We have all had a case of the blues. You know, those times in our lives where the world looks bleak and things just don’t seem to be going in our favor. No matter how hard we try to turn things around, it seems to end up as wasted effort and all we can do is throw our hands up and ask, “Why me?” But as much as we resist our sadness, anger, frustration, or grief, it is often during these dark moments when we come to realize we have the greatest opportunity for transformation.
Finding yourself in a funk you cannot seem to shake? Here are 15 tips to transform your bad mood and learn from it in the process:
- Acknowledge and accept it: You have probably heard the phrase “resistance is futile.” Fighting against negative feelings will not make them go away. If you find yourself in a dark room, you will not make it light by pretending it is not dark. You must, at some point, acknowledge that it is dark before you search for light. In order to change your mood, you must first admit to yourself how you are feeling.
- Reframe your bad mood: Every experience can serve as a lesson. When you experience mood changes, examine the triggers behind your emotions and try to reframe your thinking. Emotional reactions can teach us a great deal about our personal values and desires. Rather than see your bad mood as an enemy, reframe it as a friend that’s there to help you learn about yourself and grow as a person.
- Cultivate gratitude: When you find yourself waking up in a bad mood, try focusing on what you are grateful for. Many people tend to focus on a bad event or situation that isn’t unfolding according to plan, rather than looking at all the good things surrounding the event or situation. Taking a few moments to build a simple list of things you are thankful for each day can greatly improve your mood and change your outlook.
- Monitor your thoughts: If you seem to always be in a bad mood, start monitoring your thoughts for negativity. Our thoughts typically precede our emotions. If we consistently engage in negative self-talk, it is virtually impossible to feel good about ourselves. Try to remain aware of your thoughts throughout the day, or consider keeping a journal to help you shift your negative thoughts into positive affirmations.
- Remember, you are not your emotions: It’s easy to get so caught up in emotions that we become them. We often hear people say, “I’m angry,” rather than “I have anger.” Emotions are passing experiences. When we can become the witness consciousness—able to observe closely without reactivity or judgment—and separate ourselves from our emotions, it is easier to stay centered and at peace.
- Exercise: Exercising releases endorphins, which create a positive feeling in the body. Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood, alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce stress.
- Meditate: Meditation not only helps us monitor our thoughts and feelings, but it also brings us into the present moment. Many times, when you are in a bad mood, it might be over something that occurred yesterday or even last week. When we come into the present moment, we can experience a sense of freedom and peace.
- Try something new: The daily grind of life can start to feel mundane, and a lack of stimulation or excitement can contribute to a bad mood. Novelty awakens the senses and sparks our curiosity. Try something you’ve never done and enjoy the benefits of shaking up your routine.
- Talk to someone: Sometimes, simply speaking your thoughts aloud and sharing your feelings with others may help you feel better. Consider talking to someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, or qualified therapist.
- Get creative with your emotion: Emotions are meant to be expressed, not repressed. When you feel like you are in a bad mood, try using your favorite creative means to express your feelings. Write a poem, play an instrument, draw, paint, dance, or craft—whatever moves you.
- Spend time in nature: Spending time outside naturally relieves stress. Sunlight, fresh air, and living plants tend to provide us with a sense of invigoration and aliveness. Going outside also gives us a great excuse to exercise. Try going for a bike ride or a walk or hike in the woods next time you feel down in the dumps.
- Pay it forward: Giving evokes feelings of gratitude and promotes feelings of goodwill. Giving is also known to release oxytocin, a feel-good hormone in the brain. Shifting your focus away from yourself and onto someone you care about may help you gain perspective and feel a stronger connection to others.
- Focus on self-care: When you’re down in the dumps, it is easy to let your self-care regimen fall apart. Taking care of ourselves is essential to making sure that we feel good physically, emotionally, and mentally. Among other important things, make sure you’re eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest, and effectively managing your stress.
- Set attainable goals: Studies have shown that people experiencing depression often set unrealistic goals. While setting goals is a great way to motivate oneself, setting unattainable goals will only increase our feelings of dissatisfaction and hopelessness. Consider working with a life coach or therapist to help you create realistic goals and set them into action.
- Forgive yourself: Sometimes when we ask ourselves, “Why am in a bad mood?” we may find it is due to feelings of shame, regret, or guilt over mistakes we have made in the past. Forgiving ourselves is typically more difficult than forgiving others. Remind yourself that you are human and that life is a learning process. Let go of your mistakes and focus on how you can do better in the future.
Know When You Need Helpmental health issues. The great news is that depression is highly treatable, with 80% to 90% of those who seek treatment reporting relief. If mood changes persist for a long period of time or you continue to feel down, consider finding a therapist or counselor near you.
- Public Broadcasting Service. (n.d.). Depression out of the shadows. Retrieved from http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/takeonestep/depression/pdf/dep_stats.pdf
- Strunk, D., Lopez, H., & DeRubeis, R. (2006). Depressive symptoms are associated with unrealistic negative predictions of future life events. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44. Retrieved November 28, 2014, from https://psychology.sas.upenn.edu/system/files/Strunk Behav Res Ther 2006 Negative Predictions.pdf
- Zak PJ, Stanton AA, Ahmadi S (2007). Oxytocin increases generosity in humans. PLoS ONE 2(11): doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001128
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