bad mood

Break Out of a Bad Mood

Every guy has those days that just don’t feel right. You wake up but don’t want to get out of bed. Your mind finds all the bad things happening in the world around you and echoes them to you over and over again.

How do you break out of that terrible mood and get on with your day? How can you stop depressive moods from becoming more serious, long-term problems? Well, there’s plenty of methods and strategies out there, but I can tell you from experience that when I’m bummed out the last thing I want to do is start exercising or make up my bed.

Here are some of my own techniques that can stop a bad mood dead in its tracks. You see, even though I’m a mental health counsellor, I have bad days, too. Everybody does; it’s natural. So, I developed some feel better tricks that are really easy. They don’t take a lot of effort and you can feel the effects right away.

Here are 5 Tips for Breaking Out of a Bad Mood

1. Play a Video Game

Video games are designed to give you satisfying cognitive rewards and an entertaining experience. You receive achievements as you level up a character or advance to higher stages. Developing a character skill is much easier in a video game than developing a skill in the real world.

Designers do this on purpose to make the game more addictive. You match three gems and get a auditory bell accompanied by that sparkle which sets off a cascade of sparkles and dings that take you to the next level. It feels good.

Playing video games can break a depressive cycle if you don’t overindulge. The trick is to set a timer when playing video games to enhance your mood. The goal isn’t escapism. You don’t want to play all day, just feel better about your day. So, set a timer for about 2 hours. Enjoy the game guilt-free for the time you’ve allotted and then move on to something else.

Here are some of my video game recommendations based on different mood problems. If you’re feeling angry or sad about a social situation, then I recommend playing any of the Batman: Arkham games. You’re kicking ass and solving puzzles as Batman. It’s a no-brainer.

For guys who are struggling with mental fog or being unproductive, I’d recommend Mojang’s Minecraft. You’d be surprised at the tremendous feeling of satisfaction that comes from building a log cabin brick by brick in the middle of nowhere. There’s no way to fail this game and you can spark your imagination for creative problem solving in the real world later.

For guys who just want to shut off their brains or might be suffering from anxiety, a good ‘ol game of Tetris or Candy Crush should do the trick. Just zone out and relax. Hopefully, you’ll appreciate those micro-accomplishments from the game and feel better about your own ability to solve problems and achieve real world goals.

2. Book a Staycation at a Local Hotel

If you’re getting bummed out by lockdown you might feel like the walls are closing in around you. It’d be helpful to just get away from your own world and take a trip, but traveling isn’t a straightforward process these days with COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Luckily, some hotels are open for essential workers or people who need to travel for work-related purposes. Recently, I booked a two-night stay at a local Travelodge and it significantly boosted my mood. You can usually get past the restrictions with a little creative storytelling about the purpose of your stay.

Related: Too Much Business Travel Bad For Your Mental Health

Book yourself into a local hotel online first. Then, bring some sort of work credentials with you. Mention that you’ll need a quiet professional environment for virtual meetings and conferences all day long and tell the receptionist that your home just won’t suit the purpose.

That should get you past any restrictions and what you do behind closed doors is your own business. It feels amazing to enter a space where you don’t have to clean up after yourself and everything you need is laid out for you. Taking a staycation, even if just for a night or two, can remind you of the joy of traveling.

It’s not Barbados, but the feeling can still be the same. This is about breaking out of a mood slump. Take a long bath or shower. Order some food that you don’t have to cook and forget about washing the dishes or making up the bed. Just focus on yourself. Get some work done if you feel up to it, but the important thing is to focus on revitalizing your mind, body, and soul.

Related: 10 Ways Successful People Handle Stress

3. Take a Smile Shower

What, you’ve never heard of a smile shower? Okay, maybe I just made that up, but from time to time, I take smile showers. It’s one of the most surefire ways that I’ve developed to break out of a funky mood.

You might not feel like smiling, but when you smile your body sends powerful signals to your brain that release feel good neurochemicals. Even if you force yourself to smile, your brain releases those neurochemicals.

There was a scientific study published by the Association for Psychological Science in 2012 which proved that smiling can reduce stress. The researchers found that by just engaging the facial muscles responsible for smiling, participants experienced lower levels of stress and increased levels of happiness.

I suggest doing this in the shower because it’s an intimate, private space. You’re feeling the warm water rush over your skin. There’s that sensation of cleanliness and purification. So, smiling for no reason feels less awkward.

