How to feel more positive in 7 easy steps

While you can't always prevent a bad mood, you can learn to manage it and release it.

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We all find ourselves in bad moods from time to time. Even those of us who are the most positive and self-aware are prone to mood changes when life doesn’t go our way, someone upsets us, or $(%* just hits the fan.

While we might not be able to prevent bad moods (and that really isn’t the goal), there are ways to shift out of the negativity and back to the positive.

Here are 7 tips you can use to shift out of a bad mood and feel better quickly.

1. Feel it and release it. Once a bad mood has come over you, one of the most effective things you can do is to give yourself permission to feel it. If you try to push it away, or avoid dealing with it, the frustration can keep bottling up until it snowballs into a much larger issue. When you accept what you’re feeling, you can then take action to release it. Step out for a walk or a run, write it in a notebook, create a playlist. Take an action that helps you release the negative energy and let it go.

2. Breathe deeply. There’s a reason why people say to take a deep breath when you’re upset or anxious — because it actually works. And you can do it anywhere. Start by taking deep breaths, counting to 4 on your inhale and 4 on your exhale. Gradually increase the length of your inhale and exhale to 5 counts, then 6, 7, and 8. Take several 8 count inhales until you notice you are doing it with ease and feel calm.

3. Meditate. It’s no secret that meditation helps with depression and anxiety. It can also help shift you out of a bad mood. If you can find a few minutes by yourself, close your eyes and sit in stillness. Try not to get too caught up in your thoughts; instead, watch them drift by like sailboats on a calm bay, without getting attached. If that doesn’t work for you, try picturing your happy place: see the sights, hear the sounds, feel the feelings. Imagine what it’s like to actually be there.

4. Get outside. The benefits of nature have been scientifically proven to calm the mind. The simple act of taking a walk in nature can help press the ‘reset’ button. Even if you only have a few minutes, try to get outside somewhere, and surround yourself with as much nature as possible. Immerse yourself in the rustling trees, gentle breeze, and solid ground under your feet.

5. Move your body. The benefits of exercise on the brain are vast, one of which is its mood-boosting capability. Exercise lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) and produces antidepressant effects, along with a shot of endorphins. Even a short 20-minute sweat can take your mind off your worries and make you feel instantly better.

6. Focus on what’s good. Nothing brings on a bad mood faster than making a mental list of everything that’s going wrong. But that’s exhausting and just leads to more stress. To shift your energy to the positive, ask yourself, “What’s going right?” Make a list of the positive things, even if they are as small as your afternoon coffee break or relaxing weekend ahead.

7. Make a choice. In any given moment (even when it doesn’t feel like it), we have the ability to make a conscious choice for ourselves. We can choose to be happy. We can choose a positive thought. We can choose peace instead of turmoil. We can choose joy instead of resentment. What choice are you making in this moment, and is it the choice you want to make? If not, you have the power to change it.

These easy, short practices can help you shift into a more positive mood when you feel stressed, anxious, or just in a bad mood. In the long run, it’s helpful to pay attention to your physical and mental health. When you make it a practice to take care of your mind and body — ensuring that you are getting enough rest, nutrition, and exercise — you are better equipped to navigate the ups and downs of everyday life.

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