by: E.B. Johnson
Our moods and emotions play a big role in personalities and the way in which we connect with and present to others. While our emotions come and go in fleeting moments, our moods are all-encompassing and pervasive. They shape us and create a general state of being that can be either good or bad; pleasant or unpleasant.
How much do your moods affect you? When you’re in a bad mood, does it seem to leak all throughout the rest of your relationships? That’s because our moods are tied tightly into who we are, and they have a direct impact on our health, the way we form connections, and even the way we see ourselves. Living a happy life means learning how to master our moods and control them before they have a chance to undermine our opportunities.
Our moods shouldn’t be taken lightly.
As humans, we live each day with a complex range of emotions and states of being that can be confusing (and unknown) even to us. Our emotions arise as a reaction to what’s going on around us. Life moves quickly forward, and good and bad things happen to us. Inside, we respond with an array of feelings which can then add up to create a general state of being. This “mood” is important, but so many of us dismiss our moods as worthless. They are anything but, though, and highly valuable to our life and relationships.
Our moods and our emotions are not the same thing, though they are closely related. Emotions are direct, fleeting things that result from a specific stimulus which we can name. Over time, these different emotions can come together to create a mood — a much more all-encompassing state of being that goes as far as to impact our self-esteem and personal beliefs.
Living in a state of perpetual bad moods leaves you feeling exhausted, raw, and alone. Likewise, focusing on positive moods can enhance your connection with others and help you identify new opportunities. By controlling these states, we can consciously shift our emotions and gain more awareness when it comes to how they impact us and others. Transforming our lives isn’t always about making huge changes. Often, it’s more about learning how to control your emotions and the way you think.
How moods can undermine our flow.
How seriously do you take your moods? When you’re in a “funk,” do you ignore it until it goes away? Or do you confront how you’re feeling and resolve it? The longer you ignore your emotions, the more intense and complex they become. They can even take a serious toll on your health and your interpersonal relationships.
Did you know that your bad mood can have a direct iimpact on your health? Negative states of mind and feeling increase the amount of stress we feel, which creates hormones in the body like Cortisol. This stress hormone (part of the flight-or-fight response) can lead to weight gain, interruptions in sleep, and even cognitive disruptions and increased feelings of anxiety and hopelessness.
Walking around in a bad or negative mood is one of the biggest reasons we find ourselves facing increased conflict in our lives. The irritations we feel within have a funny way of manifesting in our outside relationships. Perhaps you and your partner have started arguing more, or you find that you no longer see eye-to-eye with friends and family on the things that used to be no problem at all.
Because conflict increases as our stress, sadness, or anger increases, we can find that our interpersonal relationships take a direct hit. Beyond fighting with those you love more often, a bad mood might also drive you to shut down or pull away from them in equally toxic ways. Not only does this isolate you, it also erodes the trust that your partner and friends place in you as a stable part of their lives.
Collapsing mental health
The longer you allow your bad moods to hang over your life, the more likely you are to find yourself dealing with collapsing mental health. Bad moods equal a major increase in negative feelings like hopelessness and anxiety. It can also create extremely negative thought patterns which become internalized into toxic and self-destructive narratives. Shifting our moods isn’t just about making others comfortable. It’s about protecting our wellbeing.
Lack of communication
Many find themselves closing up whenever a bad mood sets in over their life. Rather than talking things out with those they trust, the compounded negative emotions cause them to turn inward. Some do this out of a sense of guilt, or the fear of judgement. They begin to avoid those they love and shut down when they should be opening up. This snowballs into a total lack of communication which further undermines relationships.
You can think of bad moods a bit like blinders. They have a way of giving us tunnel vision and keeping us from seeing the good things that are all around us. You begin to miss out on opportunities and chances to grow and improve your life. Your confidence erodes and you then get caught in a self-affirming trap of being stuck in a place you don’t want to be.
Negative thoughts are extremely toxic and — when not dealt with — can turn into moods and general beliefs about ourselves. When you exist in a bad emotional state, you get more negative feedback from the world around you. This causes you to see more of the same, which in turn limits your outlook or what you see as the possibilities when it comes to life and love. In short, bad moods destroy your optimism.
The best ways to shift your mood quickly.
Your moods don’t have to control you. You don’t have to be at the mercy of their whims, or a victim of their chaos. It’s possible to shift your emotions when you’re in a bad mood, and it’s possible to do it quickly. Practice makes perfect. The more often you utilize the following techniques — the easier it will become to change your moods.
1. Reappraise the situation
Perspective is important when it comes to how we feel about ourselves and any given situation. There is a big difference between reality and how we perceive that reality. By working consciously to shift our perspective, we can (often) dramatically shift our mood or the general feeling we have at any given time. It’s all about detaching and allowing yourself to see things from a different, expanded angle.
If you’re in a bad mood and in a place that wears you down, try to reappraise the situation. A bad mood often forces us to see the worst in a situation. What would happen if you flipped that narrative upside down? Rather than seeing only the bad things, what would happen if you decided to see the silver-lining?
