We all have bad days, bad weeks, or even bad months—times it feels like we're trapped by circumstances. It can be hard to find your way out of a bad mood.
Most advice will focus on what you should do to feel better. We know thinking positively and being compassionate with ourselves can help. But no one really talks about what you shouldn’t do.
Recently, I experienced a funk that pulled me down hard. I tried to reach for my bag of happiness tricks, things like “think good thoughts,” “do what you love,” “call a friend,” but none of it helped. So instead, I focused on what I was doing that might be making things worse and stopped doing those things. Pretty soon, my mood improved. So, if you're feeling down and those old standbys just aren't cutting it, start thinking about what you might need to stop doing.
1. Feeling bad for feeling bad.
Trying to be happy all the time shouldn’t be our goal. It's impossible! The idea that we aren't supposed to feel our full range of emotions often keeps us stuck. Instead of thinking you're in bad shape because you're angry, sad, depressed, or frustrated, simply allow yourself to be present with your emotions and let them move through you. In doing this, you can release them and make room for peace.
2. Focusing on the problem, not the solution.
It may feel good to share your troubles, but complaining over and over about the same issue not only affects your friends’ well-being—it can actually hurt you. Instead of complaining, just identify steps you can take to pull yourself into a more balanced state.
3. Eating your feelings.
It may feel good for a moment, but as soon as you're done eating your comfort food, guilt and shame set in. In a study, college-age women who were concerned about their eating behaviors reported that their moods were actually worse after bouts of disordered eating.
Next time you're tempted to reach for the mac and cheese or ice cream, remind yourself that this will probably exacerbate your bad mood and opt for healthier foods. Choose snacks that make you feel healthier from the inside out. My go-to items are smoothies and kale chips.
4. Stewing in entitlement.
Everyone has bad days, but feeling like the world owes you something is an easy way to find yourself in a bad mood. Instead of feeling like a victim, be grateful for what is working in your life. Appreciation can go a long way.
5. Avoiding fresh air.
Getting outside will boost your mood instantly. Instead of hibernating indoors with Netflix, get out and enjoy the outdoors. Sunlight is nature's antidepressant, after all.
6. Staying in your head.
When we're in a rough mood, we tend to focus on what isn’t going well. We replay negative situations and outcomes. Instead of wallowing in self-pity or overanalyzing past drama, start living. Do activities that bring you joy: coloring, cooking, reading a good book, or doing yoga.
7. Not moving at all. Ever.
Even if it feels like the least appealing thing in the world, five minutes with an elevated heart rate will boost your mood for hours thereafter. Take a new exercise class or find a buddy to take a walk/jog through the park with you. Moving your body will help you feel more balanced, in control, and ready to bounce back from a "blah" mood.