So, the storm clouds are hovering over you today. Maybe something’s gone wrong. Maybe something’s hurt you. Maybe nothing’s happened at all, but you’ve got a heavy mood sitting on your chest. How do you deal with a bad mood? We’re not here to fix your mood, we’re here to learn to work with it, to treat it with care and get to the core of the issue so you can free yourself from the weight of it. Being here, reading this, is a hell of a step towards doing just that. Find somewhere cosy, grab a hot cup of joe and let’s unpack this together.
“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow” – Maya Angelou
Important! If you’re having consistent low moods that are overwhelming or affecting your day-to-day life, it’s important and really beneficial to seek professional help. Find help here.
Recognise what might be wrong
This could be anything from a big stressor in your life or that you didn’t sleep too well. Sometimes, you might not be able to really find an answer, and that’s okay too, our moods are temperamental, sometimes the storms spring up from nowhere. But ramble your feelings to a friend, write everything out in your journal. Processing the information somewhere outside of yourself will help you see it in a new light, piece things together and make connections you may never have spotted otherwise. Another’s perspective can also give you new ideas and spot things you’ve otherwise grown blind to.
Sharing will likely be difficult. Especially in a bad mood, exposing yourself to someone or even on a page to yourself can be really scary, your mind might be built with heavy defences. But with time, patience and practice, like anything else, the process becomes easier and you’ll see benefits for yourself.
Searching for a reason, too, will get your mind looking objectively at your feelings (more on this later), shaking the pessimistic fog that can accompany a bad mood. Like with a friend, trying to figure out what’s wrong is a way to show you care, that you want to help – try it often enough and you’ll find your mind slowly unlocking to you.
Take responsibility for your pain
One of the first and biggest steps to recovery from anything is admitting exactly what’s wrong. When you’re having a bad day, it can feel as though you’re weighed down by an invisible force, like the world’s sitting on your shoulders. Shed that weight by talking. If you don’t know what’s wrong, start talking about what feels off and ramble until you find an answer. If you do know, let that issue know it’s heard by recognising it – only then can you really deal with it.
Owning up to your pain isn’t an easy thing to do. Bad moods can bring you to your knees, but I can’t describe to you how empowering it feels to stand again. Recognising your hurt and sharing it with others is a big ask, but it’s a life-changing skill. When we start taking responsibility for our pain, naming it and owning it, we free ourselves from feelings of guilt, you recognise the situation for what it is and suddenly we’re powerful, looking pain in the eye, figuring it out. You have everything you need to work with it (not against it!) to help yourself inside of you, it’s just a matter of making the connections.
Take care of yourself
Sometimes the world really kicks you in the teeth. On those days, it’s important to remember that ‘helping yourself’ doesn’t always mean getting back on track, improving your mood or riding out your day like nothing’s happened. Our minds and bodies need love, care and attention, they go through a lot for us on a daily basis and sometimes you just need to give them a break.
If you’re having a really really bad day, treat yourself to something small that’ll make you smile. Give yourself the evening free of chores. Buy that overpriced coffee to give you a little boost. If you do this from a place of caring, as you would do for a friend after a bad day, it’s a really healthy way to build a loving relationship with yourself. What’s less healthy is channelling your negative feelings into three hours and hundreds of pounds of retail therapy. Find the balance.
Attend the pity party (just not for too long)
A friend once told me to only ever let my pity party last an hour and I firmly stick by that rule. If you’re mad at the world, if you’re fed up and feeling sorry for yourself, sometimes it’s healthy to indulge those feelings, to write your angry letter to the universe, to have a good cry, to curl up in bed and curse the world. But after a while, to avoid victimising yourself, you’re going to need to pull yourself back out again, having let go of those feelings. Recognise and accept your feelings, but do not succumb to them. You’re strong enough to do that.
Learn your thought patterns
When we have a bad day, we can subconsciously put on grey-tinted glasses to see the world through. Suddenly everything feels negative, like the world’s out to get us, and nothing is going right. When a bad mood takes over, you might not feel excited about the things you love and things that wouldn’t usually anger or upset you can create overpowering feelings in you.
Learning your thought spirals is a tricky skill to pick up, but with practice, you can become practised at becoming an observer in your own mind and filtering the pessimistic thoughts from the realistic ones. Try as often as you can to question what you’re thinking. Reflect on your thoughts once your mood’s improved to try and assess the thoughts you had whilst feeling down, try to listen to others when they question your thinking (know that this is difficult and your pride will fight, but with time and care, you can learn to calm it).
One of the most important lessons I learned in therapy was the truth that our emotions are not who we are, they are physical sensations we experience. I use this fact to ground me in a negative mood, to remind myself what’s real and what I really believe in.
Do what you love & ride it out
I touched on it briefly earlier, but when you find yourself in a bad mood, treat yourself like you would a friend. You don’t need to force yourself into a happy mood. Simply do what you love to do, remind yourself of the good around you, speak to, listen or watch people who inspire you, gently ground yourself and treat yourself with compassion as you stand up and continue going about your day. Some moods simply need to be ridden out.
Learning how to deal with a bad mood is a skill that if you consciously try, you’ll perfect over your life. Bad moods happen to everyone, but giving yourself the power to deal with them in a healthy, compassionate way will make all the difference to your life.
Smile, come rain or shine. Love, Ella-Rose xx