Beat Your Bad Mood
It’s happened to all of us: something annoying or frustrating happens and we end up spending the rest of the day in a bad mood. Worse, it often leads to extra muscle tension that can affect the position of your spine and exacerbate headaches, neck pain and back pain.
It’s not easy to snap out of negative emotions, but the only person that can beat them is you! Here are five natural, proven tips that can make a big difference in helping you feel better. Don’t let your bad mood overstay its welcome!
If You’re Stressed
Fake it til you make it! Even forcing a smile helps reduce stress levels, according to research from the University of Kansas. The researchers had a group of college students hold chopsticks in their mouths in such a way to simulate either a neutral expression or a smile, then told the participants to hold their hands in ice water. They found that the forced-smilers had reduced heart rates and less anxiety compared to the non-smilers. The researchers concluded that you don’t need to actually be happy to reap the benefits of smiling.
What gives? Your brain is wired to receive feedback from your body that indicates how you’re feeling. Just as your mind controls your body, your body can also control your mind. Activating the specific facial muscles involved in smiling tells your brain “Calm down. You’re happy.” So instead of getting angry at the guy who just cut you off on the highway, force a smile instead!
If You’re Just Feeling Bummed Out
Take a break from work and go for a walk outdoors! A study published last month in The British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that simply taking a ten-minute walk in the park can significantly improve your mood. The researchers conducting the study recruited 12 young adults who had portable EEGs attached to their scalps while they took walks through either a park-like setting or a busy commercial district. The result of the EEG scans? Walks in nature had a restorative effect, improving energy, attention and stress levels.
If You’re Angry
Crank up the classical music! German scientists found that those who listened to Mozart or Beethoven before encountering a conflict acted less aggressively and had less residual anger after the event. Listening to more aggressive genres of music had the opposite outcome.
A separate study also found that listening to certain types of music can cause you to be a more dangerous driver. The researchers studied the driving habits of eight men and eight women, and looked at the driver’s “speed, acceleration and braking” in relation to the genre of music they were listening to. Music with a faster tempo increased the heart rate of the driver, causing them to pay more attention to the music and less to the responsibility of driving. Interestingly, hip-hop music made female drivers behave most aggressively on the road and heavy metal had the same effect on men.
If You’re Nervous
You probably knew this one was coming at some point: Sit up straight! A recent study from the journal Biofeedback demonstrated that having a slouched, sloppy posture while sitting or standing can lead to feelings of depression and lowered energy levels. Scientists recruited 110 participants, and asked half of them to walk around in a slouched position while the other half skipped. The participants with bad posture reported a decrease in energy and more negative feelings while the skippers reported an energy boost and more positive emotions.
Living in the 21st century, many Americans spend the majority of their day slumped in front of a computer or television. If you can make even a slight change to the way you position your body it can have a big effect on your mood, energy levels, and overall health. Plus, you’ll be making your spine (and your chiropractor) happy!
If Nothing Else Works
Take the trash out! As silly as it sounds, the simple act of writing down your negative thoughts on paper and tossing it in the garbage can eliminate your bad mood, according to a study in Psychological Science. In one of their experiments, the researchers asked 83 participants to write down critical thoughts about themselves and then either throw the notes away or keep them. The results: the participants who kept their notes tended to rate themselves more negatively while those who trashed their notes had improved self-evaluations. The action gives a sense of finality to your thoughts, tricking your brain into thinking the bad thoughts are gone.