2 Powerful Strategies For Dealing With A Foul Mood

When I think of someone in a foul mood, my mind immediately goes to a cartoon sketch I once saw.  The character in a bad mood is seen walking around with a black cloud hanging over their head.  Their gloominess and irritability come off them in waves and impacts everything they do and everyone they come across.

The whole world is against them, and nothing they do is right – sigh!

Often being in a bad mood is seen as a bit of a joke – “who got out of bed the wrong side this morning.” But, seriously, people who use that phrase in an attempt at humour had better watch out.  Despite them thinking it’s making light of the situation, I want to hit them around the face with a wet kipper.

The Impact Of A Foul Mood

Because there’s nothing funny about a foul mood that can impact the whole day.  And if you have frequent bad moods, it can be a serious issue. 

For a start, a bad mood prevents you from enjoying yourself, but there are other issues to consider:-

  • It could be a symptom of depression or stress
  • Cause you to make bad decisions
  • Drive your family and loved ones away – and work colleagues will avoid you like the plague.

Besides, who wants to be known as a miserable old cow!

So, if your foul mood is severe or emerges a little too often, you will need to do something about it.

Read on to find out how to deal with a foul mood using two powerful techniques.

1.  Understand The Cause So You Can Let It Go (or better still do something about it)

Often we think that we are in a foul mood, and that’s just the way it is.  Back to the old saying, “Get out of the wrong side of the bed, did you?”  But usually, it’s because of something that has been done or said.  Or something that hasn’t been done or said when you expect it. 

The immediate source of the bad mood might not be immediately apparent.  Still, I guarantee that there is something at the bottom of it.

I disagree with the advice given in many articles and self-help books that recommend that you “vent your anger.”  They suggest you scream into a pillow or hit a punch bag.  Sadly, apart from wearing you out, studies have repeatedly found that taking this course of action achieves nothing and could make you angrier and for longer.  The last thing you need is to perpetuate the foul mood.

Instead, I suggest you try and get to the root cause.  A great way to do this is to journal your thoughts.  I do this frequently and find it powerful.  I begin by making a statement about how I’m feeling and then ask why. 

Naming how you are feeling is powerful.  It helps you build self-awareness and recognise patterns and triggers

The Easiest Way To Get To The Cause Of Your Foul Mood

Years ago, I learned a great technique about taking the first answer and then asking a further why and continuing this on for at least 5 whys.

For example, I might write

I feel annoyed – Why?

Because I’m tired – Why?

I couldn’t sleep – Why?

Too much in my head – Why?

There’s too much to do

You could, in fact, keep going with asking the why until you run out of ideas.  But, in the end, you hit the core issue, and once you have the nub of the problem, you can do something about it.

Danger: Misdiagnose The Cause Of The Foul Mood, And Nothing Gets Better

I’d always put my grumpiness in the morning down to the belief that I was not a good morning person.  I need at least two coffees before holding a conversation or stringing two words together.  And I’ll be honest, I accepted this excuse and carried on regardless.

But this was a lie, I told myself, an excuse for my bad behaviour.

When I did the above exercise, I realised that my foul mood was a symptom of a very irregular sleep pattern.  Something I’d struggled with for years.  Trust me, it’s hard to be filled with joy and excitement when you’ve only managed to have three hours of sleep.

So I created a night-time routine that works for me, and subsequently, I’m much better at getting up in the mornings in a better frame of mind.

Perhaps you have similar problems. 

Let It Go

Sometimes the cause can be something someone has said or done that has upset you.  As a people pleaser, this can be particularly difficult.  Especially when all we want to do is make other people happy.  So we avoid addressing the issue head-on.

Instead, we take it to heart, pick it to pieces and dwell on it.

Before you know it, a mountain has been made out of a molehill.  And the person you feel has caused the upset has become the Devil incarnate.

We carry that grievance around with us, and it impacts everything.  So if you don’t feel able to address the issue, then the kindest thing you can do for yourself is to let it go.

Once again, I recommend that you journal about the issue.  Can you see a theme here – I love journaling.  Try to get to the root of the problem and make peace with it.  You might even find that the upset has more to do with your interpretation of it rather than what the other person did.

 Write the hurtful comment or deed on a piece of paper.  You can either cross it out and thereby making a statement to yourself that it’s not getting to you or write an affirmation that contradicts the statement.   Reframing something can take the sting out of it.

2.  Distract And Focus On Something Else

If you find that getting to the root of the foul mood doesn’t work, another option is to do something that makes you feel happier.  You want to find something that doesn’t sit well with being angry or depressed.  There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this; it’s about finding something that works for you.

Here are a few suggestions.

Watch a funny film or a program that makes you laugh

Have you ever experienced a fit of giggles?  If you have, you’ll know that once you start, you can’t stop.   Like me, you probably have films or programs that make you laugh.  Indulge yourself.  Take time out to sit down and let the enjoyment flow over you. 

Listen To Music

There’s some excellent psychological research around this topic.  In particular, a paper entitled When You’re Down And Troubled: Views On The Regulatory Power Of Music gave great insight.  The study looked at people in the 24 – 86 age range.  One conclusion was that those who listened to happy music reported a stronger tendency to repair mood and a stronger belief in their ability to influence mood through music.

The solution is to be incremental – to listen to gradually more upbeat music, or to watch gradually more upbeat programs.  In this way, you can ‘ease’ yourself into a better mood, and it won’t seem quite so off-putting.

Go For A Walk

Walking seems like such a simple thing to do.  You don’t need anything special to get started, just your own two feet and some kind of place to walk to, such as:

  • If you drive to work, park a little further away from the door
  • Take a stroll around your back garden
  • Visit a museum or go shopping.

Where you get your exercise is entirely up to you.

Anytime you’re out walking, exercise releases endorphins in your brain, which lead to a rush of good feelings.

Unlike a heavy workout, walking can actually wake you up by getting your blood flowing again.  And whatever is weighing you down and putting you in a foul mood seems to fall away.  Some of this is endorphins, some of it is the change in scenery.

Practice Self-Care

If you’re unsure about what self-care is all about, you will find it helpful to read my article What Is Self-Care And Why It Makes You A Better Person.  So often, we confuse self-care as something that requires a significant time commitment.  But, you can adopt quick and easy practices that take under a minute.  For example:

  • Stop everything and enjoy the silence
  • Take a deep breath
  • Daydream

If you are looking for more ideas on self-care activities that take under a minute, check out 6 Super Quick Self-Care Tips In Under A Minute

Take Action

The last thing you want to do is wallow in your foul mood.  And, like the cartoon character, unless you do something about it, it will follow you around like a black cloud of doom.  Impacting everything you do and everyone you meet.

Try to get to the route of the issue and then do something about it.  Alternatively, try the distraction and focus technique and get ready to take positive action to make yourself feel happier and get out of your funk.

And remember, a foul mood prevents you from enjoying yourself and causes other issues such as:

  • depression or stress
  • bad decisions
  • damaged relationships as people try to avoid you!

So the next time you find yourself in a foul mood, grab your journal and write it out.  Alternatively, choose one of the distract and focus ideas.  You’ll be so glad you did.

About the author Alison

A qualified UK based coach with 30 years of experience in personal development.

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