Strategies to Pull Yourself Out of a Bad Mood
How to take control of your emotions when things aren’t going your way
The incident that ruined my day happened early in the morning: I was in my car and inadvertently cut off another driver, who then zoomed up next to me and yelled, “Idiot!” outside my window before hastily driving off. Frustrated, I yelled something nasty back, even though I knew he couldn’t hear me — which frustrated me, too.
Even minor annoyances like these can create a domino effect. The first annoyance magnifies each one that follows, all of them building on each other until you’ve worked yourself into a full-on bad mood.
“When you’re in a bad mood or having a bad day, it’s easy to chalk it up to bad luck,” says Kate Hanley, a personal development coach and author of How to Be a Better Person, “which makes it feel as if you’re helpless to do anything about it.”
But there are ways you can successfully lessen your negative reactions before they escalate. When you feel the day spiraling away from you, simply noticing that you’re in a funk is an important first step toward getting out of it. Here are a few ways to pull yourself out of a bad mood before it gets too big to control.
Pinpoint what’s gone wrong
Rather than resign yourself to staying crabby, Hanley suggests looking for specific triggers, like getting a bad night’s sleep or having unresolved feelings about something someone said to you. “When you can look and see that there is a legitimate reason why you’re in a bad mood, it helps dispel that sense of doom and gloom,” she explains.
Triggers can be physical, too. For instance, I have a bad habit of drinking too much coffee and little else, turning me into a jittery, dehydrated mess. According to Hanley, a small detail like this can be a contributing factor to a bad mood—and one that might be easily overlooked.
Hanley suggests asking yourself when the bad mood started and what set it off. “Maybe you snapped at your co-worker because you have a headache that you’ve been trying to pretend isn’t really there,” she says. And when you look at why you have a headache — possibly caused by, say, ingesting five coffees — now you know…