5 Ways to Shift Your Mood
We all get there sometimes. And it seems like our COVID situation is making it more likely for us to be there. I call them “funky mood days.” You know that feeling that comes over you when things are not going as you expected. Your patience is worn thin, and it seems like the whole world is out to irritate you.
When I was much younger, these days would catch me off guard. When I least expected it, I would wake up in a funky mood. And because I am generally an upbeat and cheerful person, I would become even more upset that fact that I had a funky mood. Of course, that didn’t make it better.
After a few years of consistently dealing with the ups and downs of those days, I kicked into achiever mode and decided that I needed a plan. Instead of letting those days control me, I was going to manage them. And so, I developed a strategy for dealing with them. The next time you are feeling down, try one of these activities.
Create a “Fire It Up” Playlist
Science has proven that you can use music to change your mood. Anyone who has ever been to a live musical performance can attest to the powerful emotions that music can evoke. Why wouldn’t you use this knowledge to your advantage?
Put together your motivational playlist. You can do this with songs or videos. The key focus should be positivity. You want this playlist to inspire you, not deflate you. Stay away from things that make you sad or invoke bad memories. Ask yourself, “How do I feel after listening to (or watching) this?” If it is anything negative, take it out of your list.
Keep this playlist somewhere that you can easily access — I suggest using an app on your phone. Whenever you feel that funky mood coming on, don’t hesitate to push play and change your focus.
Change Your Focus
“What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.” — Robin S. Sharma
If you want to change your mood, you will need to start by changing your mind. And changing your mind begins with focus. I once heard someone say that worry is using imagination in the wrong direction. I have found that to be true.
One of the biggest traps is focusing on things over which you have no control. Shift your focus to things that are within your control. For example, I can’t control the economy of the nation, but I can control my own budget and spending habits.
Focusing on what you can do will help you see what you can do. And once you see what you can do, you can put a plan into place to do it. This will empower you. And feeling empowered is an excellent way to get past a funky mood.
Take a Nap
Once again, science is helping us see that we have more control over our mood and thoughts than we think. Let’s take the subject of naps as an example.
Medical professionals now realize the critical part that sleep plays in overall health. And the sad truth is that most modern folks are not getting enough of it.
My mother taught me something important. Whenever she saw me frustrated or cranky, she would say, “Go lie down and take a nap. Things will be much better when you wake up.” It wasn’t until I was much older when this started making sense. And even when I didn’t feel much better, I would always awake with a new thought and a sense of hope.
So, whenever you feel that funky mood, get your favorite pillow and find a quiet, comfortable spot. Set your timer for 30 minutes (it will take a few minutes to settle in) and take a nap. Even if you can’t fall asleep, close your eyes and lie there, taking deep breaths. Your body will thank you.
Get in Touch with Nature
Scientists are studying another strange phenomenon of our modern era. If you live in a city or a neatly kept suburban neighborhood, you most likely are not seeing this one thing — tree canopies. Recent research is proving that green spaces are not just good for the environment (filling our atmosphere with oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide — a major greenhouse gas). Results are showing that people reap a host of benefits from surrounding themselves with nature.
Yet, what most people do to cope with stress doesn’t involve any type of plant life. We surround ourselves with digital equipment, people, food, entertainment, anything but nature. So, the next time you are feeling that funky mood, I recommend that you locate a local green space where you can hang out. Better if it is within walking distance of your workplace or home.
Intentionally spend 15 minutes there watching the space around you. Do NOT spend that time staring at your phone! Turn it off while you are there. Unplug and unwind while enjoying the beauty that is nature. And by all means, look up at the sky. If you are lucky, you will be sitting beneath a tree canopy for shade. Stare into it. Ponder it. You will walk away refreshed and a lot calmer, no matter what is going on in your world.
I didn’t learn how to breathe until I was 40. Did you laugh? Well, it is true. At the prime age of 40, I decided to become a runner. While self-training for a half-marathon, I encountered the painful side stitch. If you have experienced this, I don’t need to say anymore. For those who haven’t, just imagine what it would feel like if someone were stabbing you repeatedly in your rib cage. Yes, it is painful.
Not to be defeated, I researched why this happens. And I found out what you already know if you are a runner: side stitches are caused by improper breathing during intense physical activity. I wasn’t breathing correctly. My breathing was shallow and rapid. The cure? Learn how to breathe in a deep and measured way. So, I did. And that started me on my journey of learning how to breathe.
I eventually added yoga to my routine to get better at breathing. Yoga is a great way to learn how to breathe. But you don’t have to learn yoga or take-up running to begin taking deeper breaths. Find a quiet spot, sit erect in a comfortable chair (no slouching), and inhale deeply through your nose while counting. Exhale through your mouth like you are blowing out a candle. Go real slow. Try counting to 10 while slowly inhaling, hold 3 seconds, and then count to 10 while slowly exhaling.
There are different methods for deep breathing. I encourage you to experiment and find one that works for you. The key thing is to begin noticing your breath. For example, I didn’t realize until I started this deep breathing journey that I tend to hold my breath when I am thinking deeply about something. Now, I have triggers that remind me to breathe — deep thinking and loss of breath don’t mix well (less oxygen going to the brain). Try some deep breathing and notice how much better you feel.
I hope that you have found some of these strategies to be helpful. Of course, nothing is a magic cure for your problems, but reducing your stress level can support you in more effectively dealing with whatever comes your way.
I wish you peace on your journey.