Healthier ways to help teens get out of a bad mood.

Bust Up a Bad Mood!

Some people ignore their BFFs when they’re in a bad mood. Others eat a quart of rocky road ice cream. Neither is a very healthy way to express your emotions. There actually are ways to get out of a bad mood that work better — and won’t leave you feeling sick to your stomach.

If You … Eat Your Troubles Away

Are you a stress eater? Do you drown your sorrows in a chocolate milkshake or a box of cookies? You’re not alone. Many stress eaters indulge in high-fat foods when they’re sad or mad, but that “comfort food” usually offers little comfort in the end, says Robert Pretlow, MD, author of Overweight: What Kids Say. “In fact, stress eating only makes you feel worse,” he says.

The next time you’re tempted to turn to food to make yourself feel better, try this instead.

  1. Pinpoint the reason you’re bummed. For example, maybe you had a fight with your mom about your weight and what you were eating. When you think about what really made you mad, you realize you feel like she doesn’t understand you because she’s skinny. Pretlow says to write that down.
  2. Underneath that, write down something you can do about it, such as: “I’m going to write a letter to my mom explaining that when she bugs me about my weight, I get stressed and I eat even more.” Having a plan of action will instantly help you feel more in control, he says.
  3. Then, brainstorm some things you can do beside eating to make yourself feel better. To get you started on your list, Pretlow suggests calling a friend, listening to music, going outside, or getting online to connect with other teens. When you’ve got some ideas written down, pick one and do it!
  4. If you still want to eat, try turning to healthier food options. Start with an apple or orange before reaching for the ice cream. Or try a smaller portion — savor just one small scoop of ice cream from a bowl instead of grabbing a spoon and eating the whole container.

If You … Lash Out When You’re Mad

Are you the kind of person who gets dramatic or explosive when you’re upset or angry? If so, you may find that a physical release will help you get out of a bad mood. “Hitting a punching bag — or even a pillow — will help you get your emotions out,” says Ronda Rose-Kayser, a certified life coach at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D. Kickboxing is another good outlet for anger, she says.

It also helps to try dealing with your emotions sooner. That’s the advice of adolescent psychologist Eileen Stone. “For most people, there’s a buildup of emotion throughout the day,” says Stone, who is with Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D. “Deal with the little things that get you down sooner. Then you don’t have this big burst of anger that explodes all at once.”

For instance, if a friend hurts your feelings, talk to her about it instead of pretending to ignore it. Yes, it’s probably going to be uncomfortable to bring it up. But, “If you talk to someone about a potential problem when you’re still calm, it’s much more likely she’ll listen,” Stone says. “If you wait until you’re lashing out, most people will just tune you out.”

If You … Hold a Grudge

For some people, a bad grade on a test or a rude comment from a classmate is enough to put a damper on the entire day. If it’s difficult for you to let things go, Rose-Kayser recommends asking yourself if what’s bugging you is really that big of a deal.

“Here’s where self-talk comes into play. You need to talk to yourself to get yourself out of that intensity spiral,” she says. “Tell yourself: ‘Here’s what happened. This is why it happened. I am angry, but I am not going to let one isolated incident ruin the rest of my day.'”

If You … Shut Down When You’re Angry

Do you lock yourself in your room or bury yourself under the covers when you’re upset? Some people need to be by themselves to process their emotions and get out of a bad mood, Rose-Kayser tells WebMD. And it’s fine to give yourself some space. But if you notice yourself building walls between you and the outside world, it’s time to break them down and reconnect. Find a way to express yourself.

“Is there an activity you can do to help you express your emotions?” Rose-Kayser says. “Maybe it’s talking to a friend or journaling.” Not expressing your emotions is dangerous, according to Stone, because if you bottle them up for too long, they’ll have nowhere to go. “They’ll build up and up and up and will eventually come out in a negative way when they finally do overflow,” she says.

If you feel like you want to sleep 24/7 when you’re in a bad mood, keep in mind that even moderate exercise can make you feel better by raising your levels of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I want to sleep because my body needs rest, or do I just want to get away from everyone?'” Rose-Kayser says. If it’s the latter, walk around for 30 minutes  to see if that improves your mood.

By Julie Taylor WebMD
Reviewed by Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, PhD

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