Snap out of it! Check out some strategies that work
By Barbara Pierce
“Yesterday I was in a grumpy mood,” admitted Jennifer Bernstone of Rome when I called her. “Normally I’m not grumpy.”
Personal Trainer Bernstone operates a Music and Wellness Studio in Rome, where she offers fitness classes, personal training, music and acting lessons.
We’ve all been there — even people who are normally cheerful like Bernstone. We all get into a bad, grumpy mood once in a while. Usually they don’t last. It’s not a good place to be and it doesn’t feel good for the people around us either.
The best way to get out of a bad mood varies from person to person, but here are some strategies you might try:
— Figure out what’s causing your funk. Bernstone knew right away what caused her grumpy mood: “I hadn’t worked out that morning like I usually do. My body was used to the dose of endorphins every morning and when I missed it, I was in a bad mood all day.”
Don’t just wait for the dark cloud to lift. Identify the source and address the problem.
Sometimes the answer may be an easy fix, like you need to work out or you’re hungry or lonely. Or you may find that there is a bigger reason behind your mood that has no “quick fix.” If the cause of your bad mood is a bigger problem or situation than you can figure out by yourself, find a therapist who can help you work through it.
Get off that couch!
— Move your body: Bernstone knows for a fact that you can beat a bad mood with exercise. Not necessarily a full-blown work out, but just get moving. Even a walk around your neighborhood will perk you up. Anything that elevates your heart rate and causes your body to release endorphins will improve your mood. Most people experience an improved mood within five minutes of moving.
“Even my husband notices,” added Bernstone. “When I’m grumpy he says ‘Go work out!’ Movement makes me happy, especially if it becomes part of your life. We all take a shower every day and we eat every day. So find time to move every day.”
A walk outside can improve your mood quickly. In addition to getting exercise, it breaks you out of your current environment, which can “shock” your senses into a new mood. Being outdoors in nature has been shown to improve moods for many people.
— Talk it out. Simply talking with a friend about what has put you in a foul mood will often make you feel many times better. If you can’t get together with someone in person, try Skyping with someone you trust won’t bring you further down. A video chat can make you feel as though you are really spending time with someone, and you can have a more engaged conversation than text chats offer.
Consider that you may be in a bad mood because you feel isolated. Spending time by yourself and only communicating with others through screens can make you feel as though you’re alone. Talking on the phone and having a two-way conversation can improve your mood quickly.
— “Music most definitely helps,” recommends Bernstone. “Even for my 5-year-old daughter. She can be ‘flipping out,’ then a few minutes later she’s happy after she starts singing. Singing gets her back to her happy-go-lucky self. Adults are no different.”
We all have our favorite music; listening to your favorites will help draw you out of your mood and get you back on track.
— Make yourself laugh. Laughing can actually change the chemistry in your brain and that will override other feelings like depression and anger. Things that can make you laugh may include talking to a friend who is funny, watching a funny YouTube clip or a funny TV show, or reading something funny.
Even a smile helps. You know that people smile when they are happy. But did you know that smiling can actually help make you feel happier? Acting happy with good posture and a big smile can actually boost your mood; your thoughts and feelings respond to the action of smiling.
Depressed people have a hard time smiling. Researchers discovered that when they hold a pencil between their teeth, which forces them to have a fake smile, their brains released feel-good endorphins. Our brain doesn’t know the difference between a fake smile and a real smile. So fake smile if you aren’t up to a real one.
If you’ve been in a bad mood for a while — several months — and it just won’t lift, it could be a type of depression, as irritability is a symptom of depression. Talk with your health care provider about whether you could be depressed.