Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Strategies for Smiles

Lists some ways that people try to cheer themselves up when they fall into a bad mood. Distraction (reading or watching television); Trying to solve the problem head-on; Socializing; Resolving to try harder; Remembering your past successes; More; Why each method succeeds or fails.

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.