Five ways to improve a bad mood when you don’t want to be in one

Ways to improve a bad mood. Not the sexiest topic in all the land, but certainly one that we can all relate to.

Bad moods. Yes, I think this falls under health and wellness, and yes, I think this is a common issue we all deal with. The truth is, I’m not as moody as I used to be, but I can tell you first-hand, that when a bad mood hits … it doesn’t just go away. Oftentimes, I have to actively try to fix it. Maybe you’re the same.

Today, I’m going to share what works for me. But of course, my thoughts, experiences and tips are not a substitute for professional advice. So if you are having severe mood swings or are struggling with your mental health, I highly encourage you to seek help from a licensed medical professional. But today, this is light and just about those regular bad moods that can strike from here to there.

And let’s be clear: Bad moods can happen to all of us. As women, hormonally, we are more inclined to have changing moods due to our natural cycles and how they affect our brains. But outside of that, it’s natural to sometimes feel somewhat aggravated, overwhelmed or frustrated and let that color your outlook. And that’s okay, because we DO NOT HAVE TO BE HAPPY ALL THE TIME. But, we also don’t want to let things fester when we can proactively improve them. After you’ve had a chance to absorb your bad mood, think about why it happened, assess your feelings, and sit with them, then, it could be time to take action.

Let’s chat remedies …

Five ways to improve a bad mood when you don’t want to be in one

Five ways to improve a bad mood when you don't want to be in one by A Lady Goes West

The thing with the bad mood is, you do have to try to get out of it, after you assess it. Sometimes the bad moods fade on their own, but typically, you have to take an action, and I think that’s very important to remember. Here are my tips and things that work for me …

1. Take a solo walk in the fresh air.

This sounds easier than done, because if you’re at work or you’re a primary caretaker, I know you can’t just drop everything and go for a stroll. But if there’s anyway you can get 10 to 30 minutes of fresh air on foot when you’re feeling a bad mood come on, I would recommend it. The fresh air, sunshine and movement will automatically brighten your spirits. While I usually listen to a podcast or my group fitness music on my solo walks, I also think that … gasp … walking in silence works great too. Being alone with your thoughts is a good thing.

There have been times I’ve been stressed or annoyed, and Dave has literally said to me: … “I think you should go for a walk.” He knows this works for me. That’s why I think it’s worth a try. I go on these solo walks even if I’m not in a bad mood, and they bring me so much. I always come back in a better headspace than when I left.

2. Organize, upgrade, tidy or freshen up your surroundings and space.

I think I’m a little different in this category, because I keep things very neat and tidy most of the time. For example: If Dave leaves one thing out that he needs, I’ve often moved it and put it away before he returns to use the item. (We’ve lived together for almost 13 years, so he’s used to this, but every once in a while, he’ll have to call me out on it.) This may not be normal. But I also know that your surroundings and environment can play a major part in your mood. I am very much affected by my surroundings and like them to look and feel a certain way.

If you get into a bad mood and your house is a mess and you’re just sitting there stewing, it’s not a great combination. While you don’t have to scrub the bathroom to feel better (that wouldn’t work for me), you can clear off the kitchen counter, put out some fresh flowers or even buy a new picture frame that makes you smile. Yes, this is so darn simple, but we are very much influenced by the environment in which we spend our time, so if your bad mood strikes and you are somewhere that you can control your surroundings, do it. I often start a load of laundry, empty the garbages and rearrange some decor when I’m in a bad mood, and it gives me a boost to get control and get things done.

Also, serious bonus points for buying yourself some flowers. I need to do that more, and I said I would after I read “Buy Yourself the F-ing Lilies,” which I reviewed here. We all deserve fresh flowers. My favorite flower purchase for myself is the $5 sunflower from Trader Joe’s. Anyone else?

How to improve a bad mood by A Lady Goes West

3. Find someone or something to hug or cuddle with.

If your love language is touch, this is probably the one for you. If you’re in a mood, you may want to be totally apart from others, and I get that. But you also may need a big hug. If you don’t have anything to hug, then wrap yourself in a cozy blanket or go get a massage. I find that I always get a little relief from snuggling or holding Rudy, or doing the same with Brady, because they are like my little stuffed animals. Sometimes I snuggle with them both at the same time. It’s simple, but it’s real. But let’s be honest, sometimes the people or things you are snuggling are the causes of your bad moods, so this can be complicated. 🙂

Also, if you ever come to my house, you’ll notice I am constantly holding Rudy. I will definitely answer the door with him in my arms, and he will stay there while we hang out, unless we’re eating, then he’ll sit on the floor underneath us begging for crumbs. He’s a constant fixture near me. Bit obsessed, actually. That’s not related to this point, but I felt like going off on a tangent, because we’re all friends here.

