Here’s how to ditch your bad mood
Your spouse spent too much time in the bathroom this morning. That car cut you off, and you had to slam on the brakes on the way in to work. Your boss asked if you can finish a project over the weekend.
Any of these small things may be behind your bad mood. But why do you often let brief interactions like these ruin your entire day?
“We’re more likely to let small things negatively affect our day if we are also experiencing other vulnerability factors,” says Nicole Cherek, a licensed professional counselor with Aurora Behavioral Health in South Milwaukee, Wis. “Vulnerabilities can include, but are not limited to, lack of sleep, hunger, physical illness and/or chronic pain, financial problems, work stressors or interpersonal stressors.”
She says the more stressors or vulnerability factors present, the more difficult it can be to regulate your emotions. And that’s not all that’s contributing to your mood.
“Our genetics also play an integral role in our ability to regulate emotions. Ruminating thoughts and anxiety make it difficult to let things go, too,” Cherek says. “And people have the tendency to engage in all-or-nothing thinking when emotionally dysregulated.”
So how can we improve our mood in these situations? Cherek offers the following tips:
- Be proactive. Plan ahead to tackle tasks or things that you know in advance are going to be difficult for you. Start with baby steps. It feels good to take things off our to-do lists.
- Engage in activities that are going to increase pleasant things, joy and self-confidence.
- Use distraction techniques that are self-soothing and self-validating. Play a game on your phone, take a bath, go for a walk, talk to a friend. Be kind to yourself and practice non-judgmental thoughts.
- Identify sources of gratitude in your life. In the face of frustration and despair, gratitude has the power to energize and provide hope.
“It’s important to remind ourselves that our mood is temporary,” she says. “No feeling lasts forever. Remember – you’re human, and it’s normal to have bad days.”
Cherek also recommends that if bad moods occur more frequently than good, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.