Whether its road rage, husband rage, or you’re furious with your boss, here are 10 ways to blast bad moods and quell anxiety. By Jane Worthington.
Focus on the positives
Struggling to be cheery with your partner? Take 60 seconds to write down all the things you loved about them when you met them, and focus on those.
Go go, H20
With the brain made up of almost 80 per cent water, it’s a no-brainer that being dehydrated will not only affect your concentration but your mood, too. A US study found that volunteers who had a limited water intake after exercise experienced significantly greater mood deterioration.
Sing opera on the way to work
If road rage gets the better of you, instead of bashing the steering wheel or abusing the guy in the next lane, sing loudly in an operatic voice: ’La la la la, why are you doing that, you silly person’. “Using humour can have a huge impact on whether something small snowballs into a true, volcanic anger that can last for hours,” says Melbourne counsellor and psychotherapist Meredith Fuller. “It’s also good to get up 15 minutes earlier. Assume that there will always be hiccups.”
Feeling edgy? Deliberately talk to your partner, boss or child in the polite voice you’d use when chatting to a stranger. One University of British Columbia study asked 31 volunteer couples to interact with either their partner or a stranger of the opposite sex. The volunteers reported elevated moods when talking to a stranger compared to their partner with whom they knew they could get away with being bored or blasé. “We make an extra effort when meeting strangers because we want them to like us,” says study author Elizabeth Dunn. “By trying to be more pleasant we end up actually feeling better, but we tend to overlook this benefit.”
Do something really useful…
“When you feel a case of the crankies coming on, take your mind off it by doing something really useful,” says Fuller. “Create your own blog, sell something you don’t need online, or write a mentor letter to someone who’s really changed your life for the better. It will give you a sense of achievement and leave you feeling that a bad day wasn’t all bad.”
Go to bed an hour earlier
In one study of brain imaging, when people missed a night of sleep and viewed disturbing images, there was a lot more activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain which processes emotions. “We found that the deep emotional centres of the brain were approximately 60 per cent more reactive when sleep deprived,” says study author Mathew Walker, from the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.
Sign up today for something such as a relay race for cancer research, or volunteer for tuckshop duty at your child’s school. Studies show that volunteers have higher levels of happiness.
Aim for five to one
US studies show you need five positive comments to one negative comment for a happy and stable relationship. This equation is used with a 95 per cent accuracy rate to determine if couples will stay together.
Focus on effort
Whether it’s your child’s soccer match or your own netball comp, try to avoid making individual comments or negative comments of any kind during a competitive game. Cheer good plays by both teams and talk about the effort being made rather than who won or lost. “Most people won’t remember a score from two weeks ago but they will recall a great play,” says Fuller.
Fake it ‘til you make it
Ask yourself if someone took a 24-hour video of you, what expression would they see. Anger? Irritability? Depression? “Before you leave the house tomorrow, spend a few minutes smiling at yourself in the mirror. Mentally make this your ‘screensaver face’. Remember to use it as much as you can. Smile and you might just get one back that makes your day,” says Fuller.
For 10 more bad-mood busters pick up the June issue of Good Health magazine or subscribe at magshop.co.nz.