When anxiety, depression or some other negative mood threatens to put a shadow over your day, remember that people just like you have found ways to chase that darkness away or simply let it go by.
These strategies may not provide a long-term solution for complex mental health issues that are better served with the assistance of a professional therapist. But each time you use one of these “bad mood busters,” your positive moods get stronger and you have one more ray of light shining on your emotional landscape.
Tips for Turning Away Anxiety, Depression and Other Bad Moods
Do Something: Remember the simple gem of wisdom kids hear early in life – “Turn that frown upside down.” Smiling at a stranger walking by you on the street can lift both your spirits. Getting yourself outside to take that walk is “doing something.” The walk and the smile can be the first steps in getting over that feeling of being paralyzed under the weight of a bad mood. Carry on with your plans for the day or make new plans. Choose “something to do” that pulls you out of the shadow, like calling a friend to chat or listening to a piece of music that makes you feel good. There so many free, easy “somethings” to choose from, just pick one that’s available at the moment and go with it. You are not going to miss the bad mood that you left in your rear view mirror.
Distance Yourself from the Mood: Keep in mind that the mood is not who you are. It’s a fleeting emotion, as fleeting as a cold wind on a winter day that chills your bones just before the clouds break and the sun comes out to warm you. Repeat this statement or make up your own – “This mood isn’t who I am. It’s just something I’m experiencing and it’s already passing by.”
Practice Mindfulness: Instead of fixating on the bad mood, pull yourself out of the funk and change focus. Take a few deep, slow breaths and shift your attention to something pleasant, like a flower, a picture of someone you love or the mysterious in-and-out rhythm of your own breath that keeps you alive.
Feel the Emotion: Accept that you are feeling sadness, anger or fear. Identify the event or the emotion that triggered the bad mood. Sit with it for a few moments, and then let it slip quietly away while you move forward in your life. Negative events, bad feelings and tragedies show up in everyone’s life at one time or another. Maybe a dear friend died unexpectedly or you were passed over for a new job that you’re highly qualified for. We’re human, so you are not alone in sometimes riding these emotional waves. Ride it, and then float peacefully onto the shore with your heart more empathetic for the troubles of the world and your energy free to be renewed.
Find the Lesson: This is a critical step in the process of getting out of a bad mood. Every situation offers us a lesson or greater understanding about ourselves. Take a step back and view the circumstance from a broader perspective. What caused the mood? Are there ways to avoid what triggered the mood? Is there a way to change your reaction to that trigger next time? Did you have a disagreement with your spouse or partner about who does the dishes or the laundry? Are you having the same argument time and again over different issues with the same source, like maybe you feel unappreciated or that you are taking on an unfair share of the responsibilities? Do your best to talk it out to an understanding, or get help from a counselor so you can find a resolution and learn the lesson. Then the negative circumstance doesn’t have to be repeated.
Turn the Negative Mood into a Positive Force in Your Life
Sometimes what we interpret as negative may force us to take a chance to make positive changes that will keep our spirits up more often and for longer periods of time. Recognize, identify and ease away from that negative mood. Put positive “mood lifters” into action so that next time a negative mood tries to push you off balance, you can shift your perspective and let that mood slide by. That’s when a negative mood can become transformational.