Negative thoughts and a low or bad mood can be exhausting and frustrating. We feel helpless, have little appetite, lose concentration, and our productivity decreases. Whether at work or in our private life: if we keep struggling with a low mood, it’s time to find effective measures that will help us immediately.
During my work as Software Engineer, I often encounter missed deadlines, unfinished work, or bugs in production which lead to a bad mood and extra working hours. Over the years, I gathered several techniques and tried multiple strategies to face and overcome these negative thoughts to become productive again.
In this article, I want to share 7 personal tricks, that I use to improve my mood every time it decreases. However, these tricks work for me, they don’t have to work for you, but maybe they can help.
1. Start a mind journey
A study carried out by the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig concludes that not only events that we have experienced but also our pure imagination can lead us to experience something “positive” and learn from it. In the study, the brain activity of the subjects who thought of a person they value was measured using an MRI scan. The participants imagined how they spent time with these people in a place that they had previously evaluated neutrally.
The result: After the mental journey, the participants now rated the previously neutral location as positive. This means that if we are feeling a low mood at work or elsewhere, it can help us to start a little mental journey to improve our mood.
2. Attitude, attitude, and attitude!
What at first sounds like the words of a strict ballet teacher is a quick and easy way to make ourselves feel better by using the right attitude. No, that doesn’t just mean the inner attitude, but our posture. Scientists study the phenomenon under the term embodiment and found out that our posture can always evoke psychological reactions (and vice versa). For example, walking upright can promote well-being and self-confidence.
This means that if we are going through a low mood, it can help us to consciously pay attention to our posture, and to change it.
3. Journaling: Write down what's on your mind
Too many negative thoughts take up space and if they become too much, they can overwhelm us emotionally. However, repression only helps for a while. Journaling is an effective method that will take just a few minutes and will help us to verbalize our thoughts. Grab a pen, a booklet, or a piece of paper — and get rid of the thoughts. In this way, we give them the space they require, but at the same time, we take good care of ourselves.
Tip: We should not hold back when we write, even if we find what we have written unstructured or illogical. Not only thoughts are free, but also the way we regulate them when writing.
4. Get some fresh air
If we suffer from negative thoughts while working, we can change our workplace at short notice — outside. Especially while working in a home office, it is possible to move more flexibly. Whether garden, balcony, or the outside area of our favorite café. A WLAN connection is available almost everywhere, and if we end up in the meadow or at the lake, a mobile hotspot can help.
By the way: The fact that fresh air makes us happy is no longer a secret. Several study research results show that just 30 minutes should help to lift spirits and strengthen the immune system. We can also improve our concentration in this way.
So let us pack our things up and get some fresh air!
5. Call a friend
We all know bad moods. And also the feeling of it fading when we hear the familiar voice and uplifting words of a good friend. Sometimes it does not even need an explicit conversation about the mood swing.
Often, exchanging with a “real” person is enough instead of staying alone with our thoughts.
So let us call someone we care about.
6. What are we thankful for?
Neuroscientists, physicians, and psychologists have been dealing with questions about how gratitude affects our brain, body, and soul for several years. Feelings of gratitude can change a lot: relationships are strengthened, fears no longer feel quite powerful, and endorphins are released. These all help us to improve our mood. Therefore, when we feel an emotional low is approaching, it can be helpful to practice gratitude.
Whether it is health, financial well-being, our pet, the sunshine, our favorite food, what we can cook later, or the presence of a loved one.
Let us think about what we are most grateful for today.
7. Last but not least: breathe in deeply – and out again
Supplying the brain with oxygen, relaxing the muscles, or calming the pulse are some effects that come from conscious breathing. Also, during a low mood, it helps us to feel better again quickly.
The fact that breathing plays such an important role is shown by current findings from specialized respiratory therapists, who assume that breathing impacts our cardiovascular system. Breathing exercises can lower blood pressure, relieve inner tension, and have positive effects on the body and psyche.
By the way: Today, many breathing exercises exist, so we can choose one that works for us. Most exercises only take a few minutes, so we can quickly help ourselves when the next emotional low hits us.
Negative thoughts, bad moods, and low moods, caused by fears and worries, are real energy robbers. We feel depressed and want to hide away.
It is paramount to understand, that bad feelings also need space to be processed. It will not help if we suppress them!
But, with positive mental journeys, fresh air, conscious breathing, and verbalizing our thoughts, we can help lift our spirits within minutes.
One additional tip: It will take time to master simple things like positive thinking because it is a practice process. Above all, we should always be patient when trying new methods that will help us fight our mood swings!
If you enjoyed reading this article, consider commenting your valuable thoughts in the comments section. I would love to hear your feedback about these 7 tips to improve the mood.