Sometimes, when a dark cloud descends on your day you need a quick fix to get your morale back on track.
Whether it’s road rage, work stress, an argument with loved one, nerves ahead of a scary event or a sudden bout of sadness, when your mental health takes a turn for the worse it can be tempting to abandon all hope and declare your day ruined.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. According to experts, by employing practical and psychological techniques you can reframe your thinking and turn that frown upside down.
Here’s how to mend your mood in 10 minutes or less…
1. Fight frustration with gratitude
“Next time you feel bored or frustrated at the mundane day-to-day, turn ‘I’ve got to’ into ‘I get to’,” says psychotherapist Anna Mathur, who runs the podcast The Therapy Edit (annamathur.com/podcast).
For example, instead of thinking, ‘I’ve got to go to the gym’ into ‘I get to go to the gym because I’m physically able’ or turn ‘I’ve got to go to work’ into ‘I get to go to work, whereas not everyone does’.
“This tweak not only welcomes a warm wave of joy-bringing gratitude, but draws your attention to the privileges you may often take for granted,” Mathur explains. “Gratitude brings balance to negative feelings, building resilience and boosting happiness.”
2. Find your courage
When nerves get the better of you, use a memory of a time you were brave to inspire you.
“Every small act of courage, in any part of your life, can help develop your confidence. When you feel scared, find that courage again, and it will give you strength,” says Rosie Nice, author of The Magic Happens in the Silence, a guide to the art of reflective coaching (esb-training.co.uk).
“I abseiled off a building once, years ago on a team building event. It terrified me, but I found courage somewhere within me. Whenever I feel nervous now, I use the courage I found then to help me face my fears.”
3. Ground yourself in reality
“When we spiral into anxious thinking, we’re very much in our heads, and a quick grounding exercise can help bring us back into our senses,” says Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic (thechelseapsychologyclinic.com).
“Stop what you’re doing and list five things you can hear, four things you can see, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.”
This technique has been linked to a number of health benefits, she says, including “improved sleep, better immunity and a natural mood boost”.
4. Get a foot massage
“A foot massage can be a very quick way to boost your mood if you’re feeling low,” says Dr Paul Ettlinger, GP at The London General Practice (thelondongeneralpractice.com).
You don’t have to go to a spa or rope in a volunteer to tend to your toes, however.
“Grab a golf ball, tennis ball or even an orange and rub your foot over it. This will activate your nervous system and release mood enhancing endorphins. Massaging various pressure points on your foot can help get relief from anxiety.”
5. Reach out to a friend
We’ve all got the people we regularly turn to when we’re feeling low, but why not try reaching with someone you might have lost touch with? Not to rant about your problems, but to enjoy the feeling of reconnecting.
“We do not often deliberately lose touch with people, we just don’t always find the time,” says psychologist Dr Audrey Tang (draudreyt.com). “Just scroll down your contacts and give someone a call, chances are they’ll be delighted to hear from you.”
If you’re not quite ready to chat out of the blue, drop them a text instead, she adds.”If you’re a little worried about not having been in touch, it is likely they feel just as guilty, so don’t let that stop you.”
Instead of following a particular method to get your emotions under control, you might be better throwing the rule book out of the window and indulging in a fun, energising activity for 10 minutes.
“Do you love music? Turn up your home stereo and dance as hard as you can like a crazy person for nine minutes – you have to reserve a minute to fix your wild hair,” says Kendall Roach therapist at digital-first health service provider Babylon (babylonhealth.com).
If you’re working from home he suggests: “Knock out an eight-minute cardio, reserving two minutes here because you will need to wipe your face and get a drink of water before your next Zoom call.”
The choice is up to you – as long as it doesn’t involve staring a screen. Roach adds: “This is the best way to recharge your battery in ten minutes because it will not only truly rejuvenate you and give you energy, but it will also empower you.”