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The Secret to Changing Your Mood

If you'd rather listen, you can do here.

When we talk about being in a mood, generally it means a bad mood, which could be feeling sad or angry or irritable. But mood could also mean a happy mood or excited. Our moods can be a reaction to something short term and immediate or part of a longer-term pattern.

Moods can give us a good indication of how we feel things are going in general. If you feel a negative mood is stopping you going about your normal life, it could be a sign that you need some further support. It's important to remember that you don't have to be in a good mood all the time. You don't owe anyone that and it's important to honour your own feelings. Sometimes things happen to us/around us and it's natural and healthy to work through negative emotions about them. But there are times when you want to change your mood for yourself. And this is where knowing that you can take action helps. If you’re in a negative mood right now and want some help breaking out of it, here are my top tips:

😔 Identify where your negative mood is coming from. Is it a specific event that’s just happened like an argument with your partner, is it a longer-term pattern of external events like some problems at work or is it something internal such as lack of sleep, poor nutrition, lack of exercise or hormonal changes? Understanding what is causing your mood will help you feel more able to exert some control.

😕 Identify exactly what feelings you are experiencing. If I’m feeling irritable, I understand that I may need to limit my social interactions (especially through social media). If I’m feeling lonely or hopeless, I need to proactively look for interactions with others.

With these two pieces of information, make a plan for dealing with your negative feelings. I find this works well breaking it down into two, easy main components:

1) limit things that will make you feel worse

2) find things that make you feel better – what is that for you personally?

When you need alone time, what is it you need? A bath, time with a book, spending time on a hobby, movement and exercise, stillness and meditation? When you need to distract yourself are you better calling a friend or watching a cooking show?

Make a list of 10 things that work best for you. If you’re not sure what does work best, write down the first 8 things that come to mind. Now add 2 things you’ve never consciously tried before which could be taking a new class (there are so many free online classes and FutureLearn is a great place to start looking), mindfulness, volunteering, cooking, anything you personally don’t usually do.

Try these 10 items (in any order you want) the next time you want to change your mood. Rate how well they work. Taking active measures in changing your mood will in itself have a positive impact.

Here’s a (very non-exhaustive) list of things that you could put on your list. Let me know in the comments what I’ve missed:

  • Smile to yourself

  • Watch some stand-up comedy (or listen to an audio book)

  • Read

  • Write a short story

  • Work on a long-term project

  • Meditate

  • Take an online class

  • Call a friend or family member

  • Go for a walk

  • Do your usual exercise

  • Do an unusual exercise – try a new activity like stand up paddle boarding, rock climbing or hot yoga

  • Spend time in nature

  • Take a bath or shower

  • Have a nap

  • Drink a glass of water while emptying your mind

  • Declutter your wardrobe, fridge or a cupboard

  • Do a puzzle

  • Book a nice appointment like a massage or haircut

  • Put on a banging playlist!

Learning what works best for you to get yourself out of a negative mood means you have actions to hand whenever you need them. Not each one will work as well for each occasion so having several actions can really enhance your toolbox of emotional control.

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