You know the feeling well. Come on, don’t deny it.
The mounting frustration, the sense that nothing works as it should, everything is irritating and time-consuming. You have no patience, you feel knotted up inside and there’s a slowly enveloping cloud of blackness developing over your head like your own little personal black storm.
Yes, you’re in a bad mood and there’s nothing you can do about it. The day’s ruined and your life’s just a bit crap and why oh why does nobody understand the terrible burdens you, and only you are suffering?!
You rattle on in a cantankerous fury, muttering on under your breath and bemoaning your lot in life.
We all get into a bad mood from time to time and it can be, at best, just inconvenient and annoying. However, at worst it can ruin your day, put a strain on your relationships and, in the longer term, affect your self-esteem and well-being.
When we are in a mood it’s hard to see a way out, difficult to see the wood for the trees and it can become all enveloping and a self-perpetuating cycle of irritation and fury.
Here are nine tips on how to get out of a bad mood:
1. Admit It and Get It Out of Your Head
The first stage is to admit to yourself, and to others, that you are actually in a bad mood. How often has someone gently pointed out to you (possibly out of annoying concern!) that you seem to be in a bad mood only for you to bark back, through a clenched smile and gritted teeth “No, I’m fine!”?
Our default stance often seems to be one of self-martyrdom and we try to just get on and ignore our mood hoping it will go away and no one will notice. It takes quite a lot of willpower to be objective about yourself in this sort of situation. It’s hard to bypass this default pathway and to literally say to yourself “Right, you’re in a really bad mood. Let’s get this sorted out now!” However, if you can do this you are at least half way to quickly getting your mood back on track.
Another strategy that will help at this point but will scream against every fiber of your natural instinct is to reply to your concerned friend “Yes, I’m in a really bad mood. In fact, I’m really annoying myself never mind you – I’m sorry!” I can pretty much guarantee that, if you pull that one off you will gain control of your mood pretty quickly!
If the opportunity doesn’t occur, you can also try just bringing it up in conversation. The point is that admitting firstly to yourself and then externalising the fact that you are in a mood gets it out of the pressure cooker of your head. It works like a safety valve. Letting off steam is good and is the primary step to getting back on track. Once you have identified the problem, try one or more of the strategies below to get back on an even keel.
2. Make or Mend Something
Try doing something practical, constructive and creative. You don’t need to spend 10 hours completing a scale model of the Empire State Building but mending something, using your ingenuity and problem-solving skills will take your mind into a more positive area. Make sure that you do something quick, quantifiable and achievable and the sense of satisfaction that you get from it will start to work wonders.
Doing a boring, simple, menial task that you have been putting off for ages can also work well. This type of activity has a good return on the amount of effort required to carry it out. It will probably be simple to achieve and not require much brain power. However, being able to tick its long standing presence off your “to do” list will give you a positive boost.
Whenever you are in a mood, setting yourself very small, achievable goals and tasks rather than looking too hard at the over view is a good strategy. Set yourself up for success rather than failure.
3. Watch TV Comedy/Stand Up
You can’t really be in a bad mood and laugh at the same time. You really won’t feel like doing it but, if you can take even a few minutes and watch a TV show or a video of a comedian that you know makes you laugh, your mood will probably dissolve away.
If you feel you can’t take time out then what about listening to something funny and entertaining whilst you work or try to get on with being in a bad mood? Having a few “anti mood” tracks on your phone ready to go can be a great way of preparing for the worst. When you feel your mood coming on, you can just plug in your headphones and hopefully pull yourself out of it.
The point is that you are making an intervention. You recognise that you are in a bad mood and, rather than indulging in it, you take action to direct yourself out of it. Laughter is known to be a great remedy, it relaxes you and relieves tension for up to 45 minutes afterwards. It’s even known to boost the immune system!
4. Create and Eat Some Healthy Food
Giving your body some great, high-quality nutrition has a calming and cleansing effect that can also powerfully affect your mood. There’s something therapeutic about thinking about what to create, then actually taking the time to make it and finally consuming it.
Eating is often comforting and, if you’re eating something that just feels good and healthy, it will put you in a better mood. There’s also something very empowering about indulging in some self-care as well. Taking the time to fuel your body properly will make you physically feel good which has a knock-on effect on your mood too.
5. Dance Like an Idiot
This one works wonders and, if you can pull it off, will snap you out of a bad mood in minutes. Basically, you need to pull the curtains, put on some loud and crazy music and dance yourself back into a good mood!
Musically, you need your guilty feel-good indulgence tracks then close your eyes, imagine you are at a massive gig and just let yourself go! There’s no one watching, no one need ever know you did it but, if you can make the mental transition effectively, you will be back in a good mood in a matter of moments.
6. Get Outside and Dig the Garden
There’s something incredibly therapeutic about gardening. It’s the combination of fresh air, being at one with nature and nurturing plants that can give an almost instant sense of well-being.
Digging the garden has the added advantage of being a physical exercise as well as a very positive “back to basics” activity. Clearing away weeds and preparing the ground for planting for new growth has obvious positive connotations. Simplistic as it may seem, these types of activities tap into a fundamental part of our psyche and can give an almost instant sense of well-being.
7. Get Off Screens and Social Media
Passively absorbing information can stupefy the brain and social media often has the effect of just making us feel inadequate as we compare ourselves to others. Blankly staring at a screen will not help get you out of your mood, blindly scrolling through social media updates is depressing.
If you know you are in a bad mood then I would go as far as suggesting that you switch your phone off. Get away from your computer screen if possible and try to do something practical and physical instead.
8. Do Something Nice for Someone Else
It’s very easy when you are in a bad mood to become introspective and self-absorbed. If you can turn this around and help someone else out, you will also be helping yourself get out of your mood.
It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose or complicated but simply the act of thinking about someone else rather than yourself and putting someone else’s needs before your own can have a very positive effect on your mood.
9. Shout and Lose Your Temper
The natural conclusion for a bad mood is probably most likely that you will completely lose your temper. Often, the pressure just builds and builds. Sometimes it might take several hours to reach a climax but often there will be a trigger point, maybe something completely trivial that will be “the straw that broke the camels back” and you will just let rip!
I’ve lost my temper many times over the years and it’s never really achieved anything positive. If we are not careful, losing our temper can put us in all sorts of potentially destructive situations. We can quickly and painfully damage relationships and put ourselves in all sorts of danger.
The point is that there’s nothing actually wrong with losing your temper. Sometimes it just has to be done. It’s the way that you do it that’s important.
So, firstly give yourself permission to “go into one” but, most importantly prepare for it. You need to do it in a safe space, with safe people who know what’s going on and at a safe time.
Personally, I find throwing things and shouting is a great stress reliever! I look like a 49-year-old toddler having a tantrum and it’s potentially frightening to watch. However, if I manage to warn the family, go into the garden, shout at myself and jump up and down on the lawn it usually does the trick as I basically quickly start to feel like an idiot!
You will find your own method!
The important thing is that it is planned and controlled. If you can’t do yourself or anyone else any harm when you lose your temper it can be a quick and effective way to get your self back on an even keel!
I hope you have found the above tips helpful! Have you found any other quick and effective ways to get yourself out of a bad mood? If you have, leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.
– About the Writer –
Andrew Hind is a Dad to three teenage girls, photographer and musician as well as a keen cyclist. He is also the blogger at The Road Cyclist’s Guide, a blog about cycling, life and thriving. You can also connect at Facebook.