Try to set a goal of smiling for the whole duration of your shower. You might even feel so silly that you actually chuckle a bit and start smiling for real. What I found was that after smiling for about five minutes, my mood started to improve.

Then, my mind was having these kinds of thoughts – oh, we’re smiling? Okay, well, here’s that funny video you saw on YouTube last week. Oh, and here’s some random images of your favorite comedians making funny faces.

It was as if my mind was trying to validate why I was smiling. There’s this fascinating sort of mirror effect that takes places while you’re having a smile shower. You’re physically smiling, which produces feel good chemicals, which in turn causes your mind to create images and ideas that validate those chemicals.

Congratulations, you’ve just hacked your own emotions. You’ll leave the shower feeling light-hearted, relaxed and refreshed. The smile shower might even give you the boost you needed to clean your house or go out for a light jog. I’ve found that this is a great catalyst for other positive things to happen throughout the rest of the day.

4. Get Dressed Up Nice

This one takes a bit of effort but pays off big dividends. When you’re feeling down in the dumps, you don’t want to even get out of bed, let alone wear some fancy clothes. However, dressing up nice can significantly enhance your perception of self.

Start by taking a shower and getting cleaned up. Then, select a nice outfit, but take no thought as to where you’re going or what you might be doing. The purpose is just to get dressed up nice for no reason at all.

You might need to iron your shirt or slacks. Then, you might feel the need to splash on some cologne and comb your hair. Hell, you might even put on a tie. It’s a ritual, really. You’re going through the motions of behaviors that are associated with productive, self-confident actions.

Related: 25 Best Smelling Colognes for Guys!

When I get dressed up for no reason, I usually find a reason to get out of the house. I might be ridiculously over-dressed for a trip to the supermarket, but I’m rewarded by the approving glances of people around me and the feeling of approval that I’ve produced inside of myself.

Five different experiments conducted by researchers at California State University, Northridge and Columbia University showed a correlation between how we dress and how we feel about ourselves. Participants in the study exhibited increased self confidence and abstract thinking when dressed in formal attire.

You might take it for granted any other day but getting dressed and going out is an accomplishment. It’s one of the hardest things to do when you’re in a bad mood. Your natural inclination is to turtle-up and withdraw from activity. So, when you decide to go in the opposite direction, you’re proving to yourself that you have the willpower to overcome passing thoughts and feelings.

Even if you don’t venture out that day, you’re still clean and dressed nicely. So, you’ve lost nothing. If you happen to pass by a mirror, you might even give yourself an approving nod of the head and realize that you’re actually kind of handsome, at least when you try.

5. Watch a Feel-Good Movie

This technique for enhancing your mood requires the least amount of effort. You can even do it from your bed if you don’t feel like getting up. Watching a feel-good movie is awesome because you set the rules for your own experience. Nobody can tell you what to watch. This is your own feel-good movie.

For me, I always turn to Coming to America. I have the whole movie memorized but I can watch it over and over again. Sometimes, I don’t even laugh anymore at the comedic bits. It’s just a feel-good movie for me. It reminds me of times when I’ve watched this film with my family, and it takes me back to my good ol’ younger days.

I’m sure you have a film or TV show that produces those same kinds of feelings and thoughts. Watching your favorite movie wraps you up in nostalgia and familiar emotions. It’s the fact that this movie is so familiar that improves your mood. Uncertainty produces anxiety, but when you’re comfortable you relax the tension in your mind.

You can watch a feel-good movie alone or you can get a mood-boosting bonus by inviting someone else to watch it with you. This takes a certain level of trust because you’re inviting someone into your safe space. So, be sure to watch your feel-good movie with someone who won’t ruin the experience for you.

The Takeaway

There’s no shortage of advice on how to snap out of it and feel better. In most cases, it’s easier said than done. These are some of the easiest ways that I’ve improved my own mood and broke the spell of a bad day.

The hotel trip is the priciest trick on this list. The feel-good movie is the cheapest. You can decide which one of these will work best in your own situation. You might even be able to put all five of these techniques together for a super mood-boosting combo.

What you want to avoid are quick fixes that have negative consequences. So, don’t reach for that six pack of donuts. You might feel better in the moment, but the backlash will set you back even further. The same goes for drugs and alcohol. The consequences just aren’t worth it in the end.

Whichever method you choose, I hope you’re able to improve your mood. Remember – everybody has some bad days and that’s perfectly normal, but if you experience a prolonged period of depressive mood, then you should consider talking to a professional.  One place to consider getting the guidance and support you need is through Better Help.

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