Shift your perspective to shift your mood. Take a step back from whatever funk you’re in, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Clear your mind for a few seconds, then imagine you’re seeing everything from someone else’s point of view. Detach your emotions and detach all the negative thoughts and expectations. Find one positive takeaway and focus on it. Can’t find a positive? Focus on anything else in your life or your environment which you can be grateful for.
2. Take action where you can
One of the best ways to shift our moods quickly can be taking control of ourselves in a situation. It feels good to be in control and can be comforting to emotions that feel like they’re spinning out into chaos. If you’re sinking into a dark place emotionally, stop yourself before the slide gets out of hand. Take action and be proactive about changing the things around you that you have power over.
Change the environment if you can’t change your thoughts about it. This can be done in both the short term and the long term; big picture and small picture. Remove yourself from a situation for a few minutes, or forever. It comes down to what you need in order to be authentically happy and fulfilled within your life.
If you’re in a job that leaves you so miserable you’re drowning in rotten moods, consider making a change. Until you can do that, set boundaries immediately (no more working overtime) and then sit down and make a list of the steps you need to take in order to make a shift. Action doesn’t have to be big, it just needs to be a physical reminder that you’re in charge of your own life.
3. Distract your mind (and your body)
There can be no denying the power of distraction when it comes to shifting our moods quickly and effectively. Whether you are sad or angry, distracting your mind can help you to process complex emotions without being caught up in the headiness of it all. You can engage in mental pursuits, or just push the body a little further than it’s used to in the gym. There’s no right or wrong way to distract yourself (as long as it’s safe and healthy).
Whenever you feel a bad mood setting in, or you notice that your emotions are becoming challenging, distract yourself before the worst behaviors set in. Go outside and take a walk. Call a friend, or even take a few minutes out of your schedule to play with your dog.
In the moments when the thoughts become too great to distract yourself from, physical exertion is a great way to prevent an “amping-up” of your emotions. If you are someone who can become completely overwhelmed by your negative moods, do something physical with your body. Wear yourself out. Make your body so tired that it doesn’t have the ability to fall into fits, or lose control like it usually does. Go for a run, ring up a workout partner, or go for a longer hike than normal.
4. Find a way to laugh about it
There is so much healing power in humor, and it’s especially effective and combating and changing negative moods for us. When you can find a way to laugh about something, it alleviates a lot of the pressure that leads to feelings like hopelessness and anxiety. It also allows you to detach emotionally and see things from a different (and often more comfortable) light.
Are you in a funk? Are you angry about something? Or just beginning to believe that it’s all pointless? Find the comedy in it. The world we live in is an absurd one. While there are absolutely things to be upset about, there is so much ridiculousness out there to laugh at too.
Find some way to laugh at yourself or situation. Don’t laugh at the expense of someone, but know that it’s absolutely okay to find incompetence and failure hilarious. We get things wrong sometimes. Others get things wrong even more often. Life is a just a culmination of experiences, good and bad. Make fun of them, and the absurdity of being so worried about things that are so impermanent.
5. Gain more gratitude
Gratitude is, perhaps, one of the most powerful ways in which we can change or shift a mood that is making us feel low. It’s easy to lose sight of the things we appreciate. We’re living through stressful times and we seem more divided from the things that matter than ever before. When you’re surrounded by negativity, it can be hard to hold on to gratitude. Still, we must dig deep and tap into it if we want to go from a bad mood to a great one.
The moment you feel yourself backsliding into a bad place, plant your feet and take a deep breath. Close the door on the negative thoughts immediately and look for the things around you that you’re grateful for. A job that provides during the pandemic? A family that loves you? A partner who supports you?
What means the most to you? What things in your life make you happy when you come home, or make you feel as though you are in some way valued. Again, there’s no right or wrong answers here. We all love and value different things. We all find happiness in different ways, different places, and different people. Gain more gratitude if you want to shift your mood. Don’t let the negative thoughts in. Replace them with the things you appreciate.
Putting it all together…
Moods and emotions are a core part of who we are as people, and they can have a big impact on our health and relationships. Leaving a foul mood unaddressed is like leaving milk to curdle. You create far more work for yourself and waste valuable opportunities. We have to learn to master our emotions — and our moods — so we can live whole, happy lives.
Stop allowing a bad mood to undermine your happiness. Reappraise the situation and shift your perspective on things. Sometimes, getting a different view is all we need to get out of the “funk” and back into the game. Take action where you can and don’t allow yourself to be a spectator to your own emotions. If you can change something and make yourself feel better — do it. If not, distract your mind (and your body) with exercise and mental activities that keep you engaged and focused on inward improvement. Laughter too is a great way to change a bad mood. Find something in your situation to laugh about, and if you can’t watch a funny film or spend time with the most hysterical person in your life. When all else fails, look for gratitude, and hold on to all the positives that exist all around you.