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I thought it was just me, but it seems as though nearly everyone I talk to has been having a rough time over the past few weeks. Couples are breaking up, businesses are in turmoil, and people feel lost, unsure of which direction to go in life.

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Whether or not this recent wave of unhappiness has affected you, we all go through ruts in our life, where everything seems to go wrong all at the same time.

As much as the circumstances may play an integral role in triggering these rough patches, we are ultimately the ones who dictate just how much they affect us. There is no fundamental law that states that when something “bad” happens to us we must react negatively to it.

The initial negative reaction is natural, and can actually be quite healthy, but anything beyond that is completely under our control.

We all know what that point feels like — the point where the emotional bubbling has settled and we are actively choosing to continue basking in unhappiness. At first, shutting this off can be accomplished quite easily, but the longer we play in it, the more it embeds itself into our reality.

Before we know it, we’re officially a Negative Nancy or a Pessimistic Peter, unnecessarily criticizing the wonderful gift that we call life.

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Here are 5 quick techniques that can help break a persistent bad mood:

1. Hit ‘Play’ on a Favourite Album

We are know music is powerful. Whether it be doing the dishes, running on the treadmill, or working on the computer, there are few activities that music can’t improve.

Whenever I find myself in a mental rut, it’s all about the Backstreet Boys’ “Greatest Hits“. Judge me all you want, but there are few albums more capable of quickly changing my mood for the better than the best that A.J., Howie, Nick, Kevin, and Brian have to offer.

2. Get Physically Active

I know that hitting the gym or playing a sport may not seem that appealing when we’re down in the dumps, but if we can get just ourselves there, the action should do the rest of the mental work for us.

I find that playing a sport in particular requires so much focus that you can’t help but temporarily forget about feeling bad. Even if the mood tries to creep back in afterwards, the brief experience of life without  it can help remind us that it is not a permanent state. If we return to our bad mood afterwards, we have to recognize that we’ve made the choice to do so.

3. Incantations

Incantations (in the non-magical sense) are statements you repeat with the intention of bringing yourself to fully embody and believe them. I first came across them through the work of Tony Robbins, specifically the audio book The Power to Shape Your Destiny: Seven Strategies for Massive Results.

When stuck in a bad mood, try forcing yourself to repeat statements such as: “Everything happens for a reason,” “I am now stronger than I was before,” or even, “I am happy and in a great mood.”

This may seem silly, but just take my word that you need to try it out.

4. Those Funniest Moments

We all have at least a handful of moments in our life where you couldn’t have paid us to stop laughing; those moments where we cried tears of joy, fell to the ground in laughter, or even found our face and stomach muscles sore from laughing so hard.

Not only were those moments great when you experienced them, but they are wonderful references for the rest of your life. Use their memory to remind yourself of how light-hearted and awesome life can be.

5. Let It Out

Sometimes the best way to shake off a bad mood is to simply give yourself the opportunity to say everything that is bothering you. Go to a safe space where you won’t be bothered and let it all out.

This not only serves as a release, but it also forces you to actually think about each of the thoughts you have, since you are fully hearing them for what they are. Rarely are things as bad as we make them out to be in our heads.


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