• Eve Arnold

How To Kick Yourself Out of a Bad Mood — Covid-19 Edition

Photo: Pete Nowicki/Unsplash


“For many of us, a day is neither bad or good. It is our attitude that seems to make it what it is.” Darryl Van Kirk
“If you have a bad day, guess what you chose it!” Rorbert W. Merriweather

But when you are in a bad mood, if you’re anything like me, you’ll think… I get that Robert and Darryl and that’s great. But that doesn’t help me get through this shit show of a day.

I’m pissed off and knowing it’s my fault is pissing me off even more.

Yesterday I woke up in a shit mood. Shit. For no apparent reason it hit me somewhere between waking up and sitting down to login work. I was in a bad mood. Now I’m currently the majority of the way through Ryan Holiday’s ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ so it was very timely and quite annoying that this was happening. In the midst of an obstacle (my bad day) I’m reading Ryan Holiday’s book about how embracing the obstacle is the way to overcome it. One slight problem, I can’t stop being pissed off at my bad mood.

The whole world going to shit, this lockdown situation hasn’t really affected me up until now. I was totally fine, until yesterday morning I woke up and thought:

What’s the point.

And that is always a question that’s destined for disaster if you’re in a bad mood.

However, I am happy to report that after a day of being peed off, by about 5pm I was back in a good mood and I thought it was quite an interesting case study what happened to me yesterday.

First of all, I think it’s fine to indulge your bad mood. Whilst it’s not incredibly productive or necessarily great for the long term, I think for the short term sometimes it’s fine to say:

“I’m in a bad mood and I don’t feel like doing anything other than wallowing in my bad mood”

And wallow away. But as I have learnt yesterday, there are some things that help kick you out of a bad mood, or at least for me there are, and I thought I would share my findings.

Step One:

Eat.

No less than half of my bad moods ever experienced have been solved by food. We all have experienced the emotion of being hangry. It’s a real thing and it’s very hard to shake. When I’m hungry I’m a lot less empathetic, very easily wound up and quite short tempered. A sandwich later and I’m totally fine and probably slightly apologetic about my early mood.

Food is a key part of our daily lives and when we don’t have much of it we feel pretty pissed off. It’s important to keep well fed and eating well when in a bad mood. It’s probably not much of an issue these days, being a few feet away from the fridge means that we don’t often go hungry but I think it’s important to be eating the right stuff.

Biscuits for breakfast is okay once in a blue mood but don’t make a habit of it. Before you know it you’ll be experiencing sugar high before 9am and wondering why you constantly feel like shit by 10am. Eating the right foods is just as important as eating enough food. Being constantly on the phone, emailing, having less breaks than normal is all quite draining on our brains. Added to that is the total shit-storm of the world we are living in in this very moment and it’s easy to feel exhausted. I’ve tried to use meals as a sense of normality in this odd time we find ourselves in.

Eating well and enough is absolutely key to a good day.

Come to think of it, there is a very strong correlation in my life between good food and good days.

Didn’t Shakespeare say something about food being good for the soul. I’m sure he did.

Step Two:

Clean something.

I find this one to be absolutely gospel every single time. I don’t know what it is about having a clean area to work in but it makes my mind feel clear. If there are pots piling up, if I look round and see crap everywhere, or things out of place I feel unorganised. That makes me sound like my house is totally spotless. It’s not. I’m sat at the dining room table that has no fewer than a pile full of books, a water bottle and a hairbrush on it. So I’m no where near organised or tidy.

When we feel like the day is going to shit, one thing that always makes me feel better is something being clean or tidy. I might have had an absolute clanger of a day but at least the fridge is clean.

Step Three:

Do something productive.

Now there are multiple reasons why you might be having a shit day. If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t know the reason every single time. But us folk, well we’re into self-development and productivity and I say, when you’re in a bad mood, it’s good to stick with what you know. Quite obviously, self-development and productivity gives us a sense of wellness. I find it’s quite a good idea to tap into that when you feel a bit shit. And sometimes it feels like the hardest thing to do.

The last thing we feel like doing when we’re in a right shit mood is do anything productive. But if you can force yourself to start writing or send an email or ring that person, you’ll find or at least I find, that ticking something off your list is good for the soul.

Lets face it, if we are the types that sit and read articles about being productive, it’s probably a given that ticking something off our to-do list is up there on making us feel good.

Use what you know about yourself to your advantage.

Step Four:

Do some sort of exercise.

Wallowing is good for a set period of time. I find my best wallowing lasts between 1–3 hours. By that point I’m getting more wound up with myself and need to do something. Again, it can feel like a right battle to muster up enough energy to do anything but if you can get yourself outside for a walk it really is a game changer.

Light exercise is good. But knackering yourself out doing something a little more taxing is also good.

Whatever suits, but getting your blood moving and your mind thinking less is never a bad thing in my opinion. Sometimes you need to get out of the environment you are in to get out of the mindset you are in. A good walk exploring nature is a lovely way to pontificate a bad mood.

Step Five:

Make yourself feel nice.

We are in very odd times at the moment but I feel like this is one that should not be overestimated. We all feel down from time to time and that is sometimes reflected in our personal appearance. It was never really a problem at work because ‘getting ready’ was very much part of the morning routine, if not the centre piece of the morning routine. Now? Well it can be missed off the list entirely if you’d like. No-one’s going to see you.

But missing it off the list, at least for me, has meant that I don’t always feel quite my ‘best’ self. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving not having to do the whole eyebrow / mascara situation and I haven’t straightened my hair in weeks. But what it means is we’re not taking the level of care of ourselves as we did before. Getting dressed up for a night out is partly fun because you get to make yourself look nice, you feel at your best. That’s sort of missing in today’s world — or at least it is for me.

Step Six:

Failing all else — get an early night.

I for one, adore sleep. It’s probably the thing I’m best at. I feel sleep at break time when I was six. Just on the benches. I think break time was fifteen minutes long back in the day. Somehow between the games of tig and racing around I found a cosy little spot to have a quick nap.

I think some of the world’s biggest problems can be solved with a good night’s sleep.

Some days are for living. Others are for getting through. — Malcolm S Forbes

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