I am probably one of the worst people to give advice on mood-boosting. I’m the sort of person who, having gotten into a bad mood, has a really hard time getting back into a good mood. Usually it requires going back to bed. When I’m in a bad mood, for some perverse reason I want to stay there.
I’m like Anne in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s book Anne of Green Gables. When Anne felt homesick after leaving the Green Gables, she tried not to cry, but finally gave in, thinking “I can’t cheer up – I don’t want to cheer up. It’s nicer to be miserable!” Some days I just feel that “It’s nicer to be miserable.”
Such a thought is, of course, ridiculous. Of course being happy is more pleasant than being miserable. But, as the saying goes, “misery loves company,” and a bad mood can be really hard to shake.
There’s lots of conventional wisdom for brightening a bad mood, some of which works for me, and some of which doesn’t.
Something that Totally Doesn’t Work for Me:
- Exercise – Exercising is supposed to be some sort of magical mood booster. While I have found that a habit of exercising regularly usually results in being happier overall, when I’m in a “nicer to be miserable” mood, exercising usually only makes me feel worse. I start thinking more about my weight and figure, and start to feel fat and inadequate.
Things that I Probably Shouldn’t Do But Sometimes Do Anyway:
- Comfort Food – I don’t usually eat a lot of junk food, and I try to avoid emotional eating. But sometimes it’s best to just let myself have the milkshake (or whatever I happen to be craving). And, you know what? As long as I do it in moderation, it really does make me feel better, without feeling guilty later.
- Shopping – Or, as I like to call it, “retail therapy.” Again, I do try to do it in moderation. Even when I do splurge, I’m still not a big spender – an average splurge for me is less than $30. Giving myself a little treat now and then is a nice way to reward myself for trying to be a responsible adult the rest of the time.
Things that Mostly Work:
- Pleasant Memories – I reflect upon good times, things I’ve accomplished, and look through my photo books. A nice walk down memory lane can get me through what I need to do, though it doesn’t lift the gloom completely.
- Cleaning – A cleaner space helps me relax and feel inner peace. (Wow, that sounds totally lame, but just go with it.)
- Music – Either I sing fun songs or I listen to music I really enjoy. This usually works pretty well, though sometimes the mood boost only lasts as long as the music. I found a really great quote awhile ago, and it is so true for me: “I don’t sing because I am happy; I am happy because I sing.” Singing kind of fools my brain into thinking I’m happy. Singing definitely works better for me than just listening; in fact, I get depressed when I start losing my voice, because then I can’t sing.
- Doing Something Creative – Like blogging or working on a photo book on Shutterfly. If I’m in a bad mood, it’s really hard to get started on a creative endeavor, but it can really help me feel better.
- Mindfulness Walk – I like to go for walks, but not for exercise. I walk at a fairly slow pace, and focus on appreciating the sights and sounds. A park or duck pond (or some other attempt at nature in the urban landscape) works best for mood-boosting. This puts me in a quiet, contemplative mood.
Sure-fire Mood Boosters:
- Reading – If I can have a good chunk of time (at least half an hour to an hour) to read something for fun, I will feel refreshed and ready to try again.
- Socializing – Nothing cheers me up like a social gathering. Even if I think I don’t want to go, I’m glad I went. I love to talk and socialize. Withing five minutes I’ll be chipper and cheerful.
- Annoying Non-Morning People in the Early Morning – This is even better than socializing. If someone wakes me up, I will want to smack someone. But if there are grumpy I’m-not-awake-until-I-have-my-first-cup-of-coffee kind of people around, I feel the urge to sing something bright and chipper, like “In the leafy treetops the birds sing good morning.”
- Reading the Scriptures – Reading the scriptures, even just for a little while, gives me feelings of peace. It puts my little problems in perspective and helps me to rely more upon God and less upon myself.
What works for you? What totally doesn’t work? Am I totally crazy, or can you relate? (That’s the real reason I write some of these posts; I want to find out if I’m normal or weird.) Share your thoughts in the comments below!