Being in a bad mood is often taken lightly and seen as something of a joke. We’ll often tease our friends or relatives for ‘getting out the wrong side of bed’ or ‘being a bit moody’ and generally we don’t consider this to be a big deal. Sometimes though, being in a bad mood can be a serious problem if it happens often or is consistent. Not only can being in a poor mood prevent you from enjoying yourself, it can also lead to severe depression (or be a symptom of depression or stress), cause you to make bad decisions and even cause you to drive your friends and loved ones away. When a bad mood is severe, or when it emerges a little too often, it becomes a serious problem and you need to do something about it.
Here’s how to improve a bad mood using the right psychological techniques and tricks…
Let it Go
There are a lot of articles and books out there advising on catharsis when you’re in a bad mood. ‘Vent your anger’ they recommend, ‘by punching a punch bag or screaming into a pillow’. Unfortunately, though there is one small problem with this advice – it’s unfounded. Studies have shown repeatedly that punching a punch bag or ‘venting’ anger in any other way will achieve nothing and in fact only make you angrier and for longer. The better way to deal with anger is to make a conscious decision to ‘let it go’ – because after all you’re not going to help anyone by being in a strop. Likewise if you’re very upset, make the conscious decision not to wallow.
A piece of advice that is more useful, is to do something incongruent with being in a bad mood. Watch a funny film, sing a happy song or otherwise act in a way that doesn’t sit well with being angry or depressed. This can actually become a self -fulfilling prophecy: you act happy and suddenly you start to become happier. Even just smiling can help to improve your mood due to a process known as ‘facial feedback’.
One slight problem though – you need to actually convince yourself to listen to that happy music if it’s going to have any effect. This can be tricky seeing as your bad mood will be clouding your judgement and will be affecting what you want to do.
The solution is to be incremental – to listen to gradually more upbeat music, or to watch gradually more upbeat programs. Doing this you will be able to ‘ease’ yourself into a better mood and it won’t seem quite so off-putting.