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“Cheer up!”

Few comments are more grating — except maybe “Awww, somebody’s got a case of the Mondays!” — especially if you are in a bad mood.

“I’ll show you how to cheer up ...” [brandishes fist].

Grumpy, blue, stressed, mopey, sulky — whatever your brand of bad mood is, you probably do need to cheer up if it’s that noticeable.

But that, like so much else, is easier said than done.

Case of the Mondays? ... Some days, I swear ...”

If you find yourself muttering under your breath more often than you’d like, remember that moods change. Feelings are fickle things.

The same circumstances that make you tear your hair out today might not even phase you tomorrow.

And you have a lot more control over your moods than you might think. Moods often have more to do with what’s going on inside your body than what’s happening out in the world.

It’s not about just looking on the bright side. Or ignoring the sadness, or explaining it away. You don’t have to see the silver lining for every cloud, or deny how overwhelming and exhausting life can be. We all have a right to our feelings. But you have to admit, it all seems even worse when you’re in a bad mood.

And you can take concrete steps to feel better than you do now.

Next time you’re down in the dumps, ask yourself these questions before you react to your coworkers, send that snide email, yell at your kids, or make any important decisions.

How to Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

👉 Did you sleep well last night?

Just try feeling good when you get up early for work after a late night of Netflix and noshing nachos. Just try maintaining a positive mental attitude when your 6 am alarm drags you kicking and screaming into hateful wakefulness. Even if the adrenaline and caffeine get you through the morning, the afternoon slump is gonna getcha. And when your weary brain is making you overreact to some mundane challenge, the last thing you need is for a coworker to snark, “Looks like somebody needs a nap ...”

👉 When’s the last time you ate (and what was it?)

Just as with sleep, what and when you eat has a huge impact on how you feel. Anyone with kids sees the direct relationship between junk food and temper tantrums, let alone inconsistent bedtimes (see above).

But the same is true for adults operating on too little sleep and unhealthy breakfasts come mid-afternoon. By the time we try to combat fatigue and low blood sugar with a sugary snack and extra coffee, the result is often irritability — or even an embarrassing tantrum — over little things.

Woe to the unfortunate soul who gets in the way of a hangry, over-caffeinated office worker.

👉 Have you been exercising? Like, at all?

When you move, sweat, and get your heart rate up, your body makes these feel-good chemicals called endorphins all by itself. It’s amazing! No other drug — not alcohol, caffeine, prescription meds, or herbal supplements — comes close to that natural high. There’s no shortcut. No substitute. You can’t fake it! You have to move. The bonus is that regular exercise helps you sleep better and feel more motivated to choose healthy foods, which in turn can help you avoid bad moods.

Move your body. There’s no better way to feel better.

👉 Are you taking care of yourself in other ways?

Find a daily practice that helps you keep things in perspective, regardless of your current mood. This can be your exercise — yoga, walking, hiking, yardwork, whatever you like. Or maybe it’s doing the day’s crossword, reading a novel at the coffeeshop, journaling, or playing a game. Or woodworking, building model airplanes, making art, or cooking delicious food. Or just sitting and meditating. Whatever gets you out of your own head and into that flow state, when you’re in the zone and fully focused on what you’re doing right now.

The trick is to make it a regular practice. Don’t wait till you feel like doing something — that moment might never come. Just do it because that’s what you do.

You might be surprised how a daily practice can recenter you and bring you back to a place of mindful self-awareness. It can help you keep things in context and take them in stride instead of overreacting because you’re feeling snappy.

Perspective is everything.

Not to sound callous, but sometimes you just have to get over yourself. The world is no worse of a place after 4 hours of sleep than it is after 8, but it can definitely feel that way. Recognize your own limits — and your own power — when it comes to letting your mood affect your day.

Before you try pinning the blame on work frustrations, personal problems, the state of the world, social injustice, climate change — or even the constant eye-rolling from your teen — cover the basics. Get your sleep. Eat good food. Get active. Don’t reach for booze or coffee or a doughnut every time you want to feel better.

It won’t solve all your problems. But it can make them feel a whole lot less daunting — and can do a lot to brighten a bad mood.

Log in now. Learn more about handling what gets you down — even if it’s your own state of mind.


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You Mad, Bro? Anger Management Basics

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Originally posted 
May 1, 2024