Can The Grouch: How To Get Rid of a Bad Mood

bad mood frowny face

Have you ever had one of those days when everything is going wrong? Someone put the milk container back in the fridge with only a tablespoon of milk in it so you can’t have cereal. You trip while carrying your full mug of coffee and you have to change your clothes again. You step on a stray lego and you can’t find your keys and you are late to get the kids out the door. And all that happens before your day even gets started. It is enough to put anyone in a bad mood!

Whether the world is conspiring against you or you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, try these methods for shaking off the cranky before your family starts calling you Oscar.

Get Outside

A study at Duke University found that 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week is as effective as drug therapy for treating major depression. Just getting outside in the sun and filling my lungs with fresh air lifts my mood almost immediately. Go for a quick walk around your neighborhood, go pull some weeds or pick some flowers from your yard, or take the kids for a trail walk or to the park. Just get yourself outside and get your body moving!

Have a Dance Party

If the weather doesn’t allow for getting outside, get moving indoors. Turn on some irresistible music and turn the volume up. Skip the Raffi CD, this is a good time to introduce the kids to the music of your youth. Last spring I had a rough few weeks and discovered that my Bean actually loved the industrial music I dredged up from my pre-child, goth-dance-clubbing life. And let me tell you, it is impossible to stay in a bad mood while watching your toddler shake her booty to Die Form and VNV Nation.

Clear The Room

Still can’t shake it? Put it to work. I find the grumps are very helpful in clearing clutter. I’m just not that nostalgic about candle stubs and mismatched socks when my mood isn’t stellar. At the very least, grab a basket and collect every item from your main living areas that belongs somewhere else. You don’t even have to put them all away, just get them picked up and out of sight. Having a tidy living space makes me breathe easier and feel calmer.

Take A Nap

Even well-rested adults sometimes need some rest mid-day, and we all know that parents of young kids are not well-rested adults.  While not a substitute for adequate sleep, a short power nap may help you through an energy dip and help reset your outlook.  The Dumb Little Man blog has a great post about power naps.

Find The Source

Though it might feel like your bad mood was triggered by the breakfast spilled on the floor or the fact that the hot water ran out before you got a shower this morning, the true source is likely something different. Taking the time to figure out what is really bothering you will help you kick that mood for good. Spend some quiet time with yourself to unravel your feelings. Last week I was feeling really overworked and under appreciated, but I finally realized I just needed to focus some of my energy on myself.  Once I did that I felt much better. Is there something you need to deal with in your life?  A conversation you need to have or a relationship you need to repair or sever? Figure out what that is and deal with it. I promise you will feel better for it.

Ask For Understanding

Recently I’ve been reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. She writes about the strength that can come from being vulnerable. Take an action to remind yourself that you are not alone. Find someone you trust and let them know you are struggling. Ask for support in whatever way feels good to you, but resist the urge to turn the conversation into a bitch session. Reach out and ask for a little help. Share the burden of that mood with someone who you know can help you carry it. I find that making this kind of connection really helps dissipate the feelings.

Find Your Groove

Each of us has some activity that grounds us. I used to work with someone who was an incredible cook.  When she’d had a bad day at the office the thing that made her feel best was to go home and make herself a lavish, from-scratch meal. For some people that level of effort in the kitchen is hugely unappealing, but the process of cooking fed her. My thing is making something with my hands. That might be doing a drawing, knitting, or sewing something. Some people go running. What is your thing? Find just a little bit of time to do this as soon as you can. Find your way back to your self. Doing this might help you shake loose some clarity about the source of your bad mood, too.

Walk Away

Call a time out on life. Curl up on the couch with the kids and watch a movie. Drive to the park or the beach, throw down a big blanket and look for animal shapes in the clouds. Make a fort with your littlest and read some stories in there. Just like a little down time can re-set a cranky toddler, stepping away from your responsibilities and to-dos and should-be-doings can do wonders for your stress level and outlook on life.

Make A Gratitude List

When I’m suffering from a string of cranky days, this is the practice I fall back to. I find it most effective when I do it last thing before I go to sleep. It kind of clears my head so I sleep better and wake up happier. List three things you are grateful for from your day, or five, or just one if that’s all you can think of. Even if you think you had the worst day ever, challenge yourself to find one beautiful moment.  Maybe the slant of light on the trees was just right when you went out to get the mail. Maybe your preschooler brought you a flower from the yard (even if it really was a weed). Just acknowledge it.What do you do when you are having a crabby day? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below.