4 Activities for When You’re Stuck in a Bad Mood

Bad moods can be addictive. That's why you need to adopt these four activities to save yourself whenever you're stuck in a bad mood.

Do you ever find yourself stuck in a bad mood? For whatever reason, a cloud of negativity, sadness, or depression has entered your mind. I know how frustrating this state can be. The bad mood itself sucks the joy out of each day. As the anger grows, the longer it takes to pull yourself out of your discontent.

Living with bouts of bad moods used to be very common for me. Almost like a perfected pattern, I could count on every few weeks being occupied by a downturn in my emotional state. But, after putting in a lot of work and gaining more control over my mind, the pattern ceased.

That is, until recently. For no apparent reason, I woke up one morning once again consumed by a foul mood. It was increasingly frustrating when days two, three, and four came along. I thought I had enough control over myself to immediately dispel any type of thinking I didn’t want.

This was quite a humbling experience that brought me face to face with a harsh truth, I’m not perfect. Now, this is a no-brainer. None of us are perfect and seeking perfection only sets us up to view ourselves as failures.

What I learned from this experience is that none of us are immune to bad moods. Just because you spend a lot of time strengthening your mind and building a positive self-image does not mean you’re impenetrable to negativity.

However, though bad moods are guaranteed to creep up on us from time to time, this doesn’t mean we must allow them to stay. By the fourth day, I was fed up. A determination grew within me to put this terrible mood to rest.

What I would like to do is outline the activities I used to get rid of my bad mood. But I think it would be interesting to first examine the negative effects bad moods can have on your performances.

How Bad Moods Affect Your Performance

Bad moods and peak performance do not mix. The way a negative attitude impacts your mind causes all sorts of problems when it comes to performing your best.

When I was subject to a cyclical pattern of bad moods, I could only hope one did not land on a game day. If a negative attitude took hold of me the morning of a game, I may as well have told the coach to bench me.

This was due to the many attributes that accompany a bad mood. Whether these traits make up a bad mood or are a side effect of one, I’m not sure. But what I am positive about is the negative impact they have on your level of play.

The most dangerous of these characteristics include negative self-talk, low self-confidence, a lack of motivation, and brain fog.

Negative Self-Talk

When a bad mood takes over, talking positively to yourself will become a challenge. Naturally, it will be easy to sink back into all sorts of negative internal dialogue. This happens because negative self-talk fuels your bad mood.

As you continue to speak down to yourself, your bad mood worsens. Now you find yourself in a terrible spiral. You continue to speak badly to yourself, this heightens your bad mood, which then drives more negative self-talk.

Believing in yourself is a key component of performing your best. Speaking badly to yourself undermines any belief you may have had. As your level of play drops, more opportunities for degrading internal dialogue pop up.

Low Self-Confidence

Driven by the negative self-talk, your self-confidence will begin to weaken.

Self-confidence refers to the belief and trust you have in your skills. With the negative self-talk I just described, the first hit will be the belief you have in yourself. This refers to your overall level of self-worth.

Next comes the trust you have in your skills. As you begin to think worse of yourself, the belief you held in your skills will diminish.

Stuck in a bad mood, it’s difficult to see any ray of positivity. Confidence in your skills requires an optimistic outlook. Such positive foresight cannot survive when you hold onto a negative attitude.

Lack of Motivation

When you’re in a bad mood, do you find it easy to generate motivation? I know that for myself when a bad mood strikes all I want to do is sulk around. Any drive or grit I may have had seems to disappear.

We all need motivation to perform well. However, when you are filled with negativity, finding the passion to put all you’ve got into your performance is not possible. As a result, you won’t play with the same level of intensity.

Also, lacking motivation will have an impact outside of a singular event. If a bad mood consumes you for days and weeks, it will be hard to train with the same amount of effort.

Whenever my mood turns south, training and working towards my goals do not hold the same excitement. Rather than feeling driven to better myself, I become complacent. Low motivation means less hard work and competitions performed at lower levels of intensity.