Tips on bad moods by A Lady Goes West

4. Fix your face and hair or put on a new outfit.

It’s the little things! Do you remember back in the original COVID shelter-in-place in early 2020 how everyone was not used to staying home all the time and not wearing makeup or doing their hair? Or was that just me? Anywho, I went for so long without getting ready, that I was sick of looking at myself in the mirror and looking blah. It was a constant reminder that things were weird and we were all home all day. Yes, this was especially bad in the Bay Area in California where I was at the time, but still.

Long story short: Every once in a while when I started to change into regular clothes and put on makeup and fix my hair, I felt more normal and better. It’s a little pick-me-up to feel like you look presentable. And no, I don’t think you have to curl your hair and wear lipstick to be a happy person — not at all — but I’m saying that if you’re feeling in a certain mood, there’s a chance fixing yourself up a bit could help.

I’m guilty of buying new things and then letting them sit with the tags on for far too long, because I’m always waiting for something special before I debut a new item. I’m trying to get better about this though, because there doesn’t need to be a special occurrence to use new things. Today is special, because it’s the present.

The point with this one is that putting on a new piece of clothing always improves my mood, so that can also be a mood booster, in addition to fixing the hair and face. If you already have something new in your closet, give it a go, or maybe treat yourself to a little something with a click “add to cart.”

Ashley on the back stairs by A Lady Goes West

5. Write out what’s bothering you, and write out what’s going right.

As a writer, I’m always a fan of writing things out. And I think you can truly change your mindset when you put pen to paper. I suggest doing this on actual paper with an actual pen too, and not just in the notes column in your phone, if possible.

When you feel yourself getting grumpy by all the things coming at you, stop. Grab a pen and paper, and get to writing. You can write down on one side of the paper, the little or big things that have added up to make you feel how you feel. Then you can write down on the other side of the paper, the little or big things that are going well or making you happy. Then, go back through each item, think about them, see what you could or should do differently. And cross those things off one by one. 

I needed this the other day when I had just finished taking my Precision Nutrition re-certification exam, and I got a passing score on the first try. I was so happy and wanted to celebrate. But literally two seconds later, I opened an email with a huge medical bill — which is a common occurrence over here lately. Without giving you the full backstory, Dave and I have struggled with our medical insurance provider the last few months. We didn’t have the right coverage for a while, which resulted in us owing thousands of dollars after all of my prenatal appointments and even my D&E surgery (a huge slap in the face after that experience, let me tell you), and we changed the coverage, only to get a fresh set of huge bills for our COVID tests and care earlier this month. It’s been incredibly frustrating, and I’ve spent so much time on the phone investigating. Now, it’s a very testy subject for me. So back to the other day: All of this happened, and I had to call the insurance people again, so then, I’m on hold with insurance, while trying to get some chores done that were piling up, right before we were set to leave the house for an appointment. A big and bad mood struck in this moment, and I nearly forgot all about passing my exam, which could have and should have been something worth celebrating. I was able to rectify some of the bills over the phone, we rushed out the door and headed to Brady’s haircut, and the change of scenery did me some good, but I was still not pleased. I literally needed a pen and paper at that moment, but I settled for talking out my lists on each side of what I was thinking. It didn’t fix it all, but it helped a bit. I should have brought a pen though, because the good things would have outweighed the bad things in print, that’s for sure. The power of writing things down does matter. Next time I’m on it.

Ashley and Brady on the stairs by A Lady Goes West

Honorable mentions for additional ways to improve a bad mood …

We are all different, so different things may work for you to improve a bad mood. Here are some other options worth trying when you’re feeling a way …

  • Take a warm bath with Epsom salt or take a warm shower with a shower bomb.
  • Sit down in a comfortable spot and read a real book, preferably fiction. Light a nice candle, while you’re at it.
  • Put on some music and dance it out. May I recommend some Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber?
  • Work out. Preferably something gentle on the body and not something too intense. I think yoga, Pilates, walking, light cycling or even barre are great mood boosters. Even though you can get endorphins from tough workouts too — when we’re stressed, we don’t want to stress the body even more with high-intensity exercise, by the way. Choose gentle in these instances.
  • Eat a healthy and tasty snack. Sometimes our bad moods are brought on by hunger. And while hunger is normal, if you constantly find yourself hungry and grumpy and in a bad mood, you may need some help looking at your eating patterns and overall nutrition. When I was slightly underfed years ago, I was MUCH more likely to be moody. These days, I’m very much well fed at all times and food never plays a part in my moods. Just something to think about and “food for thought,” if you will.
  • Pour yourself some ice cold sparkling water in a fancy wine glass. Sip, breathe, enjoy. Where are all my Topo Chico lovers at?

