When my children are grumpy, I ask them if they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. They usually give me a funny look and go on their way. Children are rarely grumpy for long, but I notice my bad moods can fester all day.
Being in a bad mood makes my interactions with others, particularly my family, less than pleasant. After acknowledging that I am in a bad mood, I try to change it. Here are 15 mood changers that have worked for me.
- Take a breath. Taking a few deep breaths to clear my mind helps me diminish angry feelings immediately.
- Dance. Put on some loud music, sing along, and move! If you’re at work, you might want to close your office door and shut the blinds. If you're at home, grab your kids and show off your moves.
- Try dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate. Savoring a square of extra dark chocolate is a special treat that always makes me happy. Dark chocolate is known to stimulate endorphins and improve your mood.
- Take a five minute time out. Leaving a frustrating situation and taking 5 minutes to calm down and refocus can change your mood. My kids understand the concept of time outs, so I tell them I need one if I’m feeling too grumpy.
- Choose music. Put on some soft or soothing music and your heart rate will drop. Classical, folk and movie soundtracks all work for me.
- Grab some water. Sometimes I feel grumpy because I’m dehydrated. Downing a tall glass of water often clears my head and helps me to recharge.
- Find fresh air. No matter what the weather, a few minutes outside will definitely improve your mood. Leave a tense afternoon at the office and take a 10 minute walk. Step outside to your porch or deck and just observe nature. Let your bad mood float away on the wind.
- Call a friend. My sister and I have a running joke called, “The Complaint Hotline.” We use the hotline as a way to vent about frustrating situations and leave them behind. I know when she calls asking for the complaint hotline that she just needs a minute to talk, and I’m always willing to listen.
- Laugh. Find something funny and try to laugh off a bad mood. Watch silly videos on YouTube, read a comic book or tickle a toddler. A few minutes of laughing will elevate your spirits.
- Get a hug. Although sometimes I don’t like to be touched when I’m in a bad mood, a hug can go a long way to help you feel happier.
- Freshen up. Bad moods make me want to spend the day in bed. Unfortunately, like most people, I can’t go back to bed. Taking a shower, eating a healthful breakfast and getting ready for the day can restart my day. If your bad mood strikes mid-day, take a minute to splash water on your face, chew some gum and smile at yourself in the mirror.
- Snack time. My son is notorious for being in a terrible mood when he is hungry. If you’re not sure what is causing your bad mood, try snacking on something crunchy. Nuts and veggies are good options.
- Raise your heart rate. You may have to literally pick yourself up to feel good. I love to pound out a few fast miles of running if I’m feeling uptight. If you don’t have time for a run, try a minute of jumping jacks or a 5-minute circuit of squats and push-ups. Change the way your body feels and your mind and mood will follow.
- Think of others. Distract yourself from grumpy feelings by doing something kind for someone else. Send a text to a sibling, clean up a mess you didn’t make or smile at a stranger. Service always helps me feel better.
- Acknowledge your mood, change your focus. If you can, try to figure out what’s causing your bad mood. Then, mentally dismiss it and focus on something else. Getting involved in a task will at least distract you from feeling bad.
Bad moods happen. Don’t let stress or grumpiness derail your day. Try one of these bad mood busters the next time you’re feeling out of sorts. Soon you’ll be smiling!
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.