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How to get out of a bad mood, according to experts

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Humor is a part of life, and while it’s normal to feel down at times, it’s never pleasant and probably not how you want to feel for most of your day.

While you can’t just tell yourself to feel better, you can change the thoughts and behaviors that help influence your mood, according to Ruth Ellingsen, clinical assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Oregon.

The first step to changing your bad mood is identifying what kind of mood you’re in, explained Ellingsen.

″[It] sounds simple, but it really involves being aware of our current state,” she said. It’s quite common to ignore our emotions throughout our daily lives, which makes it virtually impossible to improve your mood, Ellingsen added. How can you feel better if you don’t know how you’re feeling?

To determine your mood, Ellingsen said he recommends taking a feel temperature check using what is known as a feel thermometer. She said a feel thermometer has four zones –green (which represents comfortable feelings or a good mood), yellow (which is the next level on the thermometer, indicating that you might feel a little tired, for example), orange (which is another level, so nervous or frustrated) and red (which is very uncomfortable – like feeling sad, angry, or another negative emotion). This easy resource for determining your mood is an excellent tool for gauging your feelings.

Once you know how you’re feeling, you can figure out what to do about it and take steps to control your mood before you hit the red zone, which she says is an emotional state that’s hard to overcome. out of that.

But if you are in the yellow or orange zones, you can easily employ some strategies to change your mood. Here are some ways to do this.

Try breathing exercises.

“The only thing available to us is to use our breathing” out of a bad mood, said Gregory Sullivan, the director of the master’s program in positive coaching and athletic leadership at the University of Missouri.

He recommends trying one of two breathing exercises the next time you feel sick. One option is the “physiological sigh,” which consists of two quick inhales followed by a long exhalation.

“What it does is remove [carbon dioxide] of our body and makes us feel a little more relaxed,” said Sullivan.

This double breath increases the lung’s ability to fill with air and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the body, Andrew Huberman, professor of neurobiology at Stanford Medicine, told the school’s podcast. According to Huberman, increasing carbon dioxide levels activates our body’s stress response, so being able to expel carbon dioxide also lowers our stress.

And, Sullivan added, breathing affects the body’s vagus nerve and “gets us out of that fight, flight, or freeze mentality.” So that long exhalation helps you to relax.

You could also try the 6-7-8 breathing exercise, which is breathing in through your nose for six seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and breathing out for eight seconds, he noted.

When it comes to breathing exercises, Sullivan said they allow the body to control the mind rather than the mind controlling the mind. And “it diverts our focus from what might be bothering us,” she added.

Turn to fitness.

You’ve probably heard many times that exercise is good for your mental health, and the same goes for helping you out of a bad mood, according to Sarah Sarkis, executive coach and senior director of performance psychology at Exos, a company corporate wellness.

“Move your body for 15 [to] 20 minutes,” Sarkis said. “You will get an endorphin and adrenaline rush, which can help us quickly change perspective.”

When you’re not feeling well, switch to a favorite exercise routine like running, yoga, tennis, or indoor cycling. If you’re in a bad mood, you don’t want to put more pressure on yourself by doing a workout you don’t like.

Exercise can help you refocus your energy and get out of a bad mood.

Westend61 via Getty Images

Exercise can help you refocus your energy and get out of a bad mood.

Focus on others instead of yourself.

Taking the focus off yourself is a great way to lift your spirits, Sullivan said. He added that one of the early contributors to positive psychology, Chris Peterson, emphasized the importance of other people when it comes to your mental health. Helping or building relationships with other people will only make you feel better (and help break a bad mood).

“The simple thing would be to decide that during the day you are going to do some random acts of kindness or [ask] a co-worker if they needed any help,” Sullivan said.

So if you’re in a bad mood, try reaching out to a friend who is going through a tough time or donating items to an organization that needs support.

Sullivan added that taking the focus off yourself is one of the most powerful ways to defeat a bad mood.

Spend some time outside.

Study after study has found that nature is good for your mental health – spending time outdoors can lower stress levels, lower anxiety and generally just put a smile on your face.

“Nature can be medicine if we use it that way, and going out and changing your perspective can sometimes change your mood quickly,” added Sarkis.

She said adding music to her time off could be even more beneficial and can “iinterrupt the cognitive cycle that sets in very quickly when we are ‘in a bad mood’”.

