This is a simple technique that can work wonders on your mood if you catch it early. It is based on both cognitive and physiological psychology.
Whenever you feel a negative mood brewing (anger, sadness, frustration, grief, etc.), your immediate thoughts and actions have a major impact on whether or not this mood will linger, inflate, or improve.
Therefore, the absolute best thing to do at the first sign of a negative mood is to ACT THE OPPOSITE of how you feel! This blog will demonstrate the technique with sad emotions. A future blog may cover how to do this with anger, but the technique is very similar.
I realize this is easier said than done, but you can do it with some practice!
If you feel sadness (or a related emotion) creeping up, what does your body want you to do? That's right, it likely wants you to lay around, slouch, hang your head, and other typical behavioral characteristics of depression. Instead, you should ACT THE OPPOSITE with behaviors such as:
- sitting up straight
- get moving
- keep your head high
- SMILE (this actually releases serotonin that can immediately improve your mood)
- Do a "Power Pose" (stand up, spread arms wide, and look up)
Similarly, the emergence of sadness often leads to more negative thoughts snowballing. Unfortunately, your thoughts also go by the old saying "misery loves company." If you catch this early enough, you can ACT THE OPPOSITE by forcing yourself to have more positive/less negative thoughts. Do this by:
- Challenging your thoughts (preferably using one of the many CBT tools I have shared with you through these emails!)
- Distract yourself with thoughts on a totally different subject
- Mindfulness (forcing yourself to attend intently to another aspect of the present moment, such as your breathing, nature, or your five senses)
Again, I understand that this sounds easy, but it takes some work. A helpful tip that the earlier you catch a negative emotion, the easier this technique is to use.