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Published on June 4, 2020

5 Ways to Get Out of a Bad Mood (Backed by Psychology)

5 Ways to Get Out of a Bad Mood (Backed by Psychology)

There is nothing worse than being caught in a bad mood, especially when it seemingly comes out of nowhere. It can be caused by one thing, one off comment, a snide look, or an empty coffee cup, and the negativity overwhelms us and throws us into a bad mood.

But now that you find yourself in one, it’s pointless to continue to stay there. Being in a bad mood is okay for a short time, but you don’t have to stay in a bad mood. It isn’t productive or conducive to you being happy and living your best life.

What Causes a Bad Mood?

Some psychologists believe a bad mood originates due to ego depletion. Researcher Roy Baumeister[1] suggests when people use up their willpower to avoid temptation, they drain cognitive resources.

Think of yourself as having a stress-threshold. When you pass the line, you get in a bad mood, which might manifest itself as anger, irritability, or cynicism. All of these cause your blood pressure to fluctuate and increase your level of the stress hormone cortisol.

There are so many causes that can put us in a bad mood, and they are all completely personal to you and your situation. While the causes are varied, there are some common strategies that tend to help those who have fallen into a bad mood.

5 Ways to Get out of a Bad Mood

This list is more like a pick and choose for whichever one will work for you. Some will work for some bad moods, but keep in mind that if your bad mood is caused by a strong feeling you are having, you should face that feeling and deal with the situation. The most effective way to get out of a bad mood is to face your problems and resolve them.

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1. Gratitude

Gratitude is the power to switch your mindset from lack and negativity to abundance and positivity[2]. It is easy to get sucked into the a negative headspace with the society we live in, the media, and our culture.

However, by practicing gratitude you literally change the molecular structure of the brain. It keeps the gray matter functioning and makes you feel healthier and happier[3]

The power of gratitude is extensive and has been backed by scientists over and over again. By practicing gratitude, you activate your hypothalamus and the other parts of the brain’s reward pathways to improve your mood. Your brain is an incredible asset and can be used to generate positive or negative emotions, and it’s ultimately your choice.

Practice gratitude as a way to disperse your bad mood. You don’t have to start off big. Start small by appreciating the little things in life: the smell of coffee, the kindness of a stranger, the sound of your baby laughing. Gratitude can be just as addictive as a bad mood.

2. Exercise

Now gratitude is a wonderful asset, but sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes you are just in such a bad mood that you can’t even get into that state to express gratitude. This is when you can try exercise. There is so much evidence backing exercise as a mood booster that it is overwhelming[4].

The most notable shift that exercise creates is the release of four notable chemicals into your brain: serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and norepinephrine[5]. These chemicals are released into your body and are designed to make you feel happy; in fact, they are called the happiness chemicals! If you’ve gotten stuck in a bad mood, try an exercise class or go on a long walk or run. You’ll be surprised how much it helps!

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Try these morning exercises to get your day started on a good note!

3. Meditation

Next, let’s talk about a deeper way to deal with a bad mood: meditation. The world is extremely overwhelming, and sometimes exercise and gratitude just don’t cut it. Sometimes you just need to stop for a moment and breathe.

It is so easy to get caught up in those negative thoughts that are floating around your head, so take a moment to sit in them and face them.

When you are stressed or in a bad mood, your medial prefrontal cortex becomes hyperactive and you become depressed. Meditation has been found to change certain brain regions that are specifically linked with depression. Dr. John W. Denniger, director of research at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, explains:

“Meditation trains the brain to achieve sustained focus, and to return to that focus when negative thinking, emotions, and physical sensations intrude — which happens a lot when you feel stressed and anxious.”[6]

Meditation is another way to use your amazing body to work with you to help you boost your way out of a bad mood. It makes you stop and face those feelings and relax the tension that they are causing. There are even options to do specific mood-boosting guided meditations to help you if you are new to meditation.

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If you’re not sure where to start, check out this guide to get started.

4. Rest

Meditation, gratitude and exercise are all well and good, but if you are exhausted, they won’t be much help. We are all just human beings, and at the end of the day, we live, breathe, eat, and get tired. When a bad mood comes, it may just be that you are tired and rundown.

