Bad moods can be stubborn and hard to get out of. According to one study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, our moods can even affect our perception of others.
The study explored how individuals would categorize pictures of faces displaying happy or sad emotions. Those surveyed were shown either happy or sad faces before the actual test took place. During the actual test, they were shown different faces and asked to categorize them. Participants were more likely to categorize the facial expressions as similar to whichever mood they were shown previously.
Simply, this means that once you are in a happy or sad mood, you are more likely to view other events through the same happier or sadder lens. While this can be wonderful when trying to stay positive, it can spell disaster for an already sour mood.
Here are some of our favorite ways to change your mood for the better.
Change Your Physical Space
One of the quickest ways to change your mood is to change your physical space. This can be hard depending on your task-at-hand. If your job or task requires specific equipment, it can be hard to bring those items with you into another room!
But if it’s feasible for you to do, try changing up your scenery when you find yourself in a negative mood. Feeling angry at a ruined dish in the kitchen? Take a break and read a book for 15 minutes on the couch. Feeling frustrated with school or corporate work? Take a teatime break or even take your work remote by switching from a desktop to a laptop.
If you only have one room or limited room to change the scenery in, sometimes leaving the house to take a walk outside can help clear your head and help you tackle tasks later on. Additionally, while changing scenery significantly will help reset your mind quicker, even changing positions on your bed or sitting on the floor instead of in your chair for a few minutes can help ground you when emotions swell.
Change Your Mood by Listening to Music
Do you ever rely on your favorite songs to pick you up when you’re feeling down? Turns out there might be some science behind that!
According to researchers from the Psychology Department of the University of Groningen, music can change not only your mood but your perception as well. They found that even if there was nothing visual to look at, people can visualize happy faces when listening to happy music, and sad faces when listening to sad music.
This is wonderful news for those of us with more bad days than we’d like. If you’re feeling down, try listening to a favorite pick-me-up song. If there isn’t one that comes to mind, search for something in a major key. Still looking?
We’ve curated 16 Inspiring Songs to Get You Out of A Funk in this previous blog article.
Take a deep breath and try to focus on only listening to the joyful music. Bonus points if you start to want to dance or tap along with the rhythm of the song. Not only will this lighten your mood at the moment, but it should also help recenter your brain and help you focus on positives instead of negatives.
This can also be a great exercise to do before any highly stressful meetings or performances. By preparing in advance with upbeat happy music, you’ll be more inclined to notice happiness in your coworkers or audience members instead of sadness or disappointment. This can make you more comfortable and help you perform even better as well.
Do Something New
Similar to changing your physical space, trying a new activity is a quick way to change your mood, and hopefully for the better. Whether this is trying a new food, a new at-home exercise, or something more drastic like going skydiving, trying something new tricks your brain into focusing completely on the task-at-hand.
This is almost a certain way to change your mood, as the focus needed to complete or evaluate your new task won’t be identical to the activities you were doing previously. I know what you’re thinking: if you’re already in a bad mood, how can you feel confident in tackling something new?
Try to reword any doubt in your brain into opportunities. Sure, you don’t have any experience in the new activity you’re trying. But that means it’s only an upward trajectory from here! Start with 5 or even 2-minute learning intervals and watch yourself become engrossed in a new task quickly.
Time Permitting, Take a Nap
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to distract ourselves, we can’t shift our thoughts and feelings away from negativity. Most activities we try to transition to require attention and concentration to actually help us change our moods.
So what do we do when our brains are overloaded? Taking a nap can be a great alternative to completely burning a fuse. Understandably, taking a nap is not always an option depending on how much time is in a day and deadlines.
However, taking even a shorter 15-30 minute nap (or quiet time to lay down) can help clear your mind and shift your thoughts to a new subject. The trick here is to not treat your “nap time” as a brainstorming session, but as a permissible break time to zone out.
When you wake up, you may just find yourself calmer and in a mood ready to tackle the rest of the day.
Changing Your Mood is a Life Skill
Changing your mood sounds like a simple task, but can be extremely difficult at times. Unfortunately, it is also a life skill that is almost essential to master to reduce conflict and increase happiness in life.
Next time you find yourself in a mood pickle, take one of our suggestions from the list and give them a try. You may just find yourself feeling better in no time. Ready to learn more about how to live your best life and be more productive at work or school? Check out the following articles: