25 Ways to Stop a Bad Mood in Its Tracks

“What is laughter? …It is the glorious sound of a soul waking up!”


Every once in a while I get into a funk. As Van Morrison sings, “Mama said there’d be days like this.”

Sometimes it’s because I haven’t gotten enough sleep. Other times I’m at a turning point that has wrangled me out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it’s simply because it has rained five days in a row.

Even though bad moods are something we all experience, when they happen to us, they can get downright personal. We might believe a bad mood means something is wrong with us, or feel alone in our crabbiness.

I believe difficult emotions are often our intuition trying to get our attention with a very important message. (Check out my article How to Get Out of An Emotional Rut for a quick process to help you decipher a downward spiral.)

Other times, however, we may find ourselves nursing our feelings of hurt, anxiety, fear, anger or blame. Negative emotions can be very seductive. We complain and they grow, taking on a life of their own.

Before we know it, we find ourselves clinging to runaway thoughts that zoom us toward what seems like an unstoppable pity storm.

Sound familiar? If so, here are some of my favorite strategies for hitting the emergency stop button, and turning that frown upside down.

How to Turn That Frown Upside Down

1. Change your pace.

If you are moving too fast, move slower. Sit down. Rest. If you are moving slowly, take a brisk walk, even if it’s just around your house.

2. Confide in someone you trust.

Sometimes we are so stuck in our emotions we can’t see a solution. Getting it off our chest helps shift the energy, gives us a little breathing space, and can give us a broader point of view. Everyone has had difficult times. Share how you are feeling with someone else.

3. Get physical.

Just make sure whatever you do is safe for you and others. Find a stick and beat a basket, empty box or a pile of pillows (be prepared for them to get ruined!). Go for a sprint in an open field. Punch a punching bag. Jump up and down. Scream. Do whatever you can to get that negative energy out of your body.

4. Write a thank you letter.

This can even take the form of an email or a quick text or voicemail message. Saying thanks for something small that often goes unnoticed can kick off a whole movement of good mood-ism. (Sometimes the thank you letter we most need to write is to ourselves!)

5. Walk in nature.

Pay attention to the small details around you. Try to notice something you have never seen before. Sit in sunlight and feel it on your face. Treat yourself to a blast of vitamin D. Imagine you are a rechargeable battery and the sun is your energy source. You might even create a Miraculous Moment as you do. Here’s how.

6. Make a gratitude list.

Write five things you are grateful for. Next go for 100. Post them on Twitter or Facebook, or simply remind yourself about them over and over again, or share them with a friend. Mention them to friends or loved ones. Put them on post-it notes and decorate your bathroom mirror.

7. Take a nap.

Sometimes our mood drops just because we are over-tired. Set a timer for 15 minutes. REALLY try to sleep. See if you feel better when you wake up.

8. Eat something healthy.

Hunger is an instant mood shifter for the worst. Sometimes we fill up with empty calories, sugar or caffeine that causes an even worse crash later. Try eating a small snack that is healthy and high in protein, like nuts, meat, fruits, vegetables or nut butter and a rice cake.

9. Drink water.

Most of us are perpetually thirsty. Water can re-energize us!

10. Do something to help someone else.

Reaching out to others can remind us that we have the power to make the world a better place, and help us step outside of our bubble of despair. Think about an easy way you can make a difference. Perhaps drop off food to someone living alone, buy someone flowers, run an errand for someone, volunteer at a local charity, help a friend with a carpool and childcare. Or, perhaps just extend an olive branch to someone with whom you’ve had a falling out.

11. Write in a journal.

Be brutally honest about what is real for you in this moment. If you want you can then shred, burn or throw away the pages when you are done.

12. Sing at the top of your lungs.

If you are out and about, don’t let that stop you. Try humming. Blast music and make your house your personal dance floor. If you are driving, play the radio and wiggle to the beat.

13. Take a break.

If you’ve been  worrying or working too hard, you may need a change of scenery. Put down the electronics. Go to a place that makes you happy, maybe a beach, a local park, your backyard, even moving to a favorite room or area in your house. If you are at work, take a 10 minute break and walk to the bathroom or, if your job allows it, a quick break outside. If you can’t go there physically, go on a mind vacation.

14. Research a dream.

Take an Internet break. Plan a vacation, a dream house or partner. Even if it’s just a dream for now, keep your intention focused on what is possible.

15. Accomplish something.

Do one small thing on your to-do list that has been bugging you. Tackling procrastination can be a real mood shifter.

16. Do something creative.

Take some photos. Play an instrument. Write a haiku. Sketch or create a collage. Paint. Get out crayons or magic markers. No time? Set a timer for three minutes and doodle. The end product doesn’t matter. Just play.

17. Clean something.

Clean out your refrigerator or junk drawer. Wash a window or mirror. Keep it small and doable. When you finish, cheer!

18. Make a rough first draft of a plan.

Name whatever is bothering you most and jot some notes on what you could do to make it better. Don’t worry about making it perfect. Just getting it all down on paper can help. If you’re really stuck, ask a friend to listen to your plan or brainstorm a solution with you.

19. Check in with your body.

If your body is feeling stiff, change your position or stretch. Give your body what it needs. Remind yourself that your body is a miracle and treat it that way.

20. Visualize feeling differently.

Close your eyes and imagine, right now, how you want to feel instead. When you open your eyes, act as if it is true. Just pretend. It’s okay to “fake it until you make it.” It just might work!

21. Imagine gold light.

Visualize a healing, loving gold light flowing through the crown of your head and out the bottom of your feet. Let it wash away whatever is bothering you, and take it to the center of the earth to be recycled and transformed into something good.

22. Have a good cry.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is to really give into the emotion. Tears can be very cleansing. Rather than running for an emotion, try owning and moving through it. This guided meditation on feeling difficult emotions may help.

23. Have a good laugh.

Call a friend and reminisce about a funny memory. Watch a funny movie, sitcom, comedian or video clip. Let yourself laugh out loud.

24. Seek inspiration.

Read an inspirational blog or article. Watch an inspiring movie. Read motivational quotes. Listen to a podcast. Re-read a chapter out of a favorite inspirational book. Share what you’ve learned with a friend or post it on social media to inspire others.

25. Smile and breathe deeply.

Tell yourself you are lovable, wonderful, perfect just as you are, and everything is really, really, going to be okay. Because no matter what, you are and it is.

Share a Comment (below)

Have you tried any these techniques? Which works best for you?

Photo credits: cunaplus/Shutterstock; chairoij/Shutterstock

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *