We've all had those days that just feel gross from the get-go. A dark mood moves in and nothing seems to shake it. Wouldn't it be lovely if there were some reliable way to shift out of a funk and back into forging ahead? The next time you are struggling to get free from a foul temper, try one of these go-to mood makeover moves.
1. Notice you're in a mood.
The only way you are going to get out of a funk is if you admit that you're in one in the first place. The sooner the better. If you just try to stiff-upper-lip a foul mood, chances are it will only intensify. And I don't know about you, but when I tell myself to "just be positive" it usually makes me want to drive my head through the closest window. Instead, I've found "just be honest" works so much better. If you can admit to yourself that you're in a mood you'll be much better off because, truly, the quickest way out of a mood is through.
2. Look for the lie.
Author and life coach Dr. Martha Beck says that the truth sets us free. So when we don't feel free, it's because somewhere, somehow, we are not being truthful with ourselves. Our brains are fantastic storytellers and our bodies are finely tuned lie detectors. To our bodies, lies feel heavy, restrictive, and sometimes even painful.
So when you get into a funk ask yourself, "What is the lie I am telling myself?" It may be a lie about your worthiness, it may be a lie about what someone else thinks about you, or it may a lie about who/what/where you "should" be. Once you find the lie, flip it. Tell yourself the exact opposite thought and see how that feels to your body. Does the opposite thought feel more heavy or more light? When you find something that feels even slightly lighter or freer, you're getting closer to the actual truth.
3. Honor your emotions.
All our emotions are valuable, even the shitty ones, because they are all trying to tell us something. Go someplace where you will be undisturbed for a few minutes and feel for the emotion underlying your funk. Is it anger? Sadness? Jealousy? Grief? Frustration? Shame?
Get crystal clear on what the emotional undertone of your mood is because that will show you the way through it. Anger often means that a boundary has been violated. How can you restore that boundary? Sadness is asking us to let go of something. Jealousy points us to something we want for ourselves. For more information on what your emotions are trying to tell to you, check out Karla McLaren's excellent book, The Language of Emotions.
4. Play pen pal.
Try this. Get out a piece of paper and a pen. Write down the following question: "OK, mood, why are you here?" Now picture your mood, in your mind, as an actual person. My latest foul mood was a snarling, lumpy, stinking hunchback with a scraggly beard and nasty teeth.
Next read the question and become your mood. Become that gnarly hunchback. Now switch the pen to your nondominant hand and answer the question.
This may feel silly at first, but give it a chance. By becoming the living, breathing embodiment of your mood and forcing yourself to write with your nondominant hand, your brain is compelled to operate in a completely new way. This unique approach gives you fresh access to your festering mood.
You might be surprised by what your mood has to tell you. Keep switching your pen from hand to hand, asking questions and answering them in turn until you reach a point where your mood feels heard. I have a hunch once your mood has had its say you will feel a whole lot lighter.
5. Make a connection.
The sociobiologist E.O. Wilson wrote, "To be kept in solitude is to be kept in pain." So the next time you are in a foul mood reach out to someone you love. Text a friend, call your mom, or cuddle with your dog. You don't have to dump your mood on them or spill your guts if you don't want to. Just the simple request for connection can be like a balm for an irritated state of mind. It helps to remember you're not alone in that funk.
6. Go outside.
If I was grumpy as a kid, my mother would tell me to, "Go outside and blow some stink off!" And she was not wrong. It turns out that a stroll in nature confers a whole host of health benefits. A study done at Stanford University showed that a 90-minute walk in a natural setting decreased rumination (the tendency to dwell on one's problems) and lowered activity in the area of the brain associated with regulation of negative thoughts. Feeling grumpy? Take my mother's advice. Go outside and blow some stink off!