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Feeling Disgruntled? How to Change Your Mood

“Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Everyone experiences a bad mood from time to time. In fact, it’s considered normal to have different emotions given circumstances, physical ailments or condition, lack of sleep, too much work or other stress and a variety of other causative factors. Still, when you’re in a funk, feeling disgruntled, you want a quick way out of it. After all, feeling dissatisfied is no way to live on a continuing basis. So, how do you change your mood? Perhaps these tips will help.

Shake it up.

This suggestion isn’t to get jiggly, but rather to do something today that’s not your normal routine. Likely, when you’re feeling upset or dissatisfied, it can be due to doing the same thing day in and day out. You need variety in life, so choose an activity or embark on a project that’s different. Indeed, a willingness to spice things up and change behaviors, modify routines and discovering something new, say researchers, can keep you motivated, improve mood, and prevent burnout.

Go outside for a walk.

Sometimes the simplest action can be the most effective at improving mood. For example, if you want to brighten your mood, step outside and go for a walk. Brisk stepping is good, yet even walking at a modest pace is great exercise that is beneficial for the release of endorphins in the brain, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. As for other exercise, according to researchers at the University of Connecticut’s kinesiology department, any exercise that includes light or moderate intense physical activity yields significant improvements in feelings of well-being.

Pamper yourself.

If you constantly feel tired and know you’ve not been getting sufficient sleep, it’s time to do something about it. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased accidents at work and while driving, greater risk of medical conditions such as coronary disease, high blood pressure, and more, as well as sluggishness, inability to concentrate, memory lapses, quickness to lash out and other signs of a sour mood. Aim for a solid 7 hours or more of sleep each night. Eat well-balanced meals. Exercise regularly. Put yourself in the frame of mind where what you do makes you feel good: a bath, petting the cat, cooking your favorite meal, listening to music. Pampering yourself pays handsome dividends when it boosts your mood.

Talk live with a friend.

The sound of the human voice can be reassuring, welcoming, like balm that soothes a wound. Talking live with a friend, loved one or family member, even a trusted co-worker can help ease loneliness, temper sadness, eradicate orneriness, dampen anger and erase disappointment. It isn’t what you talk about that makes a difference, though. It’s the fact that you are exchanging pleasantries and conversation with another human being, someone who can react to the tone of your voice and acknowledge in real time what’s going on with both of you. The reciprocity of this communication helps lift spirits and dash a down mood, especially during times of stress.

Get creative.

Feel like splashing some paint on a canvas to vent frustration or see where your creativity takes you? A study from Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions found that coloring and other forms of art therapy can help dispel a bad mood. Delving deeper into their experiments, however, they found that when participants engaged in open studio sessions, or art therapy moderated by and with the encouragement of a therapist also worked to create good feelings. The key takeaway here is to have an audience or co-participant as you get creative, for it’s the exchange of ideas in the process of being creative that appears to further self-discovery, creative expression and exploration resulting in improvements in mood.

Count your blessings.

Gratitude is good for body, mind and soul. Put another way, when you’re grateful, you’re enhancing your ability to improve mood through boosts in overall well-being. Show gratitude when you receive something from another, when you wake up in the morning and feel grateful to be alive, when you think about all the good things in your life and acknowledge how blessed you are to have them.

Do something for another.

Did you know that the simple act of doing something good for another can lead to a feeling of contentment? Researchers at the University of Zurich found that generosity – even a little generosity – makes people feel better afterwards, experiencing greater contentment. Even the intent to do something was enough to signal the brain’s altruistic area and intensify interaction between that area and the one associated with happiness. Help your neighbor take out the trash barrels, bring backyard flowers to a shut-in, hold open the door for others at the coffeeshop, say hello to those you pass on your walks. It doesn’t take much to make a substantial difference in your mood.

Challenge your mind.

Distraction may be your best solution to thwart a negative mood, especially if other avenues aren’t available to you now. Busy yourself in problem-solving, drag out the puzzle box and set to work arranging the pieces in a cohesive whole. Balance your checkbook. Pull together the paperwork to take to your CPA or start on your income tax return. The more challenging the effort, the more likely you’ll find your sour mood dissipates. Even small increments of success will add to your satisfaction and help boost your mood.

Engross yourself in a book or movie.

Like mind challenges’ ability to improve mood, diving into an enjoyable book or getting lost in a movie also create the opportunity to ditch unwelcome thoughts and negative mood with little effort. Since it’s so easy to do, it helps to always have a book ready that you want to read or are already in the process of reading. Movies you’ve taped on the DVR or bookmarked on your TV provider’s site also help ensure you’ve got access to entertainment that you can engross yourself in.

Plan a goal for tomorrow that excites you.

Nothing lifts spirits more than looking forward to doing something. When you create goals that you can’t wait to get busy working on, you’re already boosting your mood. For this reason, it’s always helpful to have a list of goals to refer to, so you have something to do tomorrow that excites and motivates you. Revise your goals regularly, making notes on progress achieved and what yet needs attention. This exercise also serves to sharpen your interest level for what’s on your agenda tomorrow. Looking forward, not backward, is often the key to overcoming negative thoughts or mood.

Feeling Disgruntled? How to Change Your Mood

Suzanne Kane

Suzanne Kane is a Los Angeles-based writer, blogger and editor. Passionate about helping others live a vibrant and purposeful life, she writes daily for her website, She is a regular contributor to Psych Central. You can reach her at

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APA Reference
Kane, S. (2018). Feeling Disgruntled? How to Change Your Mood. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 20 Feb 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.