is long overdue.

Anonymous Sat, Sep 14th 2013 @ 4:32am

What helps me is to breathe, slowly and maybe 10 times very consciously, then I think of a "happy moment" and that diverts me from my jitteriness and doing an activity that calms me, like drawing, doing a puzzle or reading a relaxing book (romance stories are my favorite).

The Entertrainer Sat, Sep 14th 2013 @ 9:45am

Wonderful description... it transported me to a place of shared experience. I like the idea of absorbing the gentleness and peace through ones skin - instead of only through the senses.
Thank you for sharing.

Diana Lew Mon, Sep 16th 2013 @ 1:32am

I doodle & draw while watching old black & white movies from the 30s & 40s.

Anne Szadorska Tue, Sep 17th 2013 @ 9:42pm

I'm still mastering my 'jittery card' but I have found that just expressing what's going through my head to someone I trust works wonders. Its been hard learning who I can count on but worth it!

You must login to leave a comment.

What is Moodscope?

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. If you’d like to receive these daily posts by email, just sign up to Moodscope now, completely free of charge.

Moodscope is an innovative way for people to treat their own low mood problems using an engaging online tool. Anyone in the world can accurately assess and track daily mood scores over a period of time. We have proved that the very act of measuring, tracking and sharing mood can actually lift it. Join now.

Blog Archive


Posts and comments on the Moodscope blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Moodscope makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any of the links.

Moodscope will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

We exist to help people to positively manage their moods. You can contribute by taking the test, sharing your experience on the blog or contributing funds so we can keep it free for all who need it.

Moodscope® is © Moodscope Ltd 2018. Developed from scales which are © 1988 American Psychological Association. Cannot be reproduced without express written permission of APA.