What NOT to Do When You Are In a Low Mood

I have moods. I know I’m not alone on this one.

You have moods too. 

Maybe it’s once in awhile, maybe it’s once a week, maybe it’s once a month. These moods come - usually without warning or prompting - they stir things up, then they leave. 

Unlike an emotion, we can’t identify where moods come from. Sometimes they seem like they come out of nowhere. A moment ago, everything was just fine, then - sometimes like driving into fog, other times like driving into a wall - a mood hits.

When you’re down, every little thing can seem like a big deal. Things that didn’t bother you yesterday are scarier, more irritating, more troubling, or more overwhelming than before. 

And when you’re in a mood, it’s not just one thing that bothers you. It’s everything. It seems like the dung hits the proverbial fan and every aspect of your life gets some on it.

It seems like there are problems everywhere you look.

You will have the tendency to address these problems. You’ll want to say this certain thing to this person. You’ll want to send that email off to that person. You’ll want to sell this thing, or buy that thing. 

Don’t.

Do not attempt to solve a problem today that literally was’t a problem yesterday. 

It is only a problem because while you’re in a low mood, it looks like a problem. 

It’s really a molehill, but because you’re so low, it appears to be a mountain. Don’t go try climbing that mountain in a low state. You’ll end up making it worse. 

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say that your spouse leaves dirty dishes in the sink. Normally, it’s not a big deal. You just put them in the dishwasher next time you’re busy in the kitchen.  

But today, you’re in a low mood. And when you see the dishes in the sink you decide to “solve this problem” and tell your spouse to put them in the dishwasher. In a low mood, it is likely that your tone, energy, and body language are not conducive to a heartfelt conversation and it is also very likely that your comment hurts your spouse’s feelings, and causes some tension in the relationship.

Trying to solve a problem while in a low mood causes more harm than good. 

Does this mean that you never address the dishes in the sink, or any other thing that could be remedied? 

Of course not. Of course, you must have those tough conversations. Of course you have to talk about things that would make life easier. Of course you have to share your legitimate needs with those close to you.

But just not when you’re in a low mood.

This doesn’t mean that you should be passive aggressive and give the silent treatment when you’re in a low mood. That’s damaging also. 

Simply say to yourself and to those close to you, “I’m in a low mood. I’ll have to think about this and get back to you when I’m feeling like myself. Thank you for your patience with me.”

If it is a real problem, it’ll still be there for you when you’re in a better mood and a better place to solve it. 

When your mood passes, if the problem is not longer a problem, then you just saved energy and grief in trying to solve something that’s not even a problem.

When you’re in a low mood, it’s best to bite your tongue, hunker down and wait it out. Moods come. Moods go. Have patience and self-compassion and let the mood pass. Meddling with the mood, trying to fix yourself, or trying to fix “problems” only makes the mood last longer. 

Acknowledge the mood. “Hmm, I’m in a low mood.”

Recognize that it inflates problems. “Hmm, this didn’t bother me yesterday. It must be because I’m in a low mood.”

Avoid solving those problems. “Hmm, I’ll have to address this when this mood passes.”

Wait it out and let it pass. “I know that this too will pass.”

Once the mood passes - and it will pass - solve the problem if it’s still around. Have the talk. Sell the thing. Buy the thing. You’ll be in a better state to take any action once you’re in a higher mood.

Are you in a low mood?

What things seem like problems when you are in a low mood?

What might be different if you hunkered down and waited until you were in a better place to solve the “problems”?

Here’s to Conquering Stress, 

The Stress Experts

P.S. This content is adapted from Dr Richard Carlson’s book, “You Can Be Happy No Matter What”. If you’re looking for a good book this winter, we recommend this one. (We are not affiliated.)

Practical Strategies to Deal With Daily Stressors

Sign up to receive inspiration, skills, tools, and tough love right in your inbox each week. Don't worry, we won't share your email address and we're not going to fill up your inbox with junk.

Close

Practical Strategies to Deal with Daily Stressors

Sign up to receive inspiration, skills, tools, and tough love right in your inbox each week. Don't worry, we don't share your email address and we're not going to fill up your inbox with junk.