This is a repost from the archives. It was originally published in May 2016, but I think it’s worth revisiting, especially at this time of year, when full schedules often breed grumpiness. 😉
My husband Riley and I returned back from a long trip last-last Saturday. We then spent the following Sunday doing laundry, catching up on emails, grocery shopping, starting to unpack, etc. You know, all that stuff you do when you return from being away. The next day, Monday, we both dove back into our weekly work and responsibilities. By the time Friday afternoon rolled around, we were both exhausted, since neither of us had gotten enough sleep for nearly three weeks at that point.
On this past Saturday, we had plans to take our dog Charley to the groomer and then take care of our cars (oil changes, registration renewals, etc.). And we did those things, but we. were. grumpy. Both of us were unusually snippy, frustrated, and annoyed–with one another, with every task on our to-do list, with the world in general.
After a tense morning of getting things done, we got back home and worked on separate things for a few hours, which was a necessary breather for both of us. I began to think how both of us need to be better about recognizing when we’ve hit our limits so that we can do what is necessary to get our moods back on track. (For the record, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with being in a bad mood–I think it’s a normal part of life–but when anger, frustration, exhaustion, or feeling overwhelmed manifests itself in hurtful language, rude comments, insensitive actions, etc., there’s a problem.)
After thinking more about it throughout the weekend, I’ve come up with a number of things that I know I can do to help readjust my mood when I’m grumpy. Of course, this list will change drastically depending on your personality, but here’s some food for thought.
1 | Eat
This one should be obvious, but probably 90 percent of the time, when I’m in a bad mood, I’m either hungry or tired (I’ll address being tired below). It’s amazing what a snack or a meal can do for me, especially one that’s high in protein and satisfying. When I’m feeling grumpy, the first thing I should check is the last time I’ve eaten. I’m notorious for unintentionally skipping meals, especially when my mind is busy, so taking a moment to assess my hunger level would probably do wonders as far as keeping my mood in check.
2 | Sleep
Much like hunger, exhaustion will quickly turn my upbeat attitude into a frustrated and snippy one. Unfortunately, it can be hard to stop everything and take a nap in the middle of the day. Because of this, it would be wise for me to make an effort to go bed early on days when I need the extra shut-eye, or try to snag a brief 20 minute nap sometime during in the day. When I’m especially tired, I try not to watch TV after dinner, because not only is the blue light disruptive, but I end up staying up much later than if I go into our bedroom and take a bath or read.
3 | Withdraw
One of the best courses of action for me when I’m in a mood is to withdraw from whatever environment I’m in. I attribute this largely to the fact that I’m an introvert; I simply cannot spend too much time around other people (even people I love!) because it drains me. It seems to me that the faster I realize I need a moment to be alone, gather my thoughts, and regroup, the better off I am. (I’ve also found that if I cannot physically withdraw, it’s usually a good idea for me to zip my lips so that I don’t say something I’ll regret later!)
4 | Take a hot shower or bath
There is something about a hot shower or bath that resets me. Clearly, there are a lot of times when a shower or bath is impossible, but there are other times, like this past Saturday, when I easily could’ve withdrawn and showered or bathed. I especially love a good, long Epsom salt or bubble bath because it relaxes me like few other things do; for this reason, I try to take a bath at least a couple of times a month if I can. On grumpy days, this is a great option.
5 | Talk to a third party
Sometimes, it is so, so necessary and helpful to talk to someone out of the situation/environment I’m in, you know what I mean? I’ve always felt like this. Like, when I was living with my family as a high school student (and needed a moment), I remember how grounding it was to call a friend and chat for a few minutes. Now that I’m married, it’s really nice for me to talk to my friends or family every once in a while, especially if I’m having an off day. Because I’m more introverted, calling someone usually isn’t my first thought, but something I like to do after I’ve eaten, slept, withdrawn, or taken a shower/bath.
6 | Write
When I write, it feels like my soul can breathe more deeply. In the midst of feeling grumpy, if I pull out my journal or laptop, I can ground myself quickly. I don’t even have to write about what I’m feeling–just the practice of stringing words together into sentences is therapeutic to me. In fact, sometimes, I’ll just take out my cell phone, open up the notes app, and start typing.
7 | Seek God in the mess
Some people are great about turning to God in prayer when they’re feeling grumpy or moody; I am not one of those people. When I feel annoyed and “over it,” I’m so wrapped up in my own frustration that pretty much the last thing I want to do is quiet my spirit and humble myself before the Lord. (I don’t like this about myself, but I’m being honest!) All that said, I have never, never, never regretted time with God in the middle of a tough day. Whether I pull out my Bible or phone (which has a Bible on it) and read a few verses, listen to some uplifting music, or simply close my eyes and pray, I always feel more peaceful and gentle afterwords. It’s the first step that’s the hardest!
// What alerts you that you need a moment to yourself? What do you do to improve your mood when you’re feeling grumpy?
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