When I was writing this title I was like, “Wow, Claire, what a nice and uplifting post!” So not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, but we all have bad days and get into bad moods. In fact, when I polled y’all on IG over 50% of you said you weren’t having the best day 🙁 But, instead of ignoring that and continuing to just feel bad, I thought I’d share how I handle times when I’m in a bad mood. Hopefully some of these approaches/perspectives will be helpful.
I will be the first to say that I like to think I’m a pretty optimistic person- I always aim to see the silver lining and have a glass half full attitude, but I have sh*t days just like everyone else. I may not always share them because I don’t want it to come across like I’m complaining plus some of the things that I struggle with I choose not share out of respect for other people involved. But just know that everyone has their struggles despite what you know or see (on social especially).
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Iet’s chat about how to actually shift your mood into a better one.
First off, it’s totally okay (actually, healthy) to acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay to just be like “Wow, this is super shitty.” Sometimes things just happen that suck and it’s really hard to see any positives or silver linings. But regardless, at the end of the day things happen and it’s part of life. So the first thing I ask myself is “Is what I’m upset about in my control?” If the answer is no, then I literally just try and move on and not dwell on it. In those situations, it just kind of “is what it is.” I know that may not be the answer that some of y’all are looking for, but it doesn’t do any good to dwell on something that is out of our hands. Easier said than done, I know. But what happened, happened. However, some things that are out of our control, do require more attention than just “moving on.” For example, let’s take traumatic or life-changing events. A lot of these may not be in our control, and so while “it is what it is” we also may need to find a way to cope in order to move on. Maybe it’s journaling, professional therapy, a support group, etc. What I’m getting at though is if something isn’t in our control we have to find a way to move forward. At the end of the day continuing to feel bad about it will just compound and make the situation even worse. You have two choices: two dwell on the thing you can’t change, or accept it and find a way to move on.
Someone asked me in the question box how I was mentally when I fractured my jaw and had to have my jaw wired shut. This falls into a situation that I had no control over, what happened happened. But I had control over how I decided to react. Yes, it was a really crappy situation. I fractured my jaw in 3 places, broke a bunch of teeth, had to have my jaw wired shut for 6 weeks plus needed about 30K worth of dental work. I also fractured my wrist, and couldn’t work as a nurse for 3 months (couldn’t lift over 10 lbs or be cleared to give CPR). Objectively, I think that is a situation where it’s totally understandable to feel down, depressed, why is this happening to me, etc. And while I had moments of that during that time, that wasn’t my overall attitude. I remember first thinking, okay what is the silver lining? 1. I didn’t hit my head and have some sort of neurological injury 2. My jaw and teeth are fixable at the end of the day. This isn’t a long term problem 3. I have a fiancé and parents that can help take care of me and 4. This is a time to prove to myself that I am stronger than I think. So basically everyday, I did the best/most that I could. I would go to the gym every morning with a jaw wired shut and a fractured arm lol, but I was there. I showed up. I made a plan to create different variations of smoothies so I could try to stay healthy and gain back weight I lost. I would spend my time creating content for IG (there was only IG posts then), etc. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. I remember there were about 3 times during those months where I would break down and cry for a few minutes. I just need to get it out. But then I would pull myself together and be like, okay, it is what it is. It’s not in my control so I just have to focus on moving forward and do the best I can.
When it comes to situations we can control, we have more options here. While it still feels shitty in the moment, there are ways we can work towards actually resolving it. That isn’t to say that answer will come to us overnight or the problem will be solved immediately, but we can at least work towards it. Before trying to fix the issue though, one of the things I try to initially focus on is gratitude. Again, probably not an answer that you (myself included) want to hear, because at the end of the day just because it could be worse doesn’t negate how you’re feeling. However, I sometimes find that having a shift in perspective and acknowledging the actual gravity of the situation (compared to what it could be) can help. One of my friends sent me this and it really resonated with me. She said:
“If you have bad moments in your day you shouldn’t let that affect how you feel for the rest of your day. So for example if you have $1000 and you lost $100 of that, you wouldn’t be like, well I lost $100 so I might as well lose the rest of my $900. In the same way that if you had a bad 10 minutes of your day you wouldn’t let that 10 minutes rob you of the rest of your hours in your day”
Also, ask yourself is this really the worst thing that could happen? Will this matter in 1 week, 1 month, 1 year? Probably not. Again, it’s about changing your perspective and re-framing how you look at something.
While a change in perspective can be helpful, and make you start to feel about about the situation, it doesn’t tangibly fix anything. This is where it comes time to redirect your energy. Since we’re talking about problems that are in our control, I find it’s best to use that energy to come up with a plan to start and tackle the problem. Let’s say you took your NCLEX (nursing boards) and didn’t pass the first time. Disappointing and frustrating? Yes. End of the world? No. But what can you do to improve your chances of passing next time? Could you take a review course? Were there certain types of questions you felt unprepared for while taking the test? Is there another way you could study that might better prepare you? Or let’s say you’re really unhappy at your current job. Start to make a plan. What exactly don’t you like? Your boss? The work itself? Your schedule? Then go from there and see what you can start to change. Maybe it’s just transferring to a different department or role, or maybe it’s leaving that industry all together. When you start working towards the solution, it gives you hope that your circumstances will change and hope plays a huge role in your mood. You start to focus less on how the problem is making you feel, and start to generate hope and excitement about the new plan.
A lot of this blog is actually why I have the tattoo “forward” on my wrist. I got it as a daily reminder that at the end of the day you have two options. You can dwell on how you are currently feeling and let it dictate your day, month, year, etc. or you can move forward and focus on what you can control and make the best of it. Easier said that done, but sometimes you just have to force yourself to go through the motions until your heart catches up with your head. Ps. If you guys liked this type of post, be sure to check out my other mindset & growth blog posts.