Healthy Ways To Move Through a Bad Mood


The noisy upstairs neighbors. The traffic.

The EXPRESS line at the grocery store (sir, you have more than 10 items).

The toilet seat.

The medical provider who called you the wrong pronouns. Again.

Your mother.

The kid climbing the walls or shouting at the top of his lungs at the laundromat or restaurant.

When it's your kid.


We are human beings who experience bad moods--well, if we are healthy human beings, we do. If you don't have different moods and portray a Pollyanna-type vibe 24/7 or try to talk other people out of their moods, it might mean you're not feeling your feelings. I want to encourage you to get some support for that, because repression and compartmentalization don't work long-term. Just because you're struggling doesn't mean you're needlessly suffering--and just because you're "happy" doesn't mean everything is ok. I can't help with a lot of this, because I'm not a therapist. But I can share what's within my scope of practice as an integrative health coach to help you move through a bad mood in healthy ways.


1) Don't reach for anything.

Food. Games. People. Drugs. Beer. What else am I missing here? Oh, shopping online. Um, posting a vague, passive-aggressive status on FACEBOOK. Try to not distract yourself with something if you're in a bad mood. Are you laughing or scoffing right now? Yeah, I'm talking to you then. When we feel in a bad mood, we often reach for things to make the bad feeling go away. You know what this does? It reinforces our habit of running away from feeling something. Each time we do it, we get better at that, the reaching and running--not at actually FEELING.

2) Talk it out.

Phone a friend. Write it down. Talk to yourself if you have to, dammit. Literally walk around your living space or office and say whatever is in your head. If you're at work, maybe you can go to the bathroom and make sure no one else is in there. If someone walks in, you can pretend to hang up your phone--or say with totally honesty, "ha, you caught me talking myself down from a frustrating moment." Watch the person's face reveal complete and total awe and amazement at your self-awareness.

3) Set a timer and sit it out.

Use the timer on your phone or something and sit somewhere comfortable. Close the door if you have to. But when a mood comes up, just FEEL IT. Like, just let it be there for a minute. Or two minutes. Notice when you don't faint or melt into the floor beneath you. It feels bad, yes, but you don't cease to exist. When the timer goes off, see what's there for you. Still feel bad? Set the timer again and sit still. Still alive? Good. Keep doing this. See how many minutes pass before you realize that moods aren't a permanent state of being. They pass. Want to know something else? They are completely normal and OK. It means you're a complex, dynamic human being fully experiencing the complexity of life.

 4) Drop and give yourself 20.

Doing 20 pushups is like, the perfect solution to just about anything. I'm convinced of it. If you aren't able to do them due to accessibility, count to 20 instead and see if your bad mood is as bad when you reach 20. If you ARE physically able to do pushups and hammer them out quick, you feel really strong and confident, which will probably eliminate your bad mood. If you can't do them, you've just distracted yourself from whatever was causing your bad mood. Now you can focus on the fact that you can't do 20 pushups. You're welcome.

5) Put it in perspective.

ZOOM OUT. Think about five people you know and something happening in their lives right now. Take a second and really do this. See what I mean? Is the thing that has you in a mood REALLY WORSE than what those folks are managing right now? I'm not saying you have to shove your feelings aside because other people are suffering. What I AM saying is, keep your s*^& in perspective. Put it on a spectrum somewhere between running in a field of daisies and someone you know or love who is struggling in a profound way. Your pain is real and true, but where does it sit in comparison to others? A little perspective goes a long way to help shift your bad mood.


These are just a few ideas I have or healthy ways to move through a bad mood. Don't do any of them to eliminate the bad mood, just to move through it.

What did I miss? Leave a comment below.