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How to Combat Negativity

We’ve all been there. Sometimes you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and sometimes a stranger spills her coffee down your white blouse while you’re stuck on public transit on the way to a 9:00AM meeting with your most important client. Honestly, sometimes you deserve that foul mood you’re in, regardless of the lead-up. Far be it from me to pretend like we don’t all have our moments, but for those of us who are trying, and failing, and trying again to be just a little better every day, I thought I’d share some tips that help me to pull myself out of a funk – even when it seems well-deserved.

  • Evaluate why your reaction may be disproportionate to the cause: We’ll just start the list off nice and heavy here, because ultimately, the best way to remedy a bad mood is to dig into the root cause of your reaction. Sure, a coffee stain down your blouse is a big bummer and (IMO) merits being a little peeved, but should it derail your whole day? Probably not. Is your stress response fatigued because of other factors in your life, causing you to go 0-60 on smaller upsets? Take a moment to check-in with yourself. Ask yourself “how am I doing? What do I need right now to be happy?” Relax. Unclench your jaw. Un-furrow your brow. Settle your shoulders. Sit up straighter. Life is happening for you, not to you. You control your reactions and you’ve got this.

  • Box Breathing: I learned this one from self-awareness queen BrenĂ© Brown. There are a multitude of benefits to filling your lungs with deep breathes and slowing your breathing – it increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system to help you better control your reactions to stress and negativity (says the American Institute of Stress). Box breathing is an easy way to ground yourself in that practice. Inhale a slow deep breath, count to 4 through the inhale. Hold for 4 seconds. Let it out slowly, count to 4 through the exhale. Relax your diaphragm and hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds. Repeat 4 times.

  • Brush your teeth: I don’t have a scientific explanation for why this works, but take my word for it, it just does. Could be because your brain associates the feeling of freshly brushed teeth with the morning, when the day has so much potential. Could be that it just feels nice and allows you to feel more confident . Who knows. But for whatever reason, give it a try. I promise, this is a tried and true trick for a mood upturn.

  • Get some fresh air & move your body: two huge benefits here: you change your scenery, forcing your brain to reevaluate what your reaction to your environment should be and you release endorphins, which trigger a “happiness response” by reducing the chemicals in your body which quite literally tell you you’re stressed. Like me, you’ve probably experienced the effects of this before – shoot, it’s part of the reason I run, it’s basically therapy. But don’t think you have to wait until your after-work boxing class, this is a benefit you can get, even in the middle of the day and without needing a full wardrobe change. Take a brisk walk around the block, use your standing desk, walk the office stairs a few times, offer to go get someone a cup of coffee. Push yourself to change your surroundings and then adjust your response to one of positivity and gratitude.

  • Send someone an email/text of gratitude: Centering yourself in gratitude is the single fastest way to turn a foul mood around. I try to keep a running list of what I’m grateful for throughout the day, but sometimes my bad attitude gets in the way. That’s where it’s helpful to turn outward. Expressing gratitude to someone else – whether for a specific thing or just in thanks for their presence in your life – compounds your gratitude because you’re sharing it with someone else. Brightening his/her day has a boomerang effect, strengthening the human connection is strengthened and shifting your focus from something negative to something positive.

  • Smile at a stranger: Have you ever tried just smiling at a stranger? Chances are, their automatic reaction is to smile back. As humans, it’s in our nature to feed off of the energy of other humans around us, so when we initiate positivity, it’s likely that the same will be mirrored back to us. In this case, there are fascinating studies that prove how smiling tricks our brains into happiness and reduces the feelings of stress and anxiety, so it’s an easy way to rewire the negative feelings we may be experiencing. If there are no strangers around (words I didn’t imagine I’d write today…), just force your face into a smile and hold it for a few seconds. Rinse and repeat until you notice your mood brightening.

If you have other tips to share with the femme | squad to kick-start a positive attitude, share below!

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