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Bad Days--How to Feel Better Fast

Updated on February 21, 2012

We all have bad days when we feel just awful. We might feel sad, angry, frustrated, depressed, anxious, worried, or lonely. We might even feel a combination of emotions. When we are having bad days, nothing seems to make us feel better. We will often push the people we love away, deciding instead to withdraw and feel sorry for ourselves. Of course, we know that this just makes us feel worse, but sometimes it seems impossible to break the cycle of our negative thoughts. But there are some quick, easy ways to turn a bad day around. Try a few of these strategies and see if you can make yourself feel better. (Of course, if your bad mood lasts for more than a few days and/or you are having trouble functioning normally, consult your physician. Depression is a serious problem that requires more than the suggestions found in this article.)

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1. Move Your Body. The number one way to instantly improve your mood in a natural way is exercise. The problem is, it can be hard to motivate yourself to move if you are in a bad or sad mood. The thought of "working out" can be overwhelming. Working out seems like a big production, involving proper footwear and exercise equipment, etc. But instead of trying to "work out," just start moving. You can be anywhere, wearing anything. If you are watching TV, get off the couch and start jogging or walking in place. Do some jumping jacks. If you are outside, start walking briskly down your block or back and forth across your yard. If you have young children, play tag or have races with them. If you have stairs in your house, walk up and down your stairs ten times. You get the idea -- just move. If you can find a way to move at a brisk pace for just ten or fifteen minutes, it will be almost impossible not to feel better. Exercise releases natural chemicals in your body that can quickly change your mood for the better.

2. Do Something That Makes You Lose Track of Time. When we are in a bad mood, we usually get wrapped up in our own thoughts, which just makes things worse. It's hard to feel better when you are lost in a negative spiral of thoughts (I can't do anything right. My marriage is terrible. I hate my job. Things will never get better. Nobody likes me.) A fast way to feel better is to break the cycle of negative thinking by doing something that is so engrossing that you lose track of time, and get out of your own head for a little while. For some people, doing a repetitive, routine task like folding laundry or weeding will do the trick. But for others, this type of task will make them more sad! If creative activities like dancing or drawing help you lose track of time, try those instead. Whatever works for you,try it for ten or fifteen minutes and see if it helps break the cycle of negative thinking.

3. Show Gratitude--Call or Email Someone to Say Thank You.A great way to improve a bad mood is to express gratitude. If there is someone in your life whom you are grateful to--like your mother, sister, spouse, or a friend--pick up the phone or log onto Facebook and send them a message telling them how thankful you are that they in your life. Maybe there is something specific that they have done for you in the past that you have always wanted to say thank you for. Or maybe they are simply always there for you when you need them. Take this opportunity to tell them what they mean to you. Sowing gratitude is a great way to break the cycle of your bad mood, and to remind yourself how many things and people there are in your life to be thankful for

4. Help Someone Out. Sometimes you need to shift the focus away from your own sad situation by helping someone else out. This can be as simple as walking over to your elderly neighbor who is outside raking the lawn and asking if you can help. Or spontaneously calling your sister or friend to see if she would like you to babysit so that she can go out shopping. Or offering to pay for a stranger's coffee behind you in the drive through. Random acts of kindness are good for the soul. If your soul is aching, helping out someone else--even a stranger--can be an instant pick-me-up. There is no better way to let go of your own sadness and suffering than by offering your assitance and support to someone else.

5. Analyze Your Bad Mood. Sometimes we feel that we are in a "bad mood" for no reason at all. But if we look closely enough, we might see that there is a reason. It may be that we feel hopeless about our marriage, or angry at our child, or depressed by our job. Often, sadness and anger come from a feeling of powerlessness--we don't know how to change our situation, or we are afraid to, so we internalize the feelings and simply experience it as a "bad mood." Instead of running away from your bad mood, try to look at it objectively. What is making you feel this way? What are your options? Is there a way to improve the situation? Is there a way to accept the situation if we can't change it? Again, if your bad mood is ongoing or making it difficult to function normally, discuss it with a health care provider.

Sage Carter shares ideas, information, and advice for better living. Visit her at


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