Sometimes someone asks you, “Hey, you all right? You seem like you’re in a bad mood.” To which you reply, “Why yes, I am in a bad mood. Someone was really rude to me at the grocery store, and it just got under my skin a little. But thank you for asking. That alone already makes me feel better.” And you hug, and ice cream falls from the sky, and golly, things just perk up.
Then sometimes when someone asks, you say “I don’t fucking know why I’m in bad mood, so just leave me the fuck alone!” Then you flip a kitchen table, get a carton of ice cream from the freezer, lock yourself in your room, and eat the whole thing with your bare hands.
Granted, both scenarios may be slightly exaggerated. The point is, I’ll be talking about shitty moods today.
Shitty moods are different from regular bad moods. With regular bad moods, you usually have an understanding of why you’re upset. Someone said something really mean to you at school. You worked really hard on a project that didn’t turn out the way you wanted. A friend cancels plans with you, plans you were looking forward to all week. Something generally happens that disappoints you or makes you mad, and you can easily explain why.
Shitty moods appear to be more irrational. They’re more personal, and usually require a little more digging or understanding to explain yourself. Of course, reasons don’t really matter when you’re in a shitty mood, all that matters is that you’re in one and you usually don’t want to deal with anyone or anything. And it’s hard to be around people, even people that you genuinely like and want to help you, because you can’t just give a reason for why you’re so upset. The best thing is usually to just wait it out somewhere by yourself until you settle down and can think more rationally, because when you’re like this, everything seems far worse than it really is. And when you’re combining shitty moods and an onslaught of negative thinking, your day is bound to end in tears.
So what can you do to calm your shitty mood before you feel even worse about yourself? The first thing you should do is find somewhere quiet where you can breathe. Go to the bathroom if you’re at school or work. Sit in your car if you’re at a noisy house or party. Just make sure it’s quiet. Then close your eyes and breathe. Don’t think about anything else but breathing. Focus on inhaling and exhaling. Take nice, long breaths, too. Short, quick breaths aren’t going to calm you down, so take it slow. And breathe through your nose. Breathing through your mouth tends to produce quicker breaths and sighing, and neither are going to help here. Just nice, long, slow breaths. Do this for five or ten minutes. You won’t be instantly better, but you should be at least a little calmer. You’ll hopefully start to think more clearly, too. Try doing this fairly regularly. Every hour or two, give some dedicated time to breathing.
If you feel like you’re going to be irrationally bitter to everyone, you probably need some time to yourself to cool down. Unfortunately, you’re probably going to have to do some interacting at some point during the day, and depending on who you have to deal with, this can either make your shitty mood better or worse. If you deal with people you can trust or feel comfortable enough with, give them a head’s up. I have a friend and a couple of coworkers who know I can sometimes get into these shitty moods, and they understand and give me space. They help or show support if they can, but they know as well as I do that I just need some time. If you don’t have anyone like that around, just keep trying your best to make it through the day. Do your breathing and keep in mind that other people don’t know what’s going through your head right now, so try not to let your shitty mood make you take it out on them.
When you are able to get some time to yourself, you need to relax. Everyone’s different, but I’ll let you in on some of the things that help calm me down. Exercising is usually good. Chances are you’ll have a lot of pent up energy after being in a shitty mood, so releasing some of it through exercise helps. Regular exercise tends to help put you in a better mood in the long run, too.
Hot showers or baths can also help. Well, I can’t really vouch for baths. My bathtub doesn’t have a drain stopper anymore, so that option’s out. But hot showers are great for relieving tension. You won’t be bothered (unless you live with unusually obtrusive people), the hot water will make you feel better, and you can just stand there for as long as you need to while the water peppers your body.
Turn Facebook’s chat off. Even if you’re by yourself, you see all those people who are still online, and you can still feel the weight of not wanting to deal with people when you’re on it. In fact, just don’t deal with Facebook in general. I know, I know. The latest updates of which bars people are at or Instagram-imported pictures of food aren’t going to browse themselves. But honestly, my Facebook feed just makes me feel more overwhelmed when I’m in a shitty mood. Check it once a day until you’re feeling more like yourself, if you even have to check it at all. I usually like to separate myself from Facebook, Twitter, and my E-mails until I’m doing a little better. Focus more on you rather than what other people are doing.