Practice gratitude.

“The most powerful and useful of all positive emotions is gratitude – being grateful just makes us happier,” said Sullivan, “and being happy and in a bad mood is certainly incompatible behavior.”

To tune into your inner gratitude, think of two or three things in your life you are grateful for, he said. It doesn’t have to be big things, it could be something as simple as the smell of a new candle or the weather.

You can practice gratitude at the beginning or end of the day, although Sullivan says he prefers to do it at the end of the day.

“Thinking about gratitude helps me sleep,” he said. Bonus: sleep is an important tool for avoiding bad moods.

Stay in the moment.

“A lot of times when we’re in a bad mood, we’re ruminating about something that happened in the past or worrying about something in the future,” Ellingsen said.

“ANDexperts believe that about 90% of the things we worry about never happen,” explained Sullivan. Therefore, most of those worries that contribute to your mood are usually unhelpful.

“We can intentionally do something to bring ourselves into the present moment, whether it’s taking a deep breath or just tuning in our senses to really pull ourselves away from what’s happening. [we’re] worrying,” said Ellingsen.

That is, practicing mindfulness at these times is a good idea, which could mean doing the breathing exercises mentioned above or trying meditation.

When you're in a bad mood, deep breathing and meditation are great ways to stay present and let go of your worries.
When you’re in a bad mood, deep breathing and meditation are great ways to stay present and let go of your worries.

Sullivan added that another way to get rid of worrisome thoughts about the past or the future is to discuss it with yourself. So let’s say you’re nervous about an upcoming conversation with your boss. Instead of giving in to these thoughts, question why you feel the way you do. Also, remember past conversations with your boss that went well. This can help calm you down.

If you’re upset, get an ice pack.

According to Ellingsen, you can do things that play to your body chemistry and kind of trick yourself into being calm.

“One thing that’s actually quite effective, especially if you’re really angry… ice pack and put it on your forehead,” she said.

There’s something about the physical cooling effect that brings a sense of relaxation, Ellingsen added.

Focus on your muscles.

Ellingsen said you can also try progressive muscle relaxation. to help improve your mood.

To do this, you practice tensing and then relaxing certain parts of your body—so you can start by making a fist and then relaxing, or shrugging your shoulders and then letting go, she said.

“Again, this can put your body into relaxation mode,” noted Ellingsen.

And don’t dismiss your unpleasant emotions – they’re normal.

“While getting out of a bad mood can be really helpful in the short term, learning to accept our emotions, both positive and negative, can be the best long-term strategy,” Sullivan said.

“Positive psychology is the study of well-being, and while being happy is part of well-being, well-being doesn’t mean we’re happy all the time,” he added.

According to Sullivan, a fundamental aspect of well-being is the ability to accept the full range of human emotions – from excitement and joy to boredom and pain.

“It is also important to note how ephemeral [our emotions] it is; they come and go,” Sullivan said, “knowing it’s a big step in dealing with bad moods and negative emotions.”

It means that even if you feel upset, you won’t feel that way forever.

What’s more, Sullivan said that we are genetically predisposed to negativity, dating back to our caveman ancestors, who used negativity to protect themselves from real threats.

To some extent, this still keeps us safe today, “but sometimes we can be overwhelmed by this negative bias. Finding a level of emotional harmony is important, and that’s where positive psychology and interventions created through research can really help with that,” said Sullivan.

In the spirit of listening to your mood, Sarkis added that “humor doesn’t have to hijack your day if you practice… how to get through your mood in an emotionally healthy way.”

That might mean following some of the practices above, like breathing exercises, physical conditioning, and general mindfulness, to better prepare you for all the moods — unpleasant or not — that come your way.

While it’s normal to be in a bad mood occasionally, you should be on the lookout for certain warning signs.

Simply getting out of a bad mood is not a reality for some people. “Mood can also be influenced by other psychological factors, such as a diagnosis of a mood disorder,” said Sarkis.

Suppose you feel sad most of the day for at least two weeks. In that case, it’s worth talking to a therapist, Alayna L. Park, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, told HuffPost.

Or, if you’re feeling hopeless or tired or have lost interest in activities you once enjoyed, you might as well find someone to talk to. But then again, this could be more than just a “bad mood” and cannot be fixed with the above tips alone.

If you want help from a professional, you can use Psychology Today’s online database to find a therapist near you.