Feeling Down? Tips to Shake a Bad Mood

bad_mood.jpg
BJI/Lane Oatey/Getty Images

Let’s face it – we all experience bad moods from time to time. And while mild, short-term sadness or irritation doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re suffering from depression, our bad moods can be a nuisance that we’d rather not put up with.

I spent years feeling annoyed at my bad moods. I tried therapy, antidepressants, yoga, green juice, fish oil, and everything in between. But no matter how hard I tried, bad moods still crept up on me.

While I haven’t figured out how to completely remove bad moods from my life, I have discovered a few key tips to help keep my mood in check. The next time you wake up with a lump in your throat or feel a general sense of malaise coming on, try one of these techniques:

1. Feel it.

This might sound counterintuitive, but often the quickest way to get rid of a bad mood is to give yourself permission to feel it. Like all things, moods are transitory states that eventually pass. We all know what it feels like to have a good cry. There’s a softening and a sense of release that you feel deep within, like a thunderstorm that finally broke through a heat wave. Allow yourself to cry, punch a pillow, write about your deepest darkest fears – whatever it takes to allow the mood to move through you.

2. Get into the moment.

Our moods are typically the result of either worrying about the future or feeling upset about the past.

A great way out of this predicament is to come into the present moment. Techniques like mindfulness meditation train us to continually bring our attention away from our thoughts and into the present moment, typically by focusing on our breath. Research suggests that mindfulness-based practices have positive effects on depression, making it worth a try.

3. Pay attention.

Sometimes it might seem like our moods are coming out of nowhere, but this is rarely the case. If you take the time, either through your own contemplative practice or in collaboration with a therapist, to really get to the root cause of your mood, you will often come up with concrete steps to kick your bad mood to the curb. For example, maybe you need to set better boundaries with a certain family member or have a chat with your boss. Pay attention to what your mood is trying to tell you.

4. Check yourself.

Our emotions are often the result of dysfunctional thought patterns that are on repeat in our minds. A common practice in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is to complete Thought Records. The purpose of a Thought Record is to check the validity or truthfulness of your thoughts. For example, is it really true that everyone hates you? Probably not. Thought Records shed light on the thoughts behind your moods. And eventually, after you do enough of them, the process starts to happen automatically.

5. Get moving.

When we’re feeling down, the last thing that most of us want to do is move. But research suggests that practices like exercise and yoga can be helpful for boosting your mood. If dragging yourself to a spin session or yoga class feels impossible, try going for a 20-minute walk.

Bottom Line

Don’t be in such a hurry to get rid of your moods. Bring yourself into the moment, give yourself permission to feel how you’re feeling, and eventually, like all things, your mood will pass.

Sources:

Gotink, R.A., P. Chu, J.J. Busschbach, H. Benson, G.L. Fricchione and M.G. Hunink.  "Standardised Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Healthcare: An Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of RCTs."  PLoS One.  10.4 (April 16, 2015): e0124344.

Hofmann, Stefan G., Alice T. Sawyer, Ashley A. Witt and Diana Oh.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 78.2 (Apr 2010):  169-183.

Krogh, J., M. Nordentoft, J.A. Sterne and D.A. Lawlor.  "The effect of exercise in clinically depressed adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials."  J Clin Psychiatry.  72.4 (April 2011):  529-38.

Pilkington, Karen, Graham Kirkwood, Hagen Rampes and Janet Richardson.  "Yoga for depression: The research evidence."  Journal of Affective Disorders.  89.1-3 (December 2005):  13-24.

Continue Reading