There is no doubt that everyone has bad days. The days when those little things pile up – caught in traffic, late for work, forgot your wallet, dropped your latte – they seem small, but they can build into a terrible mood where you feel like you just might burst.
For those days, which I have certainly experienced (yes I’ve been cut off in traffic and gotten a little too upset, haven’t we all?) there are some things you can do to shake yourself out of it and into a better mood. If I don’t do these things, I turn into a raging dragon witch and no one, not even my cats, want to be around me. These may seem like little things to do but I can assure you, they are going to counteract those frustrations, and can help completely turn your day around.
Stretching is a wonderful way to pull (and push and twist) yourself out of a bad mood. When you stretch, you release some of that pent up energy and anger. Stretching can also lower your blood pressure – something that has likely increased as you have become frustrated. It’s going to help you feel a physical change. Any general stretch will do. I go for a light back bend. Nothing too fancy, I just raise my arms up and slightly arch my back for just a moment, or whatever I can muster at the time. It awakens my spine and my nerves, and I feel refreshed. Also, I’ve often spent a fair amount of mental energy focusing on the stretch, rather than whatever has me in a bad mood, which is helpful as well.
Write it down, and get it out of your head. I think of journaling as a way to pull negative thoughts out of my mind and put them on paper. Then they don’t have to clog up space in my brain anymore (it’s like clicking “empty trash” on my thoughts, just to give you one more analogy). Honestly, it does wonders. Writing down your worries allows you to see them more clearly. It gives your problems a voice, as well as a beginning and an end, rather than having those thoughts circle around in your mind endlessly.
But remember, it doesn’t have to be paper! Pick up your phone/computer/device and type a note (or download one of the many journaling apps available). The point is to get it out however you can. One time I whipped out my phone and furiously typed a note on my phone at a mall when Chad and I got into a big fight. It really helped me.
You probably feel like screaming out of frustration when you’re in a bad mood anyway– well great, do it! Screaming physically releases frustrations and is incredibly cathartic. The trick is to do it where you won’t be heard – you wouldn’t want someone to think there is an emergency (or that you’re crazy). You can scream in your car, or into a pillow, the point is to get that anger out, and then let it go. I have done this several times in my car, and it always helps.
Beat a Pillow
Beating a pillow is based on the same idea that silent screaming is, it’s about physically releasing that mental frustration in an effective way. It draws out those emotions in a way that doesn’t negatively affect you or anyone else (just the pillow). I stack a couple of sofa cushions on the floor in the basement, kneel down and beat the **** out of them. I do it in the basement so no one can see or hear me (and I try to do it when Chad isn’t home for added privacy). Sometimes I’ll scream or cry while doing it too, but honestly, it gets the feelings out and it helps so very, very much. That energy has been exerted and is no longer trapped in my body. What a relief. If hitting a pillow isn’t enough (or possible), hit the gym! Working out is going to release endorphins to combat negative thoughts, and you’ll come out of it feeling a lot better. This isn’t what I reach for, but I know it works for many people.
To deal with a bad mood you can also take a more relaxed route. Close your eyes. Focus on your breathing and the sensation of your chest moving in and out. Simply meditate. This is one of my favorite ways to release stress, because it really does work. The beauty of meditation is that you can do it anywhere, no equipment needed. I’ll set a five-minute timer on my phone, sit down, and try and focus on my breathing as much as possible – and nothing else. To go a step further you can look up a meditation script online, lie down, and play it. You’ll come out of that meditation feeling much lighter.
Grab yourself a candle or essential oil, take a whiff and try to focus entirely on the scent. This strategy is helpful largely because it acts as a distraction – it brings in something positive to think about, that can push out the negative thoughts. Go for an uplifting scent like lemon or a calming scent like lavender. This strategy often works for me, and is a great excuse to buy more scented oils.
Locate the Source
It’s possible that nothing particularly negative has happened to put you in a bad mood, and it seems to have come out of nowhere. That’s okay, it happens – but see if you can locate a source that might not be immediately apparent. Is it mid-afternoon and your blood sugar is dropping? Did you stay up a little too late the night before? Are your in-laws coming in this weekend and you are feeling agitated? These ‘behind the scenes’ issues really play on our emotions. It might not be the obvious source at first, but I can tell you from experience, sometimes a snack, reality check or nap can make you feel a lot better.
If all else fails and the bad mood won’t budge, talk to someone about how you are feeling (and in the long run, a professional). I’ve done it for years and let me tell you, nothing beats paying someone to listen to your innermost feelings and getting unbiased feedback. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so I hope some of these tips can help – and good luck!
Let me know in the comments what you do to release your anger.