HOW TO HANDLE A BAD MOOD…
Welcome to being a better man, the podcast that is here to remind all of us, to be a better man today than we were yesterday…that includes me. I get as much out of making this podcast as you get out of listening to it, so it is a win – win situation all around. I am your host, my name is Alf Herigstad.
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Ok, today’s episode is about how a man handles being in a bad mood. A lot of us like to think we are never in a bad mood. Some of us like to act as though bad moods and moodiness in general are the exclusive domain of women…lets be honest though, we all know that isn’t true.
We are all human beings and sometimes, all of us are subject to finding ourselves in a less than cheerful disposition, regardless of our gender, or our intellect, our positive attitude, or our sheer toughness…It happens.
There is a formula out there that I agree with; it says life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we react to what happens to us, That 90% is the part that matters…that same formula applies to our mood.
It’s tricky business because if your aren’t thinking about it, or if you are in denial about the mood you are in, it might express itself in ways that are not consistent with the kind of man you want to be.
For example when some guys are in a bad mood it can make them short tempered and they snap at people around them. Some guys might actually get mean and say ugly things they don’t really mean. Other guys just become distant and aloof, separating themselves from the people around them which causes everyone else to feel like they did something wrong. None of these are good things.
The causes of a bad mood are infinite. Sometimes someone can say something that rubs you the wrong way, it gets under your skin and acts like an infection in your mind without you even realizing it was there. Or maybe something happened that disappointed you, or maybe several little things didn’t go your way all in a row? Perhaps you disappointed yourself somehow? The fact is, that is doesn’t take much to cause our brains to get unhappy and that results in a bad mood.
Sometimes, it seems as though nothing happened at all, and you are still in a bad mood. It’s important to understand that our mental state is largely controlled by chemicals and hormones in our brain.
Some psychologists believe that irritability is the result of us mentally trying to avoid some kind of behavior or temptation…like using your willpower to avoid eating bad food, or to not yell at the barista who got your order wrong, or maintaining control in a disagreement, or not acting out when you are being criticized by your boss. These psychologist contend that this use of willpower drains our cognitive resources…so the harder we try to avoid something, the more likely we are to get in a bad mood.
When we cross the line and become angry, irritable, cynical or mean…something else happens; our blood pressure fluctuates and the production of the stress hormone cortisol is increased, which makes us even more unhappy, so it can be kind of a vicious cycle if we don’t do something about it.
OK, what should we do about it? We are men after all. We are the example of manhood in each moment we are living so how can we continue to be a better man even when plagued by a bad mood?
The first thing we can do is go ahead and admit that a bad mood is happening…this might be the hardest part. I have a very hard time with this one myself, I hate to admit that something has gotten out of my control. I pride myself on being in control of my mind and my language…and it is tough for me to let go and just admit it when I’m in a bad mood, but I’m getting better at it.
It’s also helpful to let the people around you know whats going on. Just be straight about it, say “Look I’m in a bad mood right now, I’m not sure why, give me a couple minutes to get over it.” That is a very mature, grown up thing to do and the people around you will appreciate knowing whats going on.
This first step is critical, because if you don’t admit it, then it is really hard to do anything constructive about it on purpose. You walk around denying it to yourself and when someone asks you whats wrong you bite their head off and scream “nothing” at them. That’s really not cool guys…that is what common men do, and we are not common men.
Once you have acknowledged that you are in a bad mood…there are several things you can do to correct it. First, doing anything that you enjoy will help, any hobby or activity that typically brings you joy, just start doing it, if that activity involves another person get their permission first…but even if you don’t feel like it in the moment, force yourself…fake it till you make it. After a couple minutes you might start feeling better.
Another thing you can do is have something to eat. That will help regulate your blood sugar if its getting a little low. Spicy food will release endorphins in your brain, foods with fatty acids are thought to have a positive effect on emotion, and…maybe eating food you love is one of those activities you enjoy. At any rate, you will probably start getting happier after a few bites.
If you love music you can put on some headphones and get a dose of natural dopamine injected into your brain! Dopamine will make you happier, possibly as fast as a three minute song, so try that out.
Finally, another fool-proof method of getting in a better mood is exercise. Lets say you are at work and your in a crappy mood…just go into the broom closet and do some vigorous push ups, or sprint around the block, there is almost always something that can be done. What is required is a moderate to high level of sustained activity, until breathing starts to become difficult…that is when the endorphins are released, and endorphins are another one of those natural things that make you feel great. It doesn’t last forever, but it can get you over whatever funky mood you are in.
Look, aside from being a jerk to the people around us, the problem with being in a bad mood is that it narrows our entire perception of everything. In other words…instead of being relaxed and happy and able to take in and perceive all of your surroundings simultaneously…when you are in a bad mood it gives you tunnel vision, it’s hard to concentrate on more than one thing at a time.
That is not a great survival skill because you won’t see the saber toothed tiger coming at you, but you can also use that to your advantage.
If you find yourself in a bad mood…it might be a good time to tackle that project that requires that kind of focused concentration. I once new this lady and It was easy to tell when she was unhappy about something, because her entire house would be spotless. Whenever she got upset she went on a cleaning frenzy. She knew how to turn her narrow minded bad mood into something positive, and that’s something all of us can do if there isn’t another way to get over it…just use it to get stuff done, without taking it out on the people around you.
I should also mention that way too often the way some people deal with a bad mood is to self medicate with drugs or alcohol…that never really works, it usually just makes things a lot worse, so I strongly advise you against it. If you start out drinking in a bad mood, you’ll probably wind up in a worse mood.
OK, that’s it for today guys. Now head out into the world and pay attention, if you find yourself in a bad mood just admit it, and be responsible for it. How you deal with the fact that you are in a bad mood is what really matters. Try some of these tips I gave you but mostly be aware that you are responsible for everything you do, regardless of your mood. Keep that in mind while your out there being a better man today, than you were yesterday.
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