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How to Shake Off a Bad Mood

By Debbie Mandel

We all know how it feels to be stuck in a bad mood. Sometimes there is a biological component to our bad mood, hormonally driven, lack of sleep, poor eating habits or too many stimulants. Some moods emanate from home, an angry argument. And others seem to have no specific trigger, out of nowhere a darker veil descends. Research from the University of Pennsylvania by Professor Sigal Barsade may explain: Bad moods are contagious.

Barsade clarifies that you unconsciously mimic the people around you. If someone in your midst is negative, speaks loudly with an edge, or is tapping his foot impatiently, you will absorb that mood. As a result you will feel more irritable, less compromising and more likely to yell at someone or send that hostile email you wished you had never sent.

However, if you are infected by someone elseís bad mood and donít even know it, what can you do to get over it?
  • Start cultivating an awareness of other peopleís body language, tone of voice and word choice. When you are near someone who is frowning, how do you feel? Practice developing a radar for peopleís energy. Self-awareness will break it.
  • Donít be afraid to shed other peopleís toxicity by distancing yourself, especially if you are in eye contact which can become hypnotic. After all, you are careful about eating foods with pesticides and artificial ingredients, why should toxic people be different?
  • Exercise it away! While you move away from negativity, keep on walking to get rid of the anxiety and uneasiness. Exercise will rebalance your neural circuitry and change your mood. Meditation, watching a comedy or calling up a positive friend will also positively change brain activity.
All bad moods are not created equal.
If your bad mood is in response to someone elseís, thatís easier to shake off. However, if you are in a negative loop and canít stop worrying and focus on what you have to do, then you have to seriously de-activate the bad thought by logically exposing the distortion.

For example, you are furious that your husband Jack is very late and has kept you waiting at the restaurant. You are caught up in the loop that he is inconsiderate and selfish. You canít believe that you could have married such a man. In the past when Jack finally arrived, you would have eaten your dinner together silently and angrily. You would have glared at Jack all the way home in the car and gone to bed facing the wall.

However, if you deactivate this thought with: ďI prefer that Jack isnít late. But thatís not how Jack behaves. Who ever said that Jack has to live according to the rules of my universe? Iím sure there are some qualities I have that irk him too. We are not clones. Besides he isnít just late for me, heís always late. Thatís just the way he gets caught up in what he is doing and loses track of time. I used to find that adorable. Soon Jack arrives apologizing profusely, yet you smile lovingly. Boy, is he ever surprised!

The next time you are in a bad mood, ask yourself: Is it you or them?
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com