When you get stuck in a bad mood, what helps you get 'unstuck?'
Some days, I want to crawl back in bed by 9am, yell at other drivers on the road, give up, cry in the bathroom, crumple up my to-do list, run away, throw my phone in the garbage, or just drink wine even though it's only noon.
Recently, while I was having a bad day, I stumbled across a post from Rachel Brathen (Yoga Girl) about having bad moments, not bad days. She had compiled a list of things that helps her move on when things aren't going her way.
I loved how she put it: "Own it. Feel it. Get out of it."
Such a helpful reminder! When we feel stuck in a terrible mood, we do have the choice to try and shift out of it.
So, I made my own list, and I'm planning to refer back to it the next time I'm feeling stuck. Hope these ideas are helpful to you, too (whether it's a Monday or not a Monday!).
Sh*t to Do When I'm Having a Sh*t Day
- Breathe. Pause to notice my body. When I feel angry or frustrated, I tend to breathe less. Or, if I'm anxious, I might even hold my breath. Simply sitting down and choosing to take five deep breaths can make a big difference in giving myself the time to become aware of how my body feels. I do a quick scan, head to toe, to see what I notice. It helps to pause the thoughts, notice the body, and increase the breath.
- Get outside. Or at least get out of the house. If I'm near a walking path, a beach, or a park, I'll go there. I sit in the sunshine and notice the sounds around me. I try to notice the other people, too, and that I am not alone.
- Practice yoga. If the thought creeps in, "I don't want to," or, "I can't today," ignore it. I roll out my mat anyway. If I can get to the studio, I go take a class and I do my best to let the teacher and the yogis around me hold space for me. I do my favorite poses, ten minutes minimum. Sun salutations are great for getting the spine moving, which shifts energy in the body.
- Invert. Getting upside down has a physical effect on the brain, and it can help shift your mood. I like to take headstand for at least 8-10 breaths. Headstand doesn't make things perfect, or even change my circumstances, but it certainly offers me a momentary shift in perspective.
- Be around animals. Animals don't judge you, and they listen. They love unconditionally. Give your dog a walk, or a hug, and see if it can help you smile, even if only for a moment.
- Make a list. Start with the things that are bothering the most. Notice, how are they related to your fears or insecurities? When I write about these things, it tends to help me realize what negative thoughts are making me feel stuck. Sometimes I even like to write down those thoughts and then draw a big fat line through them, as a reminder that my mind is not in a truthful space. It's almost like telling my thoughts, "NO, you're wrong" and it helps me move forward. The alternative list you can make: shit I accomplished today! Yeah, taking a shower counts! So does getting dressed, eating a nourishing meal, and putting your dishes in the dishwasher!
- Rest. A lot of times I get in a shitty mood because I've been going too fast and too hard for too long. I'm exhausted. My body is suffering, or tired, or hurting. Taking a short nap, a hot bath, or a night off can make a big difference in getting back into a good mood.
- Get off of social media. Social media encourages us to compare ourselves to everyone around us. If I'm having a shit day, seeing other people smiling about all the happy things they're up to doesn't tend to help. One trick I use is to put the icons for Facebook and Instagram on a different 'page' of my phone, so I have to scroll a couple times to get to them. That way, I can't just mindlessly click to look at notifications. Trust that spending some time away from the stories and input of those around you will give you clarity.
- Talk through it. Usually the thing that helps me the most is to call, text, or talk to someone who loves me unconditionally. Opening up and voicing what my concerns are-- it really takes the pressure off. I try to be selective about who I talk to, and choose someone that is going to listen and be supportive, not try to change the situation for me or make me feel guilty, upset, or ashamed.
- Give yourself some small token of appreciation, or pause for a moment to celebrate. I like to wear jewelry as a reminder of what mantra I'm trying to keep in my mind, or put on a piece of clothing that makes me feel beautiful, or confident. Or I go to a coffee shop and buy myself a coffee, and focus on the fact that I deserve to feel good for a part of my day. It can also be helpful to pause and ask, "What's going well today? Anything?" and even if the answer is that I was able to get laundry done, I pause for a moment to celebrate that damn laundry.
- Let yourself off the hook for doing a whole damn list, and just do one thing that feels good. Maybe none of these things are going to help me get out of a bad mood today. So, move on from those, and do one thing that will help. When you take a moment to ask yourself what that one thing is, you'll know. Just go do it.
- And, because it's worth repeating, remind yourself: YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH, YOU ARE ENOUGH, YOU ARE LOVED.
Next time you're feeling caught between a rock and a hard place, just stuck in a shitty mood, try these things, or make your own list of ways you can push through. And then don't forget to do them :) While thinking about them is a helpful first step, it's the doing them that will really help.
Sending you big hugs, my friend.
Photos via Pinterest and by Justin Kral and Respiro Photography.