Stuck in a Negative State of Mind? Here’s Your Way Out

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“I’m in a bad mood today.”

How often have you used this phrase? If you’re like any other person, then probably quite often – and that’s absolutely fine! We all get cranky, depressed, distressed, and anxious. We all experience those feelings that put us into a negative state of mind. Even the happiest and most successful people on the planet find themselves in a funk occasionally.

The question is: how quickly can you snap out of it? The following tips will help you not only lift the dark veil of negativity but also change your state of mind and improve your outlook.

First Things First

Before we go any further, let me make it clear that the main reason you get into a negative state of mind is because you have learnt to associate a situation with a negative mood. How many times have you said to yourself or others: “I get mad when…” or “I don’t like it when…”

The things that put us in a negative state of mind are not merely random events triggered by the actions of people around us. Instead, they’re habits that we have developed and emotions that we have trained ourselves to accept. But guess what? You don’t have to get cross when someone is late. You don’t have to get stressed out when a deadline gets tight.

You feel this way because, for years, you’ve observed others around you react in a similar way and subconsciously trained yourself to allow similar feelings to surface when such a situation arises. But make no mistake, the majority rule does not apply here. Just because the majority of people react a certain way to a stimulus does not necessarily mean that this is the right reaction.

Identify the Triggers

The next time you’re in a bad mood, ask yourself what it was that put you in a funk. Most people are so used to being in a negative state of mind that they don’t even notice how long they’ve been carrying the cloud with them. Try and look back at your day and pinpoint the event that changed your mood. It might have been a discussion with a colleague, something you heard, an event that you did not enjoy, or even something as simple as a thought that you had.

Once you pinpoint the trigger, you will be able to assess whether it is worth worrying about or not. Additionally, ask yourself whether there is something you can learn from the situation. Once you start observing the triggers, you might identify that you tend to get into a bad mood because you have overcommitted and feel overwhelmed with the number of things left to handle, for example.

Stop Brooding

You had an argument with your partner or a colleague who said something that you didn’t like. How many times have you replayed the scene of that same upsetting short film that happened days – if not weeks – ago in your mind? Reliving upsetting events in your head does not lead to a better understanding of what happened.

If you want to analyze an event and figure out what happened, you need to adopt a problem-solving approach and try to view the incident with a different perspective. Reliving unpleasant events can make you feel helpless about changing them, causing emotional distress and even depression in the process.

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Notice Your Behavior

Most of the time, we are our own worst enemy and, often, we are both the reason and the trigger for our negative state of mind. Pay close attention to the way you act and react from the minute you wake up in the morning to the time you go back to bed at night.

If you wake up in the morning expecting another day from hell, how could you not be in a negative state of mind? Negative thoughts are self-perpetuating, so the more time you spend involved in negative discussions or thinking, the harder you will find it to get out of a negative state of mind.

Watch Your Words

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Contrary to this popular saying, words can alter your brain and impact your emotional and psychological behavior, according to the latest psychological research. Scientists have now proven that negative language can increase the activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls autonomic responses associated with fear. As a result, dozens of stress-producing hormones that interrupt the brain’s functioning are released, especially the parts that affect logic, reason, and language.

This explains why you may not be able to “think straight” when you’re in a negative state of mind or you may say things that you will later regret. Fear-provoking words such as poverty, illness, and death stimulate the brain in negative ways, so choose your words wisely. Consciously replace negative words with positive ones in order to interrupt the brain’s propensity to be negative.

Tell People What You Need

One of the most common feelings you experience when you’re stuck in a funk is that of helplessness. Whether you’re at work or at home, one of the most important things to remember is that you are not alone. Once you identify what has triggered your negative emotion, take the time to ask yourself what it is that you need the most at that moment.

If you are stressed at work, you may need more time, help, or guidance to complete what you’re doing. If you’ve been upset with a partner or friend, you may need time to discuss the situation and clear the air. Make sure you communicate with the people around you about what it is that you need. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone.

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Photo: Courtesy of Mark Adriane

Make a Decision to Change

If you are to take away just one point from this article, then remember this: Life is too short to be miserable! With this in mind, urge yourself to make a decision not to accept being miserable anymore. It’s true that, in life, you will always get what you tolerate. If you tolerate people who treat you badly, then people will do so – only because you allow them to.

Equally, if you think that living in a negative state of mind is acceptable, then you just allow these negative emotions to prevail in your life and take over. Don’t settle for a state of mind that does not give you what you want. You deserve better, so start demanding it from yourself and for yourself.


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