As the phrase goes: life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. For most people, bad moods lift as quickly as they descend. But what if you’re the type who just can’t let it go?
Instead of waiting for the dark cloud to lift, be proactive and take control of your emotions – before they control you.
Step 1: Looking for the cause
What’s really bringing your mood down? It’s easier to blame your bad mood on being stuck in traffic on your way to work, than say, being unhappy with your job. Some causes of a bad mood are: feeling guilty, experiencing rejection or deep loss, having low self-esteem or anxiety, fearing failure, feeling lonely, being exhausted, getting caught up in small annoyances, and being hungry.
It’s important to remember that these are all common and extremely valid reasons for a bad mood. The point is not to shut out a bad mood but to face it head-on.
It can take some courage to sit quietly and really ask yourself if there are issues you have been unwilling to address. Often, bad moods can descend when a number of things have consecutively gone wrong in a day or a week, or something has been building over a long period. It’s scary to finally pinpoint an issue that is causing your bad mood, because once you do, you’re forced to deal with it.
Step 2: Calm down
There are a number of quick-fix solutions that may help you to curb a bad mood:
- Take 10 full deep breaths to lower your heart rate and restore balance between your parasympathetic (restorative) and sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous systems. Quick tip: breathing practice is the first step towards learning to meditate.
- Write down your feelings in a journal, as this can help you to identify why you’re feeling a certain way, and show you patterns in the way your brain works. Sometimes you can even start to discredit what you have written as untrue, thus seeing the errors in your own negative thoughts.
- Distract yourself. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own head. If you find yourself constantly dwelling on a problem but not resolving anything, the best thing for you may be to blow off steam. Try exercising, watching a film or visiting an art gallery.
Step 3: Create a plan
Because bad moods can arise at any time and for many reasons, it’s helpful to create a plan for next time. Plans enable you to prevent a bad mood escalating or becoming too overwhelming.
- It’s not always possible to solve your problems alone. Talking to somebody else and gaining an outsider’s perspective can help. This might be a trusted friend or member of your family. If your problems are chronic, meaning they recur over a number of weeks or months, it’s worth enlisting the advice of a GP, who can direct you to a counsellor or therapist.
- When you focus on making others happy, you feel better yourself. Try sending flowers to a friend’s house, giving your dad a call to make him happy or volunteering at a charity shop.
- Have a list of affirmations on hand to refer to. You might find it helpful to keep a notebook or a list on your phone of positive sayings, quotes or mantras to read when you feel a bad mood coming on. You might even make a habit of reading it every morning before you start your day.
- Visualise a better reality. Our brains are tricky machines that translate our experience of the world into thoughts, feelings and emotions. This might be our reality but it is not necessarily true reality. It is easy to become stuck thinking about things in a certain way. For example, a negative thinker might see that it’s raining outside and call it ‘bad weather’, when really it’s just the weather. Our brains create our reality and it’s up to us to train our brains to think positively – or at least neutrally.
Do you use any special techniques to lift a bad mood? Why not share them with our members?