Brain Fog

Spend any amount of time in a bad mood and you will find your thinking become sluggish, fuzzy, and dull. This is referred to as brain fog. For me, it’s like a gray sheet has covered my mind that I can’t quite see through it.

When dealing with brain fog, it will be more difficult to focus, your memory will be worsened, and your thinking will not be as sharp.

As an athlete, to perform optimally you must ensure your mind is sharp and focused. You have to be able to direct your attention where you want and shut out all distractions. This is very difficult to do when dealing with brain fog.

Having a foggy mind as a result of a bad mood is similar to what’s experienced when hungover. Thoughts are clouded, focus is lost, and you seem to be living in a haze. This is not an optimal state to be in when you want to perform your best.

The Addictiveness of Negativity

The additive nature of negativity is powerful. When I am stuck in a bad mood, it’s honestly the most addictive situation I can find myself in. That is why I fear being in such a state. I know how incredibly difficult it is to pull myself out of it.

My theory on why being in a bad mood is so addictive comes from a simple idea: negativity feels good.

There is something quite terrifying about how good it can feel to wallow in our own foul mood. It seems as soon as one idea of self-pity or negativity comes into our mind, if not countered in a split second, the seeds of addiction begin to sprout.

One negative thought turns into another. The worse it gets, the more prideful you feel. You want to hold onto that anger, sadness, disappointment, or whatever you’re feeling because it makes you feel powerful.

Here’s where the struggle with negativity truly becomes difficult. We are the only ones who can pull ourselves out of such a funk. Yes, other people may help us laugh or see the bright side of a situation, but you and I are the only ones who can dig deep within us and change the way we feel.

This poses a major problem. The worse your mood becomes, the more addictive the negative feelings are, and the harder you find it to force yourself to think positively. In this situation, I can actually feel the internal struggle taking place.

Part of me loves to feel bad. I am swimming in self-pity and no one will rescue me. But then, there is another side of me who knows better. That’s the part desperately trying to pull me from the depths of my despair.

It takes incredible amounts of persistence and self-determination to alter your mood in this state. The easy option is to blame others and sink deeper into negative thoughts. But as long as we do that, we forget where the true power lies.

If we hold onto the belief that change comes from the external world, we will begin to look for ways to alter our emotions. This is where reaching for external stimulants comes into play, and as I’ve said, blaming others for how we feel.

Only once we relinquish the blame and turn the responsibility on ourselves can change occur. What’s next is no easy task. This is where we have to fight with ourselves to let go of the addiction and take back control of our emotions.

That is why it’s helpful to have a rescue plan whenever you find yourself stuck in a bad mood.

How to Pull Yourself Out of a Bad Mood

The four activities I am about to discuss come after a crucial decision made on your part. You have to decide you are willing to put in the work to break free of the foul mood that has overtaken you.

As I outlined in the previous section, negativity is addictive. The easy option is to simply sink deeper into your emotions and feel even more sorry for yourself. But that will never amount to any change occurring in the way you feel.

There has to be a decisive choice made by you to put forth the effort required to alter your mood. Funny enough, what typically works best for me is getting mad at myself. I just get so fed up with the sour attitude and depressive mood I’m in. Though I try to steer clear of providing anger as advice, in this instance it may be the fuel you need.

Once you are at the point where you’ve had enough and are ready to change, it’s time to embark on activity number one.

#1: Identify Why/What

Introspection is the best way to determine why we are feeling a certain way. This requires a certain level of self-awareness to look within yourself and at your environment to figure out what is causing your mood.

Our emotions are driven by the thoughts we have. For the most part, these thoughts will be a reaction to the world around us or to other thoughts within our minds. This can include a situation that ignited your bad mood, worry about something not going the way you want, or disappointment within yourself.

That’s how you need to begin thinking in regard to your mood. What or why are you feeling the way you do?

I can think back to the many bad moods I got stuck in during college and they were usually sparked by a bad game or practice. If I played poorly, my whole attitude would shift, and not just for that day. I would be caught in a tailwind of negative thinking.

