Call it a mood, a funk, the blues—there’s nothing worse than being in a bad mood at work. We waste time, feel like crap, and influence the moods of everyone around us. (Oh, you might think they don’t notice, but don’t be fooled–they do.)
It’s not always easy to snap out of a bad mood. We can get caught in that dark, dank place for a day, or even longer. But we need you–and all the superpowers you bring–way too much to let you hang out there for long. So for those mentally cloudy days at work, here are three simple strategies to help you snap out of your bad mood.
Maybe they won’t change the world–but they may change the way you’re thinking right now (so you can get back to changing the world).
How to Snap Out of a Bad Mood At Work
1. Sit on the floor.
Sometimes a change of perspective helps us get out of our heads, and there’s nothing like seeing the world at ankle-level to help take the heat out of whatever you’re stewing on. It also can shake us out of a mood by feeling a bit silly and childlike (remember when you could plop down and put on a pout?).
Sitting on the floor forces you to take a good look around. What do you notice down there? How do things look different? Look to see something you hadn’t seen before (even if it’s the dust bunny rolling around on the supposedly clean carpet.) That new awareness can be just enough of a kick to shift your mental gears and change the course of the day.
2. Play the “what’s this about?” game.
Write down a sentence that describes what’s gotten you into your funk, for example: “I’m mad that my boss criticized the project I worked all weekend to complete.” Then ask yourself “What’s this about?” and write down everything that comes to mind, even to the extreme! In this example, you might write:
- My boss doesn’t understand my efforts
- My boss doesn’t value me
- I wonder if I’m not as good as I thought
- I worry I’ll get fired
- I worry that without a job I’ll lose my house
After five minutes, read the list out loud. Typically, you’ll see things you can do to get into action, which in this example could be:
- Ask boss for more specific feedback on her criticism –is it the project or is it me?
- Ask trusted colleague for input on the project and ask how much time they would have taken to complete it.
- Don’t automatically assume work needs to be completed over the weekend–would the criticism feel different if I hadn’t lost my free time?
- Update resume and networking contacts in case this keeps happening.
Creating a couple simple, practical actions can release your bad mood and help you shift gears fast toward more productive thinking and a more pleasant day.
Mind/body studies have shown that even putting on a forced smile sends messages to your brain about your mood. So, to shake out of a funk, clench your teeth, turn the corners of your mouth skyward, and smile with all your might.
If you’re out in public, start smiling at others–and secretly challenge yourself to get them to smile back! If you’re on your own, go look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Feel silly? Good! Laughing at yourself reverses a bad mood in minutes.
Life certainly can provide its share of truly sad events and challenges, and these simple tips alone won’t fix deeper sadness or depression that are a natural part of being human. But when you’re just having a bad day, try one of these tools and make it a good day, fast!
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