We all have times when we need to get out of a bad mood, or escape from a negative frame of mind.
I know I need to make an effort to change how Iâ€™m feeling when I find myself spiraling into a black mood. I might be unreasonably angry, irritable or tearful. I might be in one of those moods which we all get from time to time â€“ wanting to scream, or hit something (or someone). Obviously, this isnâ€™t pleasant for me or for the people around me, and it destroys my ability to focus on doing anything productive.
So Iâ€™ve found, partly through trial-and-error, and partly through reading the advice of others, things which help me to pull myself out of a bad mood.
Cheering Up: Things That Work
When I need to break out of a black mood, these are great instant fixes:
- Anything that makes me laugh. LOLcats â€“ silly but it works, and The Onion are great online sites to keep handily bookmarked for when you need a quick dose of humour.
- Hugging someone (my boyfriend, my mumâ€¦). This helps when Iâ€™m sad, not always when Iâ€™m angry!
- Reading a book. I find reading very absorbing, and a great way to forget about whatever was bothering me. Iâ€™ve been using this as a state-changing technique since my early teens! I find that watching TV doesnâ€™t have the same effect.
- Drinking tea. Over here in Britain, â€œa nice cup of teaâ€ is seen by many people as a magic cure-all whenever anything goes slightly wrong. I find that sweet, milky tea gives me the comfort hit and the caffeine hit that I need to cheer up.
- Going for a walk. When Iâ€™m getting stressed with work, or a situation in my flat, escaping improves my mood almost instantly. And exercise is a natural mood-booster.
- Taking a shower or bath. Like going for a walk, this is a great way to force yourself out of a stressful situation. I also get most of my good ideas in the shower, so if Iâ€™m struggling with my writing, it can be a great help.
Whatever activities you use to change your state of mind, they should be things that make you laugh or relax. Donâ€™t think â€œIâ€™m in a foul mood, I canâ€™t concentrate on my work, so Iâ€™m going to do the choresâ€ â€“ youâ€™re likely to work yourself into a worse and worse frame of mind.
Wanting To Cheer Up
The main problem I struggle with, though, is that when Iâ€™m feeling very upset or wound up with something, I donâ€™t want to cheer up. Itâ€™s hard to explain this (or even understand it!) when Iâ€™m feeling perfectly relaxed and calm, and writing an article for The Change Blog, but part of being in a black mood means feeling that I canâ€™t snap out of it.
Rationally, I know this is nonsense: I can and do change my state to escape from a horrible mood. The hardest thing is to just remember this, and to turn to my list of â€œmood-breakingâ€ activities.
One thing that does help is when my boyfriend (patient and long-suffering chap that he is) recognizes that Iâ€™m getting into a bad mood; heâ€™ll encourage me to go for a walk or get a shower, or heâ€™ll come and give me a hug. If youâ€™ve got a close family member or friend you can rely on, give them permission to tell you to take a â€œtime outâ€ when they recognize that youâ€™re in a bad mood and thank them (once youâ€™re firmly back to your usual self!) afterwardsâ€¦
Something else that Iâ€™m going to try is making the link between a bad state of mind and a cheering-up activity seem more automatic. For example, when Iâ€™m feeling tearful, instead of just getting more and more worked up, Iâ€™ll take a shower and calm down. If Iâ€™m getting frustrated or angry about something, Iâ€™ll turn to a good book, or to something that makes me laugh. As soon as I recognize Iâ€™m in a negative frame of mind, Iâ€™ll automatically reach for that state-changing activity. Iâ€™m hoping I can condition myself to do this almost without thinking, as once I make that first move, Iâ€™m already well on my way out of the bad moodâ€¦
Avoiding Getting Into A State
Of course, Iâ€™d ideally like to avoid getting to the brink of tears or anger in the first place. I know this means learning to recognize what puts me into an unwelcome state of mind in the first place. Sometimes, there seems to be no obvious cause (and I blame hormones) but I can usually find the roots of the problem if I search hard. For instance, if Iâ€™ve been working too hard, Iâ€™ll often â€œcrackâ€ at some little annoyance. If Iâ€™m feeling overwhelmed with a long to-do list, one small thing going wrong can be enough to throw me into a head-spin.
So for me, and I suspect for many people, avoiding getting into a state which needs breaking means:
- Taking regular time out to rest and recharge. And importantly, not feeling guilty about this or calling it a â€œwaste of timeâ€.
- Avoiding situations where I know Iâ€™m likely to get annoyed. For example, my universityâ€™s computer room on Wednesday afternoonsâ€¦ people chatting on mobiles in libraries is guaranteed to get me seeing red!
- Staying organized with my time and my belongings. This means I donâ€™t end up feeling rushed or stressed because I canâ€™t find things.
Yes, itâ€™s all common sense, and all stress-avoiding advice that Iâ€™ve heard time and time again â€“ but somehow, that doesnâ€™t make it any easier to take on board!
What do all of you do to change your state, to snap out of a miserable or angry mood, and to cheer yourself up? Iâ€™d be very grateful for your advice and your thoughts!
Photo by A6U571N