6 Ways to Snap Out of a Bad Mood
This article also appeared on Yoganonymous.com.
Have you ever heard about muscle testing?
It’s an applied kinesiology strength experiment where you hold out your arms parallel to the floor and try to resist as someone pushes down on them.
Gabrielle Bernstein speaks about this in her book, Add More ~Ing to Your Life, noting that she conducts this experiment on a member of her audience during her speaking seminars. She does this twice: The first time she asks the volunteer to focus on a positive thought, and next, a negative one. Gabrielle reports that each time she conducts this experiment, the individual is able to resist more pressure when focusing on positive thoughts versus negative ones.
This muscle-testing experiment shows that your mental state does affect your health and wellbeing. When you think positively, you make yourself mentally and physically stronger.
So what should you do the next time you’re “stuck” in a negative frame of mind? Snap out of it—here's how:
6 Ways to Snap Out of a Bad Mood
1. Connect with inspirational content.
Listen, read, or watch something that inspires you—this is the best way to refresh your mindset and step out of negativity. When you connect with content you enjoy, your body’s energy shifts into a more positive frame. Your shoulders might lighten, your forehead might soften, and your stress will start to dissolve away.
Need a place to start? Check out this TedTalk: How to Find and Do Work You Love, by Scott Dinsmore.
2. Take a breath.
Don’t vent—breathe. According researchers at the University of Arkansas, “Expressing anger does not reduce aggressive tendencies and likely makes it worse.” So instead of focusing on your negative feelings, channel your energy into the basic practice of breathing.
Try a technique from kundalini yoga called "breath of fire:" Close your mouth, take four short breaths out of your nose, and inhale to a count of four. Do this for 1 to 2 minutes, or longer if you'd like. This practice refreshes your nervous system, oxygenates your blood, pushes out toxin deposits in your lungs, and improves the digestive system (How? The deep breathing pumps your diaphragm, which gives your organs a nice internal massage).
3. Engage in creative activities.
Take your mind off your mood and turn on your creativity. By engaging in creative activities, you’re giving your brain a break from your worries and as a bonus, the cathartic activity will boost your mood.
Painting, singing, coloring, and crafting origami are easy ways to express your creativity.
4. Practice positive affirmations.
Lisa Legault, a researcher at Clarkson University, says “Self-affirmation reduces [external] threat[s] and improves performance.” In other words, self-affirmations can make you feel comfortable about yourself as an individual and increase your confidence, resulting in better performance in evaluative settings.
Examples of self-affirmations: “I have beautiful ideas” or “My voice is powerful.”
5. Take a meditation break.
Research published in the journal Health Psychology found that meditating reduces the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your brain. So set aside your agenda, and take your bad mood to your meditation block. Bring a notepad with you to write down any insights that come to you; these will serve as your tools to happiness.
Need some help? Try this grounding meditation.
6. Create an action plan.
Write down the things that are upsetting you. Do you see any patterns or overarching themes? Write them down. From there, focus on two problems you want to elimate and generate an action plan for each to rework or let go of the situation. Your strategy may include exercising, traveling, or anything you see fit that may fix your issue. Plug these small steps into your calendar with an alarm reminder, this will make you more likely to stay on track and elminate the culprit of your bad mood. If you find you keep hitting snooze, remember, you're working toward a real opportunity to be happier.
But listen, there’s no way you’re going to be happy 100 percent of the time, and that is okay. What isn’t okay is chronic unhappiness. So if you or someone you love is chronically unhappy, use the tools above to snap out of it, and achieve a more positive mindset.