Tools to get out of a bad mood

When we wake up with a cold, we would usually do something about it. We might stock up on vitamins, get some rest and keep warm. We take action and we take care of ourselves. We’re programmed to want to stay healthy as this is our default mode.

Similarly, our default mood should be happiness. This is when we function best. Often, we don’t have a specific toolkit to keep our mind healthy in the same way as we do for our body. We might ignore it or think of our day as going ‘badly’, when really we have the power to change our state at any time. Our mind should be treated in the same way as when our body is not 100%: with the right tools and with compassion.

I don’t mean striving for ‘positive vibes’ at all times. Pressure to be constantly upbeat invalidates other emotions and encourages us to suppress any emotion that isn’t super happy. Emotions are not meant to be constant or uniform. Instead of labelling an emotion as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, just see it for what it is – an emotion. Talking about it or writing in your journal can really help. Then look at ways to lift your mood. Here are a few ideas of tools you could use when you’re in a funk:


Some people run, some people like to get to the gym, some people dance. Whatever your thing is, movement is key as it changes our state immediately. I love getting outside and walking. Getting out into nature has an immediate grounding effect. Anyone can do it and it costs nothing.


Instant mood booster. When combined with movement, this stimulates receptors at the back of the brain associated with positive mood and lessened anxiety.


Make yourself a hot drink, take a long shower, moisturise, cook your favourite meal. Treat yourself to something nice. If you can, give yourself a slot of time where you can just be. Although I’m a big believer in self-discipline as self-care, sometimes you just need to give yourself permission not to tick things off a list.

Put your phone away

It’s crazy how much time we can lose by ‘just checking’ one app and ending up scrolling mindlessly for far too long. You might curate your instagram feed by following only accounts that do inspire you or make you feel good, but it’s still better to spend less time watching other people live their lives and more time enjoying your own. When you put your phone on flight mode or in a different room (having a designated place for it is such a good idea) and spend time away from technology, you can focus on yourself and what matters to you.


Do something you love to do, with the sole purpose of enjoying it. Cook, watch a film, read a good book with a cup of tea, dance, take a long shower and moisturise, get into the garden. Anything that makes you feel good.

Write it out

Becoming aware of how you feel and owning your feelings gives you the power to change them. You can then explore why you feel that way and how you can change your thought patterns. If your mood is related to a specific problem, getting it down in writing can help to release it from your mind. If you don’t know why you’re feeling a certain way, journaling can be a helpful tool in the first instance. It brings your thoughts and feelings (that you may not even be aware of until you write them down) to the surface. Writing things down makes them feel more controllable and manageable. It also gives you control of your self-talk.

Talk to someone

Being open with someone and having them listen or offer a new perspective can make you see your situation in a different way. If the emotion is related to a specific person, sometimes it just needs an open conversation and explaining how you feel (starting with ‘I feel…’ carries more power than other phrases which can be seen by the other person as blame).

Plan things to look forward to

It’s important to enjoy the present, but having something planned that you’re really excited about – a catch-up with a friend, a house project, a recipe you’ve been wanting to try for ages, a course, a trip away – gives you so much motivation.

Practice gratitude

Taking a moment to appreciate what and who you have in your life can really alter your mindset, especially when written down. Who are you grateful for? What are you grateful for? Take pleasure in the small things during the day, as well as the bigger things.

Take a bath

If you can’t switch off and meditation isn’t your thing, a bath is the ultimate way to de-stress and put you in a meditative state. A bath stimulates the alpha brainwave frequencies (the same frequencies as when we daydream, walk or sunbathe) and theta brainwaves (associated with a state of flow, light sleep and meditation). It’s an instant and effective way to change your state. 

Help someone else

Sometimes when we’re in a bad mood and have no idea what to do, helping someone else is a good place to start. It promotes physiological changes in the brain linked with happiness; gives you a sense of empowerment; perspective; purpose and connection. Plus, it’s just nice to be nice!

Everyone has different activities that work for them, but seeing it as a ‘toolkit’ makes you realise how much control you have over how you feel. Figuring out what works for you and connecting to these things every day, not just when you’re in a bad mood, can improve your life on a whole new level. You could start by answering this question: what makes me feel good? We often avoid doing what is best for us, but it’s usually the smallest things.

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