Why it’s Hard to Improve Your Mood
The problem is though, that getting out of a bad mood can be surprisingly difficult. The reason for this is that being in a bad mood affects you emotionally – and when we’re emotional it becomes more difficult to think clearly and logically.
What you will probably find then, is that when you’re in a bad mood, you actually don’t want to get out of it. You might find yourself thinking things like ‘why should I try and act happy?’ or ‘it’s distasteful to pretend like everything’s alright’. This is why we end up listening to sad music, and why we end up brooding in the dark when we’re in a bad mood – it’s self-perpetuating and we
want to wallow in it (or alternatively ‘drown’ our sorrows with alcohol).
Of course, these ruminations are incorrect and not particularly constructive. While it might seem like you need to be in a bad mood in that moment, it in fact will do nothing for you and you’d be much better off trying to improve the way you feel. Punching a pillow has been shown by studies to only make us angrier, while wallowing in self-pity isn’t exactly going to help you bring about positive change and get to the route of whatever it is that’s troubling you…
Changing Your Thinking
There is an obvious solution to this, and it’s something that has been put forward by many self-help books and articles. The simple advice here is to do something that’s incongruent with being in a bad mood. By watching a funny film, hanging out with friends, or listening to upbeat music, you can force yourself to kind of ‘forget’ that you are in a bad mood and eventually you’ll crack that smile that breaks the spell. Even just forcing yourself to smile when your own can improve your mood due to something called ‘facial feedback’.
That’s why you’re going to do something different instead. While you’re in a good or neutral mood (so now hopefully?), try creating yourself a playlist of music that will gradually ‘improve’ in mood as you go through each song. So start with that sombre, wallowing track, then for the next track have just slightly happier lyrics and a slightly faster beat. Continue this pattern until the songs at the end of your playlist are happy or bouncy or at least defiant and empowering. This way you will sneak those songs in under the radar – almost using the initial tracks as a Trojan Horse. You’ll find that you are much more able to stomach the slow songs at the start, but that even just listening to those is enough to start improving your mood. By the end, your mood should be considerably improved.
And as you go through this process, you should try to improve the way you think about your situation. Remember that being in a sulk won’t achieve anything. You can choose whether you want to let things get to you, or whether you want to get on with life and stay positive. At the same time, try to think about the positive aspects of your situation – even if something terrible has happened, it might have helped to strengthen your character, or lead to other positive experiences you’d never have had otherwise.
With the help of the music, you’ll find these positive thought patterns are much easier to maintain. By the end you’ll hopefully have forgotten why you were in such a rotten mood in the first
place, and as you repeat this process, you’ll find it becomes much easier to moderate your own tempers and moods in future.