Fixing a bad mood: Change the body to change the mind

We all find ourselves in bad moods from time to time.

Such is life. We can't have the ups without the downs. You gotta get pissed off and punch a pillow every now and then. Life needs the full range of emotion.

Sometimes, though, it seems we can hold onto bad moods for much longer than we really need to.

At least for me that is definitely true.

You can get addicted to pain and unfortunately I see people I care about get so caught up in negativity because it at least feels like something (unlike boredom which is a kind of numbness). Seeing yourself as a victim can be quite satisfying in a strange way.

Depression has passed down my family line and I'm sure I've inherited it. My personality is also quite low-energy and even-keeled and I've looked for ways to give myself a boost.

Our mood plays a huge part in our fitness. A healthy state of mind is critical for making choices that support our body and move us toward success, however success is defined for each of us.

Fortunately I've been blessed with access to books and online resources that have given me tools to modify my state and I wanted to share one of them with you that I've been using lately.

If you don't care to read, watch the video version instead here (otherwise continue reading below the video).

Change the body to change the mind

What they don't teach you in school (which they should) is that the feeling of sadness, depression, or a bad mood is absolutely a modifiable state of mind.

Realize that these feelings are a nothing more than a self-supporting network of negative words, beliefs, and chemicals in the body. They aren't permanent, they aren't who you are, and you have full control to change them.

An important note: I asked my girlfriend to give this article a look-over and she gave me one major key to consider before beginning this practice. She wrote in big bold letters "ACCEPTANCE - IT'S ALRIGHT TO FEEL BAD". She wisely pointed out that it would be a mistake to think that you are somehow invalid or wrong to be having these unpleasant feelings. When you're feeling bad about something, start by not judging yourself and having acceptance. It's normal, it's perfectly fine. If you resist and shame yourself, you'll only make matters worse.

Once you've accepted where you are, you can begin the method below.

The Outside-In Method

One way to change your unpleasant mood is by using what I'm calling the Outside-In Method. It's rather difficult to try to think your way out of negative thinking because your body also feels bad and that bad body feeling is part of the reason bad thoughts are arising.

We have to change the way the body feels first, to create an environment that will support happy thoughts. We do this by forcing the body into happy positions.

A few ways to do this are:

I also sometimes like to beat my chest like a gorilla and make a silly Tarzan hollar. Don't be afraid to get weird.

Happy Thought Inception

Once you've done this, notice that you've likely forgotten the negative thoughts you had earlier and are probably feeling much better. Great! Now your mind is susceptible to happy, positive, supportive thoughts.

Use this time to consider the bigger picture. I like to think thoughts like "stop taking everything so seriously" and the popular "life is much too short".

It's best to then get up and keep moving the body. Do something creative like painting or writing, or go for a bike ride, a long walk or a jog.

It starts with awareness

That is the technique I've been using to pull myself out of a funk. But one important part I've left out is that you have to be able to catch yourself in the middle (or beginning) of the mood.

What good is the technique if you never remember to use it?

You can start by writing it down somewhere like on a sticky note and putting it somewhere visible to you every day. You can also try something like meditation to help develop your ability to observe your thoughts from an outside perspective (remember, you aren't the thoughts, you are the awareness behind them!)

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