Bobby McFerrin famously sang “Don’t worry be happy”, but that’s easier said than done. Right? Sometimes we find ourselves stuck in a huff and we don’t know why, or maybe we do know why, but we still struggle to break out of it.
Being in a bad mood has a powerful effect; it leads to more social rejection, worse problem solving skills, and an inability to stop unwanted thoughts. So what does psychological research tell us about how to get out of a bad mood? Here are 7 tips:
Go For a Run: Exercise is a great way to lift your spirits; just a 10-minute run is shown to increase positive feelings and mood. Exercise releases dopamine in your brain acting much in the same way anti-depressants do!
Be Optimistic: Just thinking that positive things will happen to you in the future improves mood. Optimistic people live a higher quality of life than pessimists. In fact optimism leads to better emotional flexibility, problem solving, and rationalising despite negative situations.
Positive Imagery: Much like being optimistic, imagining yourself succeeding or being the best you can be helps bring about a good mood. If you’re feeling down, actively taking time to think or write about your best-possible self brings about a positive change in mood. To read more about this, check out our blog about visualization in either education before an exam or in sport before a match.
Take a Deep Breath: Slow deliberate breathing and movement has a whole host of positive effects (Hyperlink part 2 of regulating emotion in sport blog post). These techniques are shown to reduce negative feelings such as depression, anger, fatigue, and anxiety.
Take a Nap: Extended periods of being awake or feelings of fatigue and exhaustion will increase negative emotions. To offset that, a single hour-long nap leads to increased feelings of joy and happiness. By both countering situations that lead to negative affects and bringing on positive affects, napping is a powerful tool to snap out of a bad mood. For more tips on how to sleep your way to success, check out our 9 Common Sleep Mistakes and How to Fall Asleep Quicker blogs
Treat Yourself: Everyone loves treating themselves to a little bit of “retail therapy”, but you can now justify it with science! The consumption of these self-indulgent treats has a lasting positive effect on mood, beyond their immediate enjoyment.
Furthermore even unplanned “impulse buys” (in moderation) that are done with the purpose of improving mood do not lead to feelings of guilt or regret later on.
Listen to Music: Music is a powerful tool when it comes to emotions. Happy music is an effective distraction from bad feelings. In research people who listened to upbeat, positive music when they were in a poor mood did a better job of repairing their mood and had a more optimistic (remember from earlier?) view of their ability to fix their mood.
For even more tips on using mindset to improve your mood, why not check out our blog on 7 Ways to be More Optimistic.