by guest blogger Maya Rodale, writer of historical tales of true love and adventure
Bad moods happen to the best of us. Sometimes hunger, fatigue, and discomfort make us cranky. Sometimes relationship troubles and workplace stress are the culprits. Sometimes it’s just “the mean reds,” as Audrey Hepburn called it in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Unfortunately, I seem to have a sensitive temperament that makes me prone to moods. Fortunately, I’ve developed strategies to cheer the heck up.
- Eat. Sleep. Tired and hungry people are cranky people. Don’t be one of them. I have found that eight hours of sleep means I am happier and more productive during my waking hours, so I get to sleep and get stuff done. When I get hungry, I don’t have the energy to be nice, so I make an effort to have regular meals and I always pack snacks. Look, it’s OK to “go off your diet” for an afternoon if family harmony is at stake.
- Make yourself comfortable. Get rid of shoes that pinch, bras that don’t quite fit, itchy fabric, pants that are too tight, and for lord’s sake, avoid panty hose if you can. It’s possible to be stylish and presentable while still comfortable, and it’s so worth the effort. I’m a fan of jersey cotton, soft sweaters, a shawl, and a handbag with an over-the-shoulder strap.
- Clean the bathroom. No, really. Nothing cures a bad mood for me like scrubbing the toilet and the bathroom tile. I grumble and scrub really hard and then rinse the suds and bad feelings away. At the end of 30 minutes, I have sulked, but I’ve also accomplished something—a sparkling-clean bathroom. Now, that’s cheery! Similarly, clearing up clutter can do wonders.
- Sing cheerful songs really loudly. Studies have shown that just smiling can make you happier because the same areas of your brain light up as if you were happy first and then smiled. (Do not suggest that to a cranky person!). I reckon singing happy songs works the same way. I suggest “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band or anything by Sugarland or from The Sound of Music. If you are amenable to outrageously offensive humor, sing along to “Uncle F***” by South Park. Hear me out: Studies have also shown that curse words diminish pain.
- Start over. You know those days when you get up on the wrong side of the bed? If you can, start over by taking a short nap. When you wake up, have tea or coffee. In this process of resetting, I’m often able to establish the equilibrium I was missing.
- Go for a walk or exercise. Sunshine. Endorphins. Time to think. Most of all, the feeling of being active and strong really helps with feelings of helplessness and lethargy.
- Write it down. Whether it’s a venting journal entry or the scathing letter you’ll probably never send, writing it down helps 1) unburden you and 2) really uncover what “it” is that’s getting you down. That is the first step to doing something deep and meaningful to make yourself feel better for the long haul.
- Talk to a friend. If you just need to complain or vent, ask a friend for 10 minutes. Tell the friend up front if you want him or her to be a cheerleader, be a supportive listener, or help you solve a problem. However, if you have a big, deep problem…
- Talk to a professional. The other day I went to see my therapist to explore the question of why I’ve taken on projects I didn’t want to fight for when the going got tough. Forty-five minutes later, we realized the question was really why I didn’t stand up for myself. A good therapist helps you get to the root of the problem and will then help you develop a long-term solution.
- Laugh with cute animals. Whether it’s playing games with my dog or watching cute animal videos (start with this one featuring foxes jumping on a trampoline), the combination of laughter and sweetness makes it hard to be cranky. As long as I’ve been fed…
Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. She has a Master’s degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own mayarodale.com. Her latest book is The Tattooed Duke.