10 powerful ways to overcome anger or a bad mood

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You argue with your best friend. You don’t get the promotion you wanted. You’re struggling through bad traffic and bad drivers to get to somewhere fast.

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All of these examples could trigger anger or a bad mood. It is normal to have a bad mood or to be upset sometimes. However, it’s important to strike the right balance between having a bad mood or feeling angry about wallowing for too long – and let those negative feelings take control.

It is possible to overcome a bad mood or anger, but it takes a commitment to do so. “You can control your life or your emotions. You just have to practice, ”says Annette Nunez, psychotherapist and founder and director of Breakthrough Interventions, a Denver-based therapeutic practice that helps parents.

Here are 10 powerful ways to overcome a bad mood or anger:

1. Acknowledge how you are feeling.
2. Ask: “Why?”
3. Exercise.
4. Eat.
5. Try mindfulness.
6. Smile.
7. Use visual reminders.
8. Call a friend.
9. Let go.
10. Ask for help if needed.

10 tips for getting over a bad mood or being angry

1. Acknowledge what you are feeling.
Some people may encourage you to ignore a bad mood or difficult feelings, but that’s actually not healthy in the long run. “Burying and suppressing feelings is difficult, so difficult that it often doesn’t work,” says Amanda Fialk, registered clinical social worker and head of clinical services for The Dorm, a treatment center in New York and Washington, DC.

When you don’t deal with and acknowledge a bad mood or anger, you put yourself at a higher risk of:

  • Harmful and dangerous habits. This causes some people to turn to substances like drugs or alcohol to numb their pain.
  • Solitude. “Emotions are a natural part of the human experience,” says Fialk. If you consistently avoid negative feelings, you can create an emotional wall around you that prevents you from making a real connection with others. Over time, you might feel isolated and lonely.
  • Physical pain. Overwhelming emotional stress puts stress on the body and can lead to headaches, digestive issues, and several other health issues.

Instead of trying to bury your negative emotion, realize how you are feeling. Name the emotion or mood. It can be as simple as saying, “I’m in a bad mood” or “I’m angry right now.”

Also take a minute to reflect on your physical feelings, advises Fialk. For example:

  • Is your stomach in a knot?
  • Is your heart beating fast?

Recognizing how you are feeling can help it go through faster, says Sophie Lazarus, psychologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus.

2. Ask: “Why?”
Bad humor and anger don’t come out of nowhere, says Nunez. Think about the reasons why you feel the way you do. This can help you identify changes that might be needed in your life so that you don’t repeat the same life scenarios over and over again. “Emotions can give us important information, and we don’t want to ignore it or push it away,” Lazarus says.

If you experience anger on a regular basis, take a closer look at a few patterns in your anger, advises Nunez. When you feel calmer, write or talk to someone you trust:

  • How often do you feel angry.
  • How long does it last.
  • What is causing your anger.

This can be the first step in breaking the pattern of anger. Sometimes talking with a trusted friend can be enough to overcome the anger pattern. Other times, you may need to seek help from a mental health professional.

3. Exercise.
Something that makes your blood pump faster can give you a physical outlet to express your emotions. Exercise also helps release ‘happy’ chemicals in the brain., like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, all of which help reduce stress. Even a short period of intense exercise, like a few minutes of push-ups or jumps, can be enough to put your mind and body in a more positive place, Lazarus says.

4. Eat.
Sometimes your bad mood or your anger physical cause. You might be tired. Or maybe you don’t have enough to eat. In that case, grab a little piece of chocolate, a healthy snack bar, or something that can help you feel less “hungry” (hungry and angry), advises Nunez.

5. Try mindfulness.
You have probably seen countless examples of mindfulness practices, like meditation and yoga, can improve your life. The devotees seem to effortlessly attain a calmer state of mind. Practicing meditation, self-reflection, or yoga are good for helping to just let your emotions be rather than fueling them more, Lazarus says. However, it takes practice to achieve this.

If you’re new to mindfulness, start with a simple goal, like sitting quietly for five minutes after waking up to set an intention for the day. “I won’t be triggered if someone cuts me off in the street” or “I won’t be upset if my colleague doesn’t say hello” are examples of emotion-diffusing intentions you can define. Try to practice this regularly, and it will become a habit.

6. Smile.
Smiling makes the brain think you’re happy, says Nunez. Smiling triggers endorphins, or “happy” chemicals, in your brain. When you feel bad, smile. “It might sound wrong or wrong, but your brain doesn’t know anything different,” she says.

7. Use visual reminders to help you.
Nunez recommends that clients write positive statements on notecards or sticky paper and place them in their home. Some statements they might write include:

  • Breathe.
  • You got this.
  • Smile.
  • It’s not so bad.

These positive statements work to make you think differently about what appears to be a bad situation, she explains. When you are upset you will see the reminders and you will probably start to act differently.

8. Call a friend.
Talking about your bad mood or anger with a trusted friend is a productive way to recognize and work through how you are feeling. This conversation with a friend has a side effect. “When we get involved, we have the chance to have a new experience,” says Lazarus. This new experience can help you forget your mood.

9. Let go.
Make the choice not to cling to the emotion you are feeling. It may take a few tries before you can fully release the pain or anger, says Fialk. You may have to do something symbolic to achieve this, like writing a letter to someone who made you angry, and then tearing the letter to shreds, she says.

10. Ask for help if needed.
Having anger or a bad mood is normal. However, it is time to seek help from a mental health professional If you:

  • You feel angry or cranky for several weeks.
  • Find that your bad mood or anger is interfering with your ability to get along with others.
  • Take out your bad mood or anger on other people.
  • Simple everyday irritations – like standing in line or getting cut off by another driver – make you angry or angry.

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