A bad mood can be like the effects of a knock-out punch — stunning, immobilizing and enduring. So, how do you change a bad mood? Here is a practical guide to dig yourself out of the doldrums of stagnation, apathy and mild depression and shift to a higher vibration.
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.
~ Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
START WITH NUTRITION.
Comfort foods like mac-n-cheese seem like a good way to improve your mood, but the only change you’ll feel like making is right into bedtime pants. However, fasting, restricting foods from your diet or cleansing isn’t realistic when you are in a bad mood. Instead, elevate your mood by upgrading your food.
Focus your intention and attention on eating high-quality, healing foods: water, green tea, berries, blueberries, walnuts, salmon, greens, purple cabbage, veggies, prebiotic foods like ginger and garlic, and probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut. These foods have anti-inflammatory, mood-boosting effects.
All of the koshas — bodies or sheaths that house Atman (true self, soul, spirit) as defined by Vedantic philosophy — are affected by food. Food is chemical information normally only associated with the physical body (anamaya kosha). However, when intention, attention, presence, company, high-quality food and gratitude combine, the experience elevates from merely affecting the physical body to permeating the mental, emotional, energetic, intuitive and spiritual bodies.
In addition to choosing these powerful foods, take one minute and try one of the mood-boosting tips below designed to affect each kosha.
MOBILIZE YOUR ANAMAYA KOSHA (PHYSICAL BODY).
Sluggish? Perform any of the physical tasks below for one minute to experience an instant shift.
Exercise: Do some cardio. Shadow boxing, jump rope, dance, burpees, squats.
Cool it. Take a cold shower. Start with your regular hot shower or you’ll never get in in the first place; then, switch the water to cold. Enjoy for one minute. Short cut: wash your face for a minute in cold water. Mountain method: sit in the river (not recommended in the winter).
Sing. Do some car karaoke. Out loud. Turn up your favorite song and belt it out.
Combine. Perform one minute of squats while singing your favorite song out loud in a cold shower. That’ll change your mood! Singing, chanting, deep breathing, exercising and cold showers stimulate your vagus nerve, which has a wide range of functions including regulating inflammation, blood sugar, blood pressure, heart rate, appetite, digestion and recovery from stress.
ENERGIZE YOUR PRANAMAYA KOSHA (ENERGETIC BODY).
Unmotivated? Ancient medical practices affect the energetic body and see it as important as the physical and mental bodies.
Practice Tapping. QiGong tapping encourages energy movement. Touch all your fingertips together on each hand. Bring both hands to the top of your head. Lightly tap your fingers on top of your head while you inhale, continue tapping and hum while exhaling. Repeat for a minute.
Visualize. Imagine how you want to feel and practice feeling that way. Another form of visualization is to perform a transcendental meditation. Stand up with your arms overhead. Take slow deep breaths through your nose and imagine standing under a beautiful waterfall. Hold your hands to the sky, close your eyes, imagine the waterfall washing through you pulling every bit of tension and toxins out of every cell into the pool of water to become energy for the earth.
Experience water. Go sit by a river. You’ll end up staying longer than a minute.
RECOGNIZE YOUR MANOMAYA KOSHA (MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BODY).
Apathetic? The mind and the emotions tango to the rhythm of the five senses, which inspire ideas, emotions, feelings and moods.
Journal. Put pen to paper for one to five minutes. Quickly write your current thoughts. Recognize self-sabotage. Write the answers to the following questions: Is this thought useful? How is it behaving? Pivot the thought. What would it be like if the thought were not true?
Yawn. Yawn 25 times in a row. Be sure to make that yawning sound.
Breathe. Inhale for four counts, sustain for four counts, exhale for eight counts, repeat.
Symbols. Use a physical reminder to inspire resilience.
Direct your gaze to the object for a minute and use the meaning of the object to focus positively. My favorite is a red stopwatch. It reminds me to stop doing or thinking something that isn’t working. I set the timer and think about how I can create change in a minute. I also have a heart shaped rock which reminds me of a quote a friend shared: “Everyone has got to want everyone else to succeed. Then together we can do everything.”
EMPOWER YOUR VIJNANAMAYA KOSHA (INTELLECTUAL/ INTUITIVE BODY).
Stuck? Our intuitive body is strengthened by living in alignment with our values and sharing our passion.
Give. Seva — selfless service — results in joy. Organize an event and invite guests to donate to your favorite cause. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Interact with your community and provide service from your heart. Seva is a power vibration that will trump any mood.
Chant in Sanskrit. Chanting in Sanskrit tames mind chatter, creates a trancelike state, stimulates the vagus nerve and opens our ears to the wisdom of our intuitive body. Try Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha Sharanam Ganesha.
RELEASE YOUR ANANDAMAYA KOSHA (BLISS BODY).
Helpless? Overwhelmed? Practice ishvarapranidhana, letting go.
Let go. Release your desire to control everything — weather, pandemics, governments, weight loss, other people’s thoughts, etc. Work with no expectations. Create intention, act on it and then let go of the desire to know and control the results.
Each of these practices can help you pivot from dwelling on the world as a nasty place to recognizing challenges as opportunities for growth. If we accept the challenge, the universe will support us in our acts of courage, but it will also test our resolve. It’s our choice to be victim or champion. Rise to the challenge.
Originally published in the Winter + Spring 2020-21 issue of CO YOGA + Life Magazine.