So your mood is radioactive, and though you've noticed it's not serving you - or anyone around you - it can be hard to snap out of it. Here are three road-tested methods I use when I feel the mental toxicity building.
I was recently diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue, a stress-induced syndrome that causes debilitating tiredness. The constant exhaustion has, I confess, had a negative effect on my usually upbeat mood.
When my practitioner showed me my adrenal graph, it was off the grid compared to someone with normal adrenals.
In spite of the eye-opener, my first reaction was unenlightened.
But how will I manage my calendar? (which closely resembled a Heathrow flight roster).
My angst was temporarily worsened by having to ditch alcohol, sugar and caffeine - as in, stat.
I was cross with my body for 'letting me down' during such a critical time.
Then came the learning. After a few months of laying in bed feeling listless and crotchety, I asked myself, what's good about this? What do I have to be grateful for here?
My inner critic, never one to miss an opportunity for air time, offered a cynical reply. I had to dig deeper.
Then a funny thing happened. Since I've had to slow down and take naps during the day, I've become more productive in what time I do have. More abundant. More creative, and wait for it, less sulky and resistant to what is.
I've had to rejig my calendar to add white space. I call it my dream time, sometimes real, sometimes metaphorical.
In that new-found space I have time to plot bigger picture stuff about how I can show up more powerfully to serve my clients and readers. And that isn't at my own expense.
My Mindfulness teacher also gave me some home-practice this week. "I'd like you to do the 10 digit gratitude exercise, once a day for a week," she said. "For each finger, one thing you feel grateful for." And then she asked me to really sit with it, to really feel the gratitude in my body. Otherwise, the exercise becomes like a check-list.
So if I'm grateful I can walk, for instance, I really feel the joy of motion, the crisp October air (or the blustery drizzle pelting against my face). I feel my arms pumping. It's not just, 'hey, I can walk! Next.' There's a difference.
The result? My mood has improved, but only every time. Gratitude rocks.
2. STAY IN YOUR LANE
Byron Katie has a technique called staying in your own business, which is a pin to the balloon of bad moods. It goes like this.
There are 3 kinds of business in the Universe: mine, yours and God's (for clarity, Katie talks about 'God' as reality. Reality is God, she says, because it rules). In other words, anything that's out of our immediate control - weather, train schedules, bad hair days - are God's business in Katie's way of thinking.
When we leave the realm of our own business, worrying about floods, Ebola and fracking, we are mentally in "God's" business.
When we think about what others should do, or how they should behave, we're in their business.
On the train this morning, a woman sat down next to me and started pulling out her eyelashes, one by one. Pluck. Drop it. Pluck. Drop it.
I'm thinking, 'you should really stop that.' I was suddenly feeling agitated.
And then I remembered Katie's words. Why am I agitated? Because I'm in her business. I'm should-ing all over her. I need to stay in my lane.
Every time we feel irritated, hurt, offended, chances are, we're not in our own business. We're crossing over into someone else's lane, like an annoying driver.
When we are outside of our own business, we become separate from ourselves. Sucky mood anyone?
So next time you're feeling cranky, ask yourself:
Am I in my own business, or in someone else's? Then course correct.
Katie's right - it's freeing!
3. BE USEFUL
My favourite mood rocket is serving. When we're being helpful, it's pretty hard to be stuck in our own ego-centric doldrums. Something shifts. We've moving out of our own thought loop into something creative and higher energy.
Here's what I try when my mood sucks:
- Skype my mum, and listen to how SHE is doing
- Share someone's great work on social media
- Send a hand-written note to someone I appreciate
- Send a friend a book, magazine or flowers
- Pay a genuine compliment
- Have a walk with my kids
It only helps 100% of the time.
Being useful, giving, reaching out, doing something for someone - they're all the best cures I know to make short of a long face.
What works on shifting your sucky moods?