Play some video games. I used to be a fairly big gamer in my teens and early 20’s. Now… ugh. I don’t know what happened to video games, but I’m just not interested anymore. I still like playing the old ones, though, and I usually play video games more regularly when I’m depressed or in these shitty moods. Bring out something you grew up with, something that you know makes you feel better on the inside. The Donkey Kong Country games for Super Nintendo usually help me out, as well as any Mario or Zelda game for Nintendo 64.
Drink something warm. Nothing alcoholic. You don’t want to mix alcohol and your shitty mood. No coffee, either. You don’t want to be more alert, you want to relax. Try tea. I’ll admit, I’m not really a tea guy, but I don’t know how many times I’ve read or been told to drink hot tea to calm down, so I’m trying to get used to it (for what it’s worth, it does seem to help at least a little). I’ve heard chamomile is great, but I’ve yet to try it. Hot chocolate works fairly well for me, but be warned: it can still keep you up at night.
Go shopping, but don’t go overboard. If you haven’t bought anything fun lately, go treat yourself to something affordable. I’m sure you’ve wanted some new shirts or pants for a while. Go buy a new set of clothing. At the very least, you’ll know you have one less thing to worry about doing.
Relaxing music is always good. My mp3 player has different shuffle options for different moods, so sometimes I’ll put on the “mellow” selection to help me calm down. Everyone’s music tastes are different, so I’ll leave it to you to decide what works best, but some of my favorite songs to help me calm down are “Home” by Barenaked Ladies, “When You Were Mine” by Cyndi Lauper, “Name” by Goo Goo Dolls, “Through the Dark” by KT Tunstall, “The Background” by Third Eye Blind, and “Home” by Vanessa Carlton.
There are some YouTube videos I have in a playlist for this kind of situation, too. Some are for helping with self-doubt, some are for advice, but almost all of them do a pretty good job of helping me cool off. There’s one particular video about dealing with panic attacks and anxiety issues that ALWAYS makes me feel better, if for no other reason than it makes me feel like someone else out there feels some of the same things I do. It’s by Tessa Violet (aka meekakitty), and I’ll link that video here if you want to check it out.
Relaxajin is also one of my favorite YouTube channels that helps me calm down (it even helps me focus when I’m having trouble writing). It’s the second channel of Lucahjin, a popular Let’s Player. Unlike her primary channel, though, Relaxajin is dedicated to soft spoken, soothing videos meant to help you take a deep breath and ease your mind. When I was in a particularly shitty mood last week, I plugged my headphones into the computer, closed my eyes, and listened to one of her videos. This one is another of my favorites, one that I’ve returned to many times when I’m kept up at night with negative thoughts. This particular video is a Q&A; she answers submitted questions from her listeners that deal with topics such as acceptance, moving on, and relationships. I highly recommend checking it out here. If you’re in a shitty mood, she’ll probably touch on something you’re close to, and if not, it’s still a very relaxing video.
Hopefully some of these will help you comfort your shitty mood. I know it’s really tough being in one, but hang in there. Sometimes it can take a while. Last summer I spent two months trying to get out of a really shitty mood. Don’t let it overwhelm you. It takes some time. Time by yourself, time getting to know what’s eating you and why it’s bothering you so much. And eventually, time with other people. It’s hard, but after enough time try making yourself do something with a good friend or someone close that you can trust. Sometimes a good night out is the final push from shitty mood to good mood again.
And if you find yourself frequently getting into shitty moods, try seeking some professional help. I’ve spent a large portion of college seeing a few therapists on campus and reading self-help and psychology books, and I don’t think I could have made it to where I am now without them. Therapy can be expensive, but at least check out your options. If you’re in school, chances are you can see some kind of counselor for free.
Whatever you do, at least remember to keep breathing.