Most of us spend about three days of every 10 trying to shake off bad moods, according to a University of Michigan study. The problem is, the most effective strategies aren't used all that often. Bouncing back from bad moods, it seems, is a survival skill that needs some fine tuning.
From most common to least, here are some of the ways people try to cheer themselves up:
- Distraction, the #1 method, is easy: watching television or reading a magazinejust doesn't have much of an effect on mood.
- Trying to solve the problem head-on does make you feel better--and, better yet, may fix whatever problem there is that's been giving you grief.
- Socializing may help for a while, but the smile doesn't stick once you're back home.
- Resolving to try harder in the future lifts your spirits as much as taking direct action.
- Venting your anger and frustration isn't as effective as most of us think. In fact, yelling or crying may make you feel even worse.
- Deciding it was for the best, as long as you mean it, helps you come to terms with your situation. And that lets you put a better spin on your problems.
- Licking your wounds in private, blaming others, and fatalism are popular--but are also ineffective ways to deal with bad moods.
- Comparing yourself favorably to others or deciding you're better off than before is a great way to boost your self-esteem and your smile.
- Treating yourself to something special can brighten your day.
- Drinking alcohol is one way to drown your sorrows, but once the buzz is gone, so is your good mood. Plus, some people feel worse when they drink--and often afterwards as well.
- Remembering your past successes is the best way to feel better about yourself--your mood and outlook soar. Unfortunately, people try to psych themselves up in this manner only about two percent of the time.