How to Change Your Mood | Dr. C's Tips | Ep. 2
In episode 2 of Dr. C's Tips, we're talking all about how to change your mood and we're going to be doing so by detecting and then changing unhelpful thoughts that cross your mind.
How to Catch Unhelpful thoughts
In episode 1, we talked about how to catch unhelpful thoughts, we went over a few exercise to get better at catching them and we talked about the idea of journaling. The technique to catch the unhelpful thoughts is not something that comes about easy, and it's something that requires practice. Check out that episode to first understand how to catch them, because today we're going to be using those techniques to start changing our mood.
How to Change your Mood
Naturally the first thing we have to do is be aware of the thoughts, so that's why episode 1 is so important. The next important item is to be in the right mindset in order to be productive. What you want to do is focus on getting out of your rut. Essentially what we need to do is a quick exercise that takes us to the complete opposite feeling of what we're feeling. For example, if you're sad, force yourself to smile. If you're angry, jump up & down, if you're anxious, try to relax by deep breathing, or squeezing something. Again, by doing the opposite of what we're feeling, we'll leave that wrong mindset and arrive at a place that we're ready for the next step.
Next up, write down what it was that made you feel angry, sad or anxious. It might sound cheesy, but write it down, and then find evidence to support the thought and to go against the thought. Essentially, we're being detectives and attorneys here to find the evidence both for and against the thought. The goal is to determine whether the thought that gave us this feeling is actually true or not. And we're looking to work with facts - not judgements or opinions. More often than not, you'll realize that the thought that got you into your mood, was not entirely accurate and the evidence doesn't support it.
Now, let's use the evidence to create a balance thought and a good way to do it is to picture yourself giving the same advice to a friend. What would you tell them if he/she was going through something exactly as yours, with the evidence you've put together? What we're trying to do is look at it objectively. Think about that for a moment. Remember: balanced thinking has a positive effect on mood and can help you think more soundly in response to a not-so-great event, whether real or imagined.
After we have a more balanced thought, we can proceed and react to the scenario and/or feeling in a much more constructive way. Instead of reacting to it in our previous mindset (remember? Angry, sad, anxious), we're now in a more stable mindset, have analyzed to see if the feeling is really true and have looked at it from an objective perspective.
As you do this more and more and practice, you might start noticing patterns that certain things trigger your thoughts and bad mood. Then you'll be able to identify when those situations come up and not let yourself get into that mood.
A common sense examples
A friend has cancelled on you. You had bought tickets/made a reservations and this person cancelled. Immediately, you might think:
"He/she doesn't like me anymore"
"He/she has found a new friend or prefers someone else"
"What did I do wrong?"
In turn, these thoughts make you angry or sad. But hold on a minute! We're not going to react immediately and say "You suck! I never want to see you again"! No, instead we're going to follow the steps above:
Let's analyze facts:
Evidence in favor of your negative thought: Well, she did cancel on you last minute. Not cool.
Evidence against your negative thought: Well, you guys went out last week and both of you had a fun time. You guys talked on the phone maybe this week, or even saw each other in person. These facts support the argument that no apparent issue was present just a week or a few days ago. Could there be something else? Then you think: well, she's never cancelled before, or perhaps even "the last time she cancelled was because her mom and her got into an argument". So again: we're looking for facts and evidence that allow you to rationally analyze the situation.
Assuming the evidence against your thought of "she doesn't like me anymore" is stronger than the evidence for it, then you've come to an understanding as to why something happened and can now react to itand change your mood. So, in this case, instead we tell our friend "no problem!" and maybe look at inviting someone else to the movies/dinner. That way, you have a win-win situation.
And that's a wrap! But remember: this is not easy to master. So practice, practice! Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions, and what you thought of this episode, and I will see you again very soon!
Disclaimer: Information being provided on this page is general in nature and is not intended to replace or serve as therapy. Should you be experiencing emotional distress or difficulties at school, work, or with relationships, it is encouraged that you contact your insurance health provider to locate a mental health professional in your area. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or others at your nearest emergency room.