Sometimes you just need to rest, something that is frowned upon in our culture. We live in a “get everything done now” kind of world, and if you rest, you are perceived as lazy, and it is draining and exhausting.

Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood[7]

Try resting, and I don’t just mean sleeping more or having a nap. I mean disconnect from your constant need to go, go, go and sit and take a day to do nothing and recharge. If you are feeling emotionally drained, you will struggle to lift a bad mood.

5. Connect With Your Support System

This one is incredibly important and often underrated. When we feel low, we feel disconnected and unvalued by those around us. Reaching out and talking out your bad mood to a trusted friend in your support network really helps you get out of a bad mood. It helps us to process our feelings, put them into perspective, and obtain advice and support.

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A new brain imaging study by psychologists suggests that verbalizing our feelings makes our sadness, anger, and pain less intense.[8]

When we talk about our feelings, they become less intense, and we can relax a little. Don’t be afraid to reach out. It isn’t always easy, but talking it can really help you move forward.

Sometimes it feels like we just keep all of this noise in our head, and it gets too loud and we just get overwhelmed. Spending time expressing how you feel in a safe space can be very therapeutic and mood-boosting when you receive support and reassurance.

Final Thoughts

Being in a bad mood sucks, but you are overall responsible for your mood and actions. Someone or something can trigger a bad mood, but you are in charge of how you feel and what you do moving forward.

You can choose to do these activities to boost your mood and take responsibility for how you feel, giving you back power and control over your mood.

Nothing lasts forever, not even a bad mood. Look to the future and gain some perspective. One day, you won’t even remember this moment.

More Tips on Curing a Bad Mood

Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jade Nyx

Qualified Life Coach

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Last Updated on November 4, 2020

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

Self-improvement doesn’t have to be big mind-blowing changes; it can actually be simple steps to improve upon what you already have to get you where you want to be.  However, what you will need is consistency, determination and wiliness to try some things that will stretch and challenge you.

Rather than setting your sights way off into the future, which leaves you feeling like you’ll never make it, you can start following these simple and effective self-improvement steps today.  So if you want to make an immediate impact on your life and are willing to take action, then keep reading— you’ll going to love these!

1. Be willing to work hard.

As with anything in life, if you want something, you’ve got to work hard to get it.  This doesn’t mean you burn the candle at both ends, leaving you exhausted and leaving your personal life in ruins.  It merely means that when you want something badly enough, you’ll put in the time to get there.  Action is what’s important here and the more ‘inspired’ the action is, the better the results in the end.

2. Make sure you have friends who you can talk to.

Sharing the load is important as with any self-improvement. If you can communicate with others and get feedback on how you are doing then that’s great.  We all need ‘cheerleaders’ in our corner to keep us going when times get hard, but you also need to have people who will tell you how it is even when you don’t want to hear it.  So make sure you have a good support network around you, especially those people whose opinions you respect.

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3. Adapt to your circumstances rather than over-thinking them.

Sometimes, we can hit a hard period. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or your partner has left you.  Instead of over analyzing the situation, learn to adapt to your circumstances and accept them as they are.  It’s not about making your circumstances into some kind of a drama; remember, what you focus on expands which means you’ll get more of it.  You then don’t become your problems and you’ll feel a lot less burdened by them.

4. Ensure that you use your time wisely.

Time is of the essence, some might say; whilst others will say that time is an illusion.  One thing we do know is that you have one life on this planet, so how you use that time is of the utmost importance.  So how can you use your time wisely? Only you know how to do that, but look at how you currently spend your days: do you sit working all day, get home, eat and then sit slumped in front of the TV for the rest of the evening?  Your time on this earth is precious, so isn’t it time to make use of the time you have left? Try something new, go for a walk, learn a new language or meditate but make sure it’s something you absolutely love.

5. Always be consistent.

A wonderful way to self-improvement is to make changes to how you do things.  For example, with your friends, are you always the unreliable one who bows out of an arrangement just before it happens? Or are you someone who starts a new exercise routine and then stops doing it 3 weeks into it?  Whatever it is and whatever you do, always be consistent. When you make a commitment, stick to it. It will improve your life immeasurably you’ll feel more confident and happier with yourself, especially because you’ll know that whatever you tackle, you’ll be able to consistently do it!

