Get Out of a Bad Mood: 3 Science-Based Strategies That Really WorkNone By Derrick Carpenter, MAPP
We’ve all been there. You’ve got a laundry list of tasks to finish for the afternoon or you’re starting to get ready for an evening out with friends, but you just can’t shake your bad mood enough to get yourself moving. You're in a funk. And the more you sit around being unproductive, the worse you feel. It's a vicious cycle. What you need is a quick fix to lift your mood so you can feel like yourself again.
But before we talk about how to feel better, let’s hit the pause button for a moment. When you catch yourself feeling moody, a helpful initial step is to take a moment to reflect on what’s causing you to feel what you’re feeling. Our emotions are often an outward sign of what’s going on for us internally, and sometimes, the internal stuff justifies the bad mood. If you catch yourself feeling irritated today, maybe it’s because your sister recently offered some unwanted critical feedback. Or you’re feeling guilty for bailing on a friend the other day. Whatever it is that’s going on for you, recognize what might be causing your mood and accept that these emotions may be serving a purpose. Your irritation could be a sign that your big sis is right and you know you need to make a change. And guilt can motivate us to take steps to repair relationships we feel we’ve neglected. Embrace those emotions and take the action you know you need to take.
There are other times, however, when bad moods pop up from nowhere. Maybe you waited too long to eat lunch or woke up today feeling grumpy. If you need to shake it off, here are three powerful ways to turn your bad mood around.
Focus on Someone Else
A bad mood usually forces us to become overly focused on ourselves. Shifting our attention to others can trick our minds into forgetting our own little world, as we remember everyone else has their ups and downs too. Dacher Keltner, psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Born To Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, borrows the word jen from Confucius to describe the extent to which we bring out the best in other people and avoid bringing them down. Ind