Today I was woken up by an exterminator at the door.
He was conducting a routine check of the house and I had forgotten the appointment. People talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed...well the wrong side of my bed is definitely the front door of my house.
My first thought, after an expletive of some kind, was "I better press the reset button." The reset button isn't a literal button. It's a series of steps that I take to alter my physical state to launch myself into a good mood.
Often we feel like we have to accept the mood that we're in. Or worse, we try to think ourselves out of the mood we're in. But as Tony Robbins says, "Stay in your head and you're dead."
It's very difficult to think ourselves out of a bad mood, because it isn't thinking that got us there. Bad moods are brought on by a host of external circumstances. An exterminator at the door. Our boss in a bad mood at the Monday morning meeting. A political rant on Facebook. Life, basically.
The most effective way to lose a bad mood (or gain a good mood), is to radically change our bodies. Here are three steps that I use to immediately clear my mind and start fresh when I notice myself spiraling into a bad mood:
1) Breathe For 5 Minutes
Set a timer for 5 minutes. Then pay attention to your breath. That's it. Choose whatever kind of position you like. Lying on the floor, sitting in a chair, whatever. If your mind wanders and begins to fixate on whatever is irritating you, don't beat yourself up. Just focus your attention back on the breath going in and out of your nose. Try to see if you can catch the moment when your breath changes from an inhale to an exhale and vice versa. When the timer is up you'll already feel a little bit better. Now for the fun part!
2) Jump Up And Down To An Upbeat Song For About 30 Seconds
- Something to play music on (Spotify on an iPhone with some earbuds is my go-to)
- Trampoline (optional)
Choose a song that puts you in a good mood. Jump around to it for about 30 seconds. The more ridiculous you look, the better. Swing your arms. Play air guitar. Do whatever you need to do to make your body seem like you're having a good time.
The effect that music has on mood has been well documented, while jumping up and down forces you to take yourself (and your mood) a little less seriously. It also raises your heart rate which shifts your focus away from over analyzing.
Rebounding (a fancy word for jumping on a trampoline) is an exercise that was most notably used by NASA for astronauts in the 1980s. While there are many purported benefits to jumping on a trampoline such as lymphatic drainage, increased immune function, and mitochondrial stimulation, I honestly haven't taken the time to verify whether or not these studies are any good. All I know is that my mood dramatically increases after 30 seconds of jumping up and down with a good song.You can use whatever song works for you. My go-to is Smash Mouth's "All Star", but if you're not a fan of Shrek I can't guarantee you'll have the same Pavlovian response.
Mileage may vary.
3) Take A Cold Shower For As Long As You Can Stand It
Now I know what you're thinking: "Why in the world would I subject myself to cold water to make myself feel better?!". Well there are a few different studies that will explain the "why" better than I can. But from an anecdotal standpoint the cold forces my brain to focus primarily on my body and taking deep breaths. Plus I would imagine there's a bit of an adrenaline rush from the temperature change and by the time you get out there's an automatic gratefulness for warmth. This is the ultimate reset button for my brain.If you're new to taking cold showers I recommend the following:
- Take a hot shower. Let your body get reasonably warm.
- Take deep steady breaths.
- Turn the faucet all the way cold.
- Keep taking deep breaths and see how long you can stand the cold. (Pro-tip: Don't submerge your head or your hands until you're ready to get out).
I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on the internet. But sometimes we just need to "reset". So next time you're in a bad mood, try these out. You deserve a fresh start. Or two. Or ten...