Woke Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed? How to Cope with a Bad Mood

Angry guy

Do you ever wake up feeling grumpy, angry, or annoyed without any specific reason?

It happens to me more than I’d like to admit. I wake up in a bad mood, and I can’t seem to shake it off. And from that point on, the feelings tend to get worse.

I don’t have a specific reason. I can’t blame the weather, or a deadline, or some physical ailment. It’s one of those days.

To make things more challenging, the bad mood can start later in the day. A dark cloud of negativity casts its shadow out of nowhere.

The feeling is like a wave of silent anger. It’s unpleasant physically and mentally (shallow breath, warmer body temperature, foggy mind). But the most powerful side effect is emotional—how it colors every experience and encounter.

What happens when agitation arises

Feeling agitated, angry, or frustrated is not bad in and of itself. It’s how we react to it that makes it more of a pain than it is.

I can sum up the pain of our reactivity in three stages.

Increased resistance: To avoid the pain of the feeling, I sink into a cycle of trying to figure out why I’m feeling this way. Or I try to manipulate the feeling so I can snap out of it. The only thing I get is more pain.

We not only resist the feeling, but we resist anything else because we’re so focused on getting rid of the negative that we reject everything, negative and positive.

More agitation: When we fight, argue, and find fault with everything, we create more frustration for ourselves. If you started with an ounce of negativity, now you have a pound.

A bad day: The resistance and agitation almost guarantee that our day would be a negative and dark one.

Contributing factors

The focus of this article is dealing with a bad mood, not its causes. There are contributing factors that are worth mentioning here. Lack of sleep, exhaustion, hunger, worries, or ongoing struggles can make a bad mood worse.

We can lighten the bad mood by addressing the body’s demands (food, sleep, or relaxation). But when it comes to mental and emotional blocks, trying to dig into each issue and analyzing it to death doesn’t usually help. Action might. But only when we’re actively making a choice, and not reacting to a negative feeling.

You can test the following ideas whether you know why you’re in a bad mood or not.

What to do when you feel agitated and frustrated

I haven’t experienced a magical aha moment that dissolved the feeling. What I’m sharing with you is some of the things that I find helpful—to varying degrees.

1. Less judgement

A bad mood awakens the judgment beast within. I harshly judge myself, the situation, and anyone who happens to cross my path.

The judgment comes in various forms. I keep arguing and questioning what’s wrong with me. I should feel calm and peaceful. Or I find the tiniest fault with something I’m doing, or try to blame others for my angry mood.

The moment you realize you’re judging (questioning, arguing, blaming, complaining), stop. Notice the judgment and try to move to the next step. You may have to do this more than once—we’re deeply programmed to judge.

2. Breathing and surrender

Shift your attention from judging and analyzing, and focus on the body. Breathe and feel the sensations in your body.

Don’t pretend to feel better if you don’t. Instead accept the feeling, even if it’s uncomfortable. It’s just a feeling. What’s the worst that could happen?

Your mind will fight you and try to go back to complaining and resisting. Breathe again … and smile. It’s just a feeling.

The more we accept and allow, the less we suffer.

If you’re willing to channel some of your energy into action, consider one of the following suggestions.

3. Getting physical

If you can take a nap, that would be wonderful. A physical rest can calm emotional agitation. Personally, my attempts at napping have never been successful. If you can’t rest, try walking or exercising.

Cleaning is something I often do to alleviate the agitation. It feels like I’m cleansing my mood when I clean my space.

Any physical movement (or rest) helps release some stuck energy and emotions, and that can be helpful, even if slightly.

4. Free writing

Writing is a wonderful way to keep track of how your mind works. Sometimes the best insight comes from uncensored writing. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or anything else, just write.

You might uncover mental and emotional habits that exasperate the negative feelings. Procrastination, fear, feeling stuck, or out of options can contribute to a bad mood.

Once you’re done, reflect for a few moments on what you’ve jotted down. Writing combines kinetic energy (hands’ movement), visual (you see the words) and auditory (you hear the words) input, and that can be quite soothing to the frustrated mind.

5. Tiny productivity

A little productive distraction can be helpful. Take five minutes to do something you want to do. You can respond to an email, return a phone call, or review your finances.

When the five minutes are up, stop. If you feel like doing another five, go for it. This is the best way I’ve found to combat resistance, which can hide behind a bad mood.

Our mood, like our energy, is not constant—bad moods happen. There is nothing wrong with feeling agitated and frustrated for no apparent reason. It’s just a feeling that we can experience, and then let it go—no judgement or analysis required.

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