“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking bad moods.
Sometimes you just want to go ahead and let yourself feel foul. There’s no law that says we have to be Cheery Mary Sunshine every day, and who would want to be?
But when you’ve got stuff to do, a crummy mood doesn’t help. It burns up all your energy and it ties up your mental bandwidth. You spend all your focus on the injustices you’ve been subjected to, and none of it doing your Big Magnificent Project.
When I had a day job, I had the luxury of cultivating my crappy moods. I could nurse a funk for days or weeks, keeping little lists of how screwed up They were and how deliciously righteous and correct I was.
But when someone else isn’t paying for that, it just gets in my way. Mama’s got work to do, and that ain’t helping.
I found myself in just such a mood last weekend, when I needed to be planning my
world domination work week. I didn’t have a lot of time to indulge the horribles, so here’s how I kicked them to the curb.
Write it out
Let’s face it, you’re in a crappy mood for a reason.
Probably not the reason you think, but a reason.
So before you try to fix anything, break out some paper and your favorite pen and start complaining.
Write about why you think you’re feeling so foul. Write about what pulled your bad mood trigger. Write about what made you angry. Write about what hurt your feelings. Write about what’s got you frustrated. Write about who you hate even though you’re supposed to love (or at least like) them.
The most important instruction is Don’t be reasonable. You do enough of that already. Hush the voice in your head that tells you to quit being a crybaby. Go ahead and whine the blues.
Take it a little over the top if you want to. Or a lot over the top. Compare your bad haircut to nuclear holocaust. No one can see you, so wallow as much as you want to.
(P.S., remember, none of this works if there’s any chance in the universe that someone will see your ranting and raving. So be sure you keep your journal 100% secure from other eyes. Burn the pages if you have to.)
You can read more about the fine art of journal writing/tantrums right here.
I won’t call it exercise, in case that’s a bad word for you.
But get your body moving. Get your heart beating a little bit faster than it usually does.
You can do this with the
door stop exercise machine in the basement. If the weather’s ok where you are, you could just take a nice walk around the block. Go for a bike ride. Dance to silly music. Do Taebo kicks. Practice your pole dancing. Whatever.
Don’t think about all the advice about how exercise is good for your heart and lungs and skin and prevents Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure and reduces the incidence of virtually every kind of disease by about half. Even though that is true, it’s just going to make you feel worse.
Get moving because it feels good. If it’s not feeling great, maybe you’re pushing it a little too hard. Slow down. Notice the way the blood feels when it’s racing around in your body. Notice that your legs and butt actually like moving around. Enjoy.
If you can manage it, try not to think about anything other than what it feels like to move.
You don’t have to do this forever. Maybe 15 or 20 minutes. If that’s scary, you could make it 10.
Listen to silly music that makes you happy
Whether it’s the Jonas Brothers or ABBA or The Chipmunks, I won’t tell.
Listen to something that made you really happy when you were 10. Or to something that makes you feel like you’re 10 now. Anything that puts a goofy smile on your face will work. It doesn’t have to be dumb, but you get a few bonus points if it is.
Conveniently, you can do this while you’re moving around. It makes the time go really fast.
You might even be inclined to move around for 5 more minutes. If you really want to, go ahead. If you’re just doing it to be virtuous or to shrink your gigantic thighs, though, don’t.
Making your inner toddler happy
All this is about taking care of the part of yourself that still has tantrums, even though you’ve learned to call them something else.
The journaling part is about putting your feelings into language. Some of us got good at that when we were children; most of us didn’t. When we can’t express our feelings, they back up on us and gunk everything up. So express.
(Maybe language isn’t your main way of expressing yourself. It might be paint or tattoo ink or interpretive dance. If you’re not a writer, use the medium that works for you.)
The movement part is about being a physical creature. You evolved to move while you were processing thoughts and feelings, and your brain works better when your body’s doing something. Plus shaking your booty produces endorphins and all that, which just feels good.
No one’s asking you to be Lance Armstrong here. Don’t kill yourself. In fact, a nice slow walk works fine.
The music part is about playing and being silly and making a joyful noise. Whether it’s Aretha or the Wiggles that make you happy, music can take you to another place.
(I’m partial to classic disco. It’s hard to feel bad when It’s Raining Men, at least for me.)
Bonus ideas if you want them
- Figure out the next action you need to take to start making the bad situation better. If this sounds like Crazy Moon Language, try the Complete Flake’s Guide to Getting Things Done.
- Give away some money to someone who’s having a shitty life and not just a shitty day. Even $20 will help you feel better. I like these guys, and they’re low on donations since the economy melted down, but pick a group that rings your bells.
- Get on Twitter or Facebook or your blog or (last resort) something primitive like your kitchen table or the telephone, and tell someone they’re awesome. I know it’s Pollyannaish, but it works. And detached cynicism is so 2005.
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The quote at the beginning of the post is from Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
Image from I Can Has Cheezburger?