Plenty has been written about how to create long-lasting happiness – that deep joy that weathers even the most tragic circumstances.
This article is not about that. No, this article is about what to do when you wake up in the morning feeling crabby, after you get reamed out by a client or when the dishwasher leaks water all over your new flooring.
If you need a quick pick-me-up, try one of these strategies (after you mop up the water, of course).
1. Get it off your chest
Sometimes, the best way to get out of a foul mood is to connect with a friend or family member.
Texting a friend that you’re upset because you were yelled at by an angry woman in the check-out line takes the situation out of your head. Rather than stewing about it, you’ve done something with it. And hopefully you get some positive feedback from your friend that makes you feel better. Maybe you’ll even end up having a good laugh.
However, a word of warning: Be careful where you vent. Posting on Facebook about your latest woe opens you up for criticism, unsolicited advice or other comments that could leave you feeling worse. Instead, pick a good friend who will listen without making you feel bad.
P.S. Please don’t unload on the same friend all the time.
2. Put your thoughts on paper
Maybe you don’t want to be “that friend” who’s always complaining. Or maybe you don’t have anyone who you think would understand.
The next best option may be to write down what’s going through your head. Write a letter to the person who upset you. Detail why you’re overwhelmed for the day. Craft a prayer, if you’re spiritual.
Once the emotion is out, shred the paper or set it aside to leave the emotional baggage behind as you move forward in your day.
3. Play some tunes
It’s amazing how a little music can be good for the soul. Pull out the iPod, CD player or turn on the radio to turn your day from depressing to delightful.
Don’t just take my word for it. Researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that listening to upbeat music can improve your mood. They used Aaron Copland’s classical tunes for their experiment, but I would guess you could get similar results with Adele, Jimmy Buffett or a gamelan orchestra, for that matter.
Apparently, the key is to tell yourself that you’re going to feel happier while listening to music rather than simply pushing play and hoping the good thoughts come to you.
4. Indulge in a little scent therapy
Aromatherapy is another quick pick-me-up to use on days when you’re in a foul mood. You could sniff some essential oils, if you have them, or light a scented candle if you don’t.
Scent seems to work by triggering emotions and memories, so pick a smell that reminds you of happy times. You may not even have to actually smell the scent to reap the benefits, according to at least one study. Simply anticipating a pleasant odor may be enough to turn your day around.
5. Find a change of scenery
One of my tried and true methods to dispel a rotten mood is to get out of the house. If the weather’s good, going for a walk or spending some time in the sunshine is a sure way to brighten the day.
Of course, now that January has hit, it may be a challenge to head out into the cold in many parts of the country. In that case, head to the library, a coffee shop or bundle up and play in the snow. If you have kids, it will feel like a pain to get them ready and out of the house, but the 30 minutes it takes to get them in the car and off to the playground or playset at the local mall is worth it if it lightens the next 10 hours of your day.
Getting out of the house may distract you from a difficult subject occupying your mind, keep warring children from grinding down your last nerve or otherwise change the course of your day in a way that results in a happier you.
6. Get physical
Changing scenery may help improve mood, in part, because it gets you up and moving.
Exercise has been shown to improve mood in the short-term and potentially ward off depression in the long run. Information on the American Psychological Association website indicates you may begin to feel better in as little as five minutes after moderate exercise.
While you could certainly go to the gym to exercise, it’s not the only way to get the mood-enhancing effect of movement. Doing jumping jacks in the living room or running up and down the stairs can be just as good at turning your frown upside down.
7. Go back to bed
When all else fails, head back to bed. Seriously.
Sometimes, when the day seems unsalvageable, you need a do-over. Put cartoons on for the kiddies and take a nap. If you work someplace where you can close a door and put your head down for 15 minutes, make it so.
Although some research points to a 30-minute nap as being ideal, a 10- to 20-minute snooze could be good enough to have you feeling refreshed and ready to face the rest of your day with a smile on your face.
Those are my seven suggestions for turning around a bad day. How do you beat it when you fall into a funk? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.