6. Go and find your happy place.

No, I’m not saying “place” as in popping to your local bar or restaurant and gorging yourself on your favorite drinks or food. What I’m saying is to find out what you love to do, what makes you happy and go there.  Your happy place is a place where you find peace, where you lose yourself and feel contented.  Meditation is a great way to find your happy place; it brings you back to you and ensures that you are always living in the present moment.

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7. Make sure you embrace all your emotions.

In life you are going to find that it throws you some difficult challenges, sometimes it will bring out your fears and lead you into uncertainty, and other times it will be joyful.  It’s important to embrace all emotions that come up in your life, embrace them wholeheartedly and understand why they are there and then let them go.  Try not to dismiss or resist them because remember “what you resist, persists,” so embrace them each and every time.

8. Always be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

The idea of stepping out of your comfort zone for some people can leave you paralyzed with fear; however for any changing in your life, your comfort zone will always have to be stepped out of.  It doesn’t have to be something big, like doing a sky-dive or something just as crazy. However, it’s worthwhile to change something that you’d once have feared, like going to the cinema on your own or eating at a sushi restaurant when the thought of trying raw fish which would normally mean you running for the hills.

So try something new—it doesn’t have to be wacky, but it has to challenge you!

9. Be on hand to help others.

Whether it’s helping a stranger on the street or a family member or a friend helping someone else either in their time of need, lending a helping hand is a wonderful and simple self-improvement to make.  Giving to others is not only beneficial to those you are helping but also to yourself; it can give you a sense of purpose, of contribution and also takes your mind of your own troubles and worries.

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10. Live in the present moment.

A wonderful self-improvement tool is to live in the present moment, to live in the now.  It is within this moment that you’ll appreciate all that you have and see the beauty in the simplest of things.  Being mindful of your current circumstances and bringing your mind back to where it belongs will bring about a happier way of life instead of constant worry or stressing about the past or future—both of which do not exist. Only the present moment exists. When you get used to living that way, you’ll never want to go back!

11. Learn something new.

There is nothing so liberating as learning something new; it can lift both your confidence and self-esteem and give you a great reason to meet new people.  If you continually top up your brain activity by learning something new all the time, you’ll feel on top of your game and want to share the knowledge you have learned. There is nothing quite so empowering as learning a new tool in life that can either improve your circle of friends or raise confidence levels—or both!

Reading is also a great way to help you learn something new:

12. Exercise daily.

This seems an obvious one, but exercise is so important not only to your health but also to your spirit.  We all know that after exercise, the world can feel a brighter and more positive place, so why don’t we do it more often?  Exercise isn’t about getting the perfect body or losing weight; it’s more about feeling good inside and out!  With a healthy body comes a healthy mind—so start something today. Even if it’s just a daily walk, it’s better than staying on that couch, again.

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13. Go to new places, travel a bit.

I’m not saying go fly off to some far away distant forgotten land—although you can if you so wish. It’s more about going to new places and experiencing life outside of your own back yard.  Too many of us stay in one place too often. We only see the same people, the same streets and do the same things each and every day.  If you want to improve your life, get out there and see the world and what it can offer.  You can start by going to a town or city you’ve never been to in your own country and checking out the architecture, the landscapes and the people.  Anything new is good, so get out there!

14. Listen to uplifting music and dance.

If there’s one thing that can really improve your life and get you excited about it, it’s listening to great uplifting music and dancing.  When was the last time you really let go?  Let it all hang loose and got into a piece of music and let yourself go?  Dancing, like exercise, makes you feel great. It releases all kinds of emotions and can make you feel unbelievably good.  Self-improvement isn’t all about the serious stuff; it can be something as simple as finding new music, music that inspires you and makes you dance and have fun!

15. Get up earlier than normal.

This is the last one, and it’s last because it’s one of those self-improvement tips that we all know is a good thing, yet we seem to avoid it at all costs!  If you think about it, the earliest part of the day is when your brain is most active because it’s been turned off for the last 7 hours or so.  So don’t you think it’s best to get all those things above done in the morning?  Things like exercise, meditation and dancing, which can all be done in the first part of the day.  Take it from me: this early morning stuff can really get your day started with a bang!

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Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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