The situation could also get as simple as a bad day hitting in the batting cage. So, never think the cause for your bad mood is silly or not “big” enough to change the way you feel. Don’t judge the what or why right now, simply do your best to identify it.

#2: Write it Out

For the second activity, we are going to play off the idea of working through our feelings. There is a lot of truth in the benefits of processing our emotions. Writing offers you a completely safe space to work through any negative thoughts and feelings you may be having.

The more we bottle up our emotions, the greater the power they hold over us. This shows we are afraid to face how we feel. And that which we fear controls us. So, to take the power away from fear we must work through our emotions.

I find writing to be the best medium for this. Though, if you prefer talking it out to someone that works as well. However, the problem I often run into when talking to people is a level of embarrassment that can accompany being completely vulnerable.

When trying to work through a bad mood, that embarrassment can have a counter effect. Instead of helping to change our state, we may worsen the way we feel. That is why writing is my favorite option.

Through the process of writing, more details about why you’re feeling that way will be uncovered. Also, it acts as a way to release all that negativity from your mind. When I write to process the way I feel, it’s like I’m emptying a weight off my mind.

Whether you choose to write or talk to someone, working through your emotions is an important step to changing the way you feel.

#3: Exercise

The most immediate reprieve I can get from a bad mood is exercise. As soon as I begin to move, an instant change is noticed in the way I feel. This is due to the incredible benefits exercise has on mental health.

In an article written on helpguide.org a study illustrates the effects of exercise on depression. The study was performed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The results showed just fifteen minutes of running or an hour of walking a day reduces depression by 26%.

That is incredible! Simply by getting up and moving we can alter the way we feel. Endorphins are to thank for this increase in mood. When we exercise, endorphins are released in our brains. These are neurochemicals in the brain responsible for minimizing pain and increasing pleasure.

This really makes sense to me based on the practical experience I’ve had with exercise and my mood. It has always served as my getaway and medicine. A quick jog, a lifting session, or a walk immediately causes a shift in my emotional state.

The next time you are stuck in a bad mood, get yourself moving.

#4: Focus on Gratitude

It’s natural to have the drive to continually want more. This is the basis for desiring to become a better version of ourselves. Being a mental performance coach, my work is focused on the concept of self-improvement.

But can this same desire to better ourselves actually be the cause of our bad moods? Yes, and if not the cause, a worsening factor. This happens when we are trying to improve ourselves and gain more out of life and are currently dissatisfied with our situation.

The solution to this is gratitude. By focusing on what we can be grateful for right now, we shift our perspective on life. Instead of working from a place of discontent, we are seeking to improve that which we are already thankful for.

I can honestly say when stuck in a bad mood finding things to be grateful for is tough. I begin to think how stupid a practice it is and how ridiculous I’m being. However, after I truly feel grateful for all that I currently have, my negative attitude begins to fade away.

Gratitude is the antidote to a bad mood. How can we feel depressed and at the same time feel thankful for our lives and all that we have?

Take a few minutes, write down what you’re thankful for, and really feel the positive emotions that accompany the gratitude.

Final Thoughts

Finding yourself stuck in a bad mood is not a fun situation to be in. But, when caught in the midst of one, the addictive nature of the negativity draws you further in. You have to have the will to pull yourself out.

No one can change the way we feel except ourselves. By taking action, you can alter the way you feel. You must identify why you are feeling so down. What is causing your mood? Process your emotions through writing or talking if you prefer.

Get up and move. Exercise is an incredible remedy when feeling down. Lastly, remember to focus on gratitude. What do you have to be grateful for right now?

Do you have other ways of getting yourself out of a bad mood? If so, I’d love to hear them.

I hope that this article was helpful, and if you enjoyed it please share the post so others can learn how to pull themselves out of a bad mood.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.

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Eli Straw

Eli is a sport psychology consultant and mental game coach who works 1-1 with athletes to help them improve their mental skills and overcome any mental barriers keeping them from performing their best. He has an M.S. in psychology and his mission is to help athletes and performers reach their goals through the use of sport psychology & mental training.

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