There’s nothing worse than feeling yourself sink into a foul mood that you just can’t seem to shake. Except maybe waking up on the wrong side of the bed and starting off in a funk before breakfast. We would all love to know how to get out of a bad mood before it has a chance to ruin our day while alienating friends and co-workers. Often it’s not so easy to just snap out of it and maybe we shouldn’t even try. Professor of psychology and a senior scientist at the at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University, Todd Kashdan, points out, “[W]hen it comes to negative emotions, the more we try to not think about something or try to conceal unwanted thoughts and feelings, the more they pop up randomly throughout our day.” Been there.
Instead of trying to push your negative thoughts away, it can be helpful to stop and try to figure out where they’re coming from. Are you angry about something or at someone? Do you feel guilty about something? Once you know the cause, in many cases you can easily fix the situation. Surprisingly, a 2011 study found that people in bad moods may be more likely to do nice things for others and, not surprisingly, this often turned their frowns upside down.
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On the opposite end of the psychological spectrum, you may not be upset about anything at all. Hunger, low blood sugar and dehydration can all lead to a foul mood. It’s amazing how a glass of water and a snack can instantly perk you up. Research has shown that dark chocolate actually helps you produce the mood-boosting brain chemicals endorphins and serotonin.
If stress or anxiety is the culprit, a trip to the gym is an excellent way to sweat out all that tension. Plus you’ll get a nice endorphin rush. If you can’t fit in a workout, try taking 10 or 20 minutes to find a quiet place and meditate or focus on your breath. Think of it as an extended counting to ten to diffuse anger. Even finding a friend who’ll let you vent for a few minutes can help to release all of that frustration.
Sometimes you just need a momentary distraction to break out of a foul mood. It’s almost impossible to stay grumpy or sad after watching a few adorable animal or baby — even better animal and baby — videos. Try taking a YouTube break to make you smile. A nice 20-minute nap can be an even better way to reset your outlook but that’s a luxury most of us don’t have.
Finally, when you’re feeling down a little pampering can make all the difference. Try surrounding yourself with a soothing fragrance like lavender or jasmine. Even something as small as buying a new lipstick or treating yourself to a fancy coffee can brighten your day.