Five Tips to Ditch the Bad Mood
An obnoxious screech emitting from the vile alarm clock yanks you from slumber to reality. You try to hold on to the awesomeness of whatever you were dreaming about but you can’t find the OFF button and your alarm won’t shut up and you realize it’s Monday and you forgot to switch laundry last night and you have a meeting with your most despised colleague today and your rent is late and your car needs brakes and, and, you hate your life and you don’t know what went wrong or how to fix it and you are in a really bad mood. As the day grinds on your mood darkens to the point where every little thing vexes you. In fact, you realize, you can barely remember what it is like to not be in a bad mood.
Ditch the Bad Mood
What would you give to swap your bad mood for a good one, in spite of all your stress? Here are 5 tips to help you do just that:
Turn to the tunes
In the car, home, and even at work, music is a proven go-to for those seeking to elevate their mood. So much so that people make a living as music therapists. For real. Who knew?
The American Music Therapy Association can fill you in on the Who’s, How’s Where’s and Why’s of the benefits of music. But in laymen’s terms; it rocks. I received responses ranging from people taking out their guitar to strum a tune, cranking the radio in traffic jams to take the mind off the current situation with the added benefit of drowning out cuss words so your wee ones don’t hear, dancing in the kitchen, or writing a song. Heck, even animals can benefit from music. For dog freaks who out at being left alone or dogs awaiting a home in crowded shelters, music can chill them out. Just ask these guys, who created a business offering an array of medleys for just such purposes.
Move it to Lose it:
That’s right – get up! I won’t even bother linking to resources that extoll the virtues of exercise, because we all know it’s true. I don’t need research to cite stats on it. Every time I leave the house I see hordes of people I see running or riding bikes, in all sorts of weather. What drives them to do this? I mean, bike riding I get. It’s fun. But not in the don-the-sleek-suit-hop-on-the-pricey-wheels-and-bike-uphill-in-mad-weather kind of fun. And running? And CrossFit? Once a person makes it through the threshold of suck involved in any of these activities, they are hooked on endorphins and nothing will sway them from it- Nothing. Blizzard with lung-searing temps? They have gear for that. Meniscus surgery? They have willpower for that. Maybe they started for waistline preservation purposes but once hooked, these people are rarely in bad moods because they feel so freaking good, all the time. Even if they are injured, they find a way to feel good about the recovery process.
Don’t have the time, motivation, or opportunity to hike up a mountain or run in an Ironman? Don’t let that stop you! A ten minute walk around the block, watching a movie while strolling on a treadmill, stretching, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, sitting on an exercise ball instead of an office chair- there are endless ways to work in a workout throughout your day.
Find a furry friend
It is pretty impossible to hang on to a bad mood with a purring cat in your lap, or a tail-wagging dog bounding after that slimy ball you obligingly keep throwing. Ever have a horse nicker a greeting, or hear a child giggle when a hamster runs up their arm? Even the non-furry critters like snakes and lizards have been known to ease stress with their presence. To each their own on that one, I say, because someone has to love them.
Can’t own a pet? Take a trip to your local animal shelter and spend some time brushing their cats or walking their dogs. Animals lack the burden of being human. They are in-the-moment creatures who don’t care a lick if your hair is a mess or you didn’t get that promotion. They don’t worry about taxes or politics. They do, however, sense energy and can immediately tell if the person they love is stressed or sad. Even without service dog training, some animals are naturally more sensitive to others and instinctively protective of their person’s well-being. They will place their head in your lap, or snuggle into you, or simply lay next to a sick bed as their loved one battles bad health. They forgive and trust and love with their whole being, and if you let them, they will remind you of the little things that make life special. And guess what? You can incorporate animals into the other bad mood busters. Exercise and helping others go hand in paw with walking shelter dogs. Speaking of helping others, let’s move on to the next tip.
Do Something to Help Someone Else
“Helping other people gives me a boost of energy,” one person messaged me. The Corporation for National & Community Service agrees. Check out their site for the nuts and bolts of it. All sorts of information on the mental and physical benefits of altruism can be found there. While you’re at it, take the time to learn how you can find volunteer opportunities in your life.
Wait – Don’t say it. I know. You’re too busy to commit more time to volunteering anywhere. That’s okay. I get it. I’m a single mom of four boys. I am responsible for a busy work schedule on top of all the stress attached to a fifty-year-old house and the small farm I have created. Luckily for me, my work as a Veterans Specialist allows me to reap the benefits of helping people navigate emotional or personal tough times. I have also learned the merits of the little things.
Something as little as holding a door for someone can make you feel good. Opportunities like that abound in our daily lives. With four teenage boys, my grocery store is my second home. I am often guilty of leaving the shopping cart alongside my car as I have convinced myself I am too busy or too tired or it’s too cold out to take those extra seconds required to return the cart. But last week, as I slammed the lid on my overstuffed trunk and sidled the cart alongside my car, I caught a side glimpse of a line of carts moving down the parking lot. Steering that line was someone bundled up to his eyeballs against the icy wind. Guilt clamped down more fiercely than the chill as I turned up my car’s heater, so I got up and wheeled the cart his way. My short nod and half smile were met with a huge smile and laughed-out “Thanks!” that shook the man’s hood off his head. Back and forth that head went, smile with it, as he told me I’d just made his day.
I drove away in a conflicting state of warmth and shame. That man’s energy and gratefulness lit up the frigid parking lot. But my irritation at having been “caught” and “guilted” into returning the cart to him made me aware that I didn’t deserve his gratefulness. That one act of returning my cart took up approximately 20 seconds of my time and rebooted my awareness of other people’s perspective in a way that I won’t soon forget.
If you’re feeling up to being social, reach out in person. A phone call to a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while – just to say hello- can work wonders. A simple smile to a stranger can have surprising results, too – it may be they are in just as bad a mood as you, and they are often so surprised at the simple act of a stranger’s smile that they beam their own in return. It’s infectious.
For the less social foul moods, here’s an alternative; write a letter. Yup. A letter. With pen and paper. Or even a post card. One person said she keeps blank notecards in her desk for just such occasions. If you want to really be prepared, keep stamps on hand too. Jot down a brief note or take the time to write an actual letter to someone you know would be happy to get it. Can’t think of anyone you aren’t annoyed with, or maybe you are drifting alone with no family or real friends? Write a letter to someone in the military. Thank them for their service and offer them encouragement. The added benefit of rebooting your thankfulness coupled with the act of doing something nice for someone is that extra jolt of feel-good.