Of course, not all of these actions will matter to you, but a combination of a few of them sure may help to improve a bad mood. So I appreciate you sticking by and getting through my list.

Ashley on the stairs by A Lady Goes West

(The joggers I’m wearing in these pictures are sold out, but here are some similar ones. And here’s my watch strap.)

Thanks for reading this post on how to improve a bad mood. Go out and have a great day, my people! And remember, if a bad mood gets you down, sit with your feelings, figure out why the bad mood occurred, allow yourself to feel what you feel, then, if you’re inclined, take some action to fix your mood. You don’t have to be happy-go-lucky all the time, but you do owe it to yourself to feel as good as you can, and sometimes that takes a little work. Be well! 🙂 xoxo

Other posts you may like …

Questions of the day for YOU …

How often do you find yourself in a bad mood?

What works to help you get out of a bad mood?

How are YOU right now?

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  1. Hi Ashley:
    I really loved this post, so thank you for sharing.
    Full disclosure, I’ve been experience sad and bad moods often lately. I am really struggling through some health stuff and when I feel bad physically (more often than not these days), it really impacts me mentally. And then that adds to my mental health struggles and it ends up being a huge mess (I sound really fun, huh?!) If it’s a work day, I just slap on a smile and plug through the day. If it’s a weekend, I sulk for longer than I should. These tips are very helpful and I think I am going to try the suggestion for writing things out. I regularly journal my gratefuls and manifestations. But I will try doing this in my low moments.
    And I love the tip on dancing it out, particularly to Biebs. I have done this! Several times actually. I can remember some moments where I literally had tears streaming down my face when I pushed play and started dancing to Intentions and by the end of the song, the tears had stopped. So that’s a good tip too.
    Thanks again and I hope you have a great Monday!

    1. Hi Courtney! Thank you for reading and for sharing, my friend. I’m so sorry to hear you’re still dealing with your health issues, and I sure hope you start finding some answers or improvement soon. When you don’t feel well, it can totally make it harder to have a positive outlook or cheery disposition — I totally get that — so don’t beat yourself up about feeling that way. I know you do so much to keep yourself well, so I hope that you have some better feelings days ahead. And dancing it out is always a good idea. Keep your chin up, my beautiful and strong friend! And I’d love to have a dance party with you one day! 🙂

      1. Thank you so much, Ashley! I’d love to have a dance party with you someday too! And take one of your workout classes. And go for a walk with you. And eat one of your favorite chicken-free lunch bowls!

  2. Hi Ashley! I loved your suggestions, many of them I already do, but there are a couple that I’m keeping in mind for next time! If I’m grumpy, I will take a nap (sometimes the only thing that will help at that time). Sometimes I’ll also buy myself a small treat, even though it’s full of sugar and no nutrients, it does sometimes help to fix my mood! Definitely agree about your physical space impacting your mood – I could never ever live is a messy, disorganized place. I know it doesn’t bother some people but that’s not the case for me! Have a beautiful week – this was such a cute post!

    1. Hi Shelby! That’s great you are already employing some mood-boosting tips in your life. I think naps are amazing, and I really do not take them enough. Thank you for reading and for sharing, lady! 🙂 xoxo

  3. One easy thing I do is something my husband started if he noticed I was in a mood. He would say “redirect” and it would help me stop and redirect my bad mood out the door. I do it for him too, I say it to myself sometimes and there are many times this simple thing doesn’t work for me! I love your tips and will have to keep them in mind. 🙂

  4. Fantastic post! I 10000% agree about the walks, my favorite option when I’m in a bad mood. Feeling the sun or fresh air on my face can make things so much better. Another thing I like to do at the end of a long workday is to lay on the bed with the curtains wide open to feel the sun on my face. I close my eyes and snuggle the pup for 5-10 minutes in silence.

    I learned about the Choose Again method from Gabby Bernstein, we can always “Choose Again” when a negative mood or thought hits us :). (

    1. Hi Jessie! I’ve listened to Gabby Bernstein on a few podcasts but never read any of her work — I’ll look into it. And feeling the sun on your face with puppy snuggling is a sure-fire way to improve a mood. Thanks for reading and sharing, my friend. Happy Friday!

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