10 Powerful Ways to Overcome Anger or a Bad Mood

You have a fight with your best friend. You don’t get that promotion you wanted. You wrangle through bad traffic and bad drivers to get somewhere in a rush.

All of these examples could set off anger or a bad mood. It’s normal to have a bad mood or be upset sometimes. However, it’s important to find the right balance between having a bad mood or feeling angry versus wallowing in it for too long — and letting those negative feelings take control.

It’s possible to overcome a bad mood or anger, but it takes a commitment to do it. “You can have control over your life or emotions. It just takes practice,” says Annette Nunez, psychotherapist and founder and director of Breakthrough Interventions, a Denver-based therapy practice that helps parents.

Here are 10 powerful ways you can overcome a bad mood or anger:

1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling. 2. Ask, “Why?”
3. Exercise.
4. Eat.
5. Try mindfulness.
6. Smile.
7. Use visual reminders.
8. Call a friend.
9. Let it go.
10. Seek help if needed.

[See: 7 Reasons You’re in a Bad Mood That Can Actually Be Serious.]

10 Tips to Get Over a Bad Mood or Being Angry

1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling.
Some people may encourage you to ignore a bad mood or difficult feelings, but that’s actually not healthy in the long run. “Burying and suppressing feelings is hard, so hard that it often doesn’t work,” says Amanda Fialk, a licensed clinical social worker and chief of clinical services for The Dorm, a treatment center with locations in New York City and Washington, D.C.

When you don’t process and acknowledge a bad mood or anger, you put yourself at higher risk for:

Harmful and dangerous habits. It leads some people to turn to substances like drugs or alcohol to numb their pain.

Loneliness. “Emotions are a natural part of the human experience,” Fialk says. If you constantly avoid negative feelings, you may build an emotional wall around you that keeps you from making a real connection with others. Over time, you might feel isolated and lonely.

Physical pain. Overwhelming emotional stress puts stress on the body and can lead to headaches, digestive issues and several other health problems.

Instead of trying to bury your negative emotion, realize what you’re feeling. Give the emotion or mood a name. It can be as simple as saying, “I’m in a bad mood” or “I’m angry right now.”

Also take a minute to reflect on your physical feelings, Fialk advises. For instance:

— Is your stomach in knots?

— Is your heart beating fast?

The act of recognizing what you feel can help it pass more quickly, says Sophie Lazarus, a psychologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus.

2. Ask, “Why?”
Bad moods and anger don’t come out of nowhere, Nunez says. Think about why you feel the way you do. This can help you pinpoint what changes might need to be made in your life so you don’t repeat the same scenarios in life over and over. “Emotions can give us important information, and we don’t want to ignore them or push them away,” Lazarus says.

If you find yourself feeling anger regularly, take a deeper look to track a few trends about your anger, Nunez advises. When you feel calmer, write down or talk to someone you trust about:

— How often you feel angry.

— How long it lasts.

— What causes your anger.

This can be the first step to breaking the anger pattern. Sometimes, talking with a trusted friend can be enough to work through the anger pattern. Other times, you may need to seek help from a mental health professional.

[READ: Protecting Your Heart From Negative Emotions.]

3. Exercise.
Something that gets your blood pumping more quickly can give you a physical outlet to express your emotions. Exercise also helps to release “happy” chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, all of which help to reduce stress. Even a short burst of intense exercise, such as a few minutes of push ups or jumping jacks, can be enough to put your mind and body in a more positive place, Lazarus says.

4. Eat.
Sometimes, your bad mood or anger may have a physical cause. Maybe you’re tired. Or maybe you haven’t had enough to eat. In that case, grab a small piece of chocolate, a healthy snack bar or something that can help you feel less “hangry” (hungry and angry), Nunez advises.

5. Try mindfulness.
You’ve likely seen countless examples of how mindfulness practices, such as meditation and yoga, can improve your life. Devotees seem to effortlessly achieve a calmer state of mind. Practicing meditation, self-reflection or yoga are good to help let your emotions just be rather than fueling them further, Lazarus says. However, it takes practice to achieve this.

If you’re new to mindfulness, start with a simple goal, such as sitting quietly for five minutes after you wake up to set an intention for the day. “I won’t get triggered if someone cuts me off on the street” or “I won’t get upset if my coworker doesn’t say hi to me” are examples of emotion-diffusing intentions that you can set. Aim to practice this regularly, and it’ll become a habit.

[READ: Can an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Improve Your Mental Health?]

6. Smile.
Smiling tricks the brain into thinking you’re happy, Nunez says. Smiling triggers endorphins, or “happy” chemicals in your brain. When you feel bad, smile. “It may seem fake or false, but your brain doesn’t know any different,” she says.

7. Use visual reminders to help.
Nunez recommends to clients that they write down positive statements on notecards or sticky paper and place them around their house. Some statements they might write include:

— Breathe.

— You’ve got this.

— Smile.

— It’s not that bad.

These positive statements work to get you to think differently about what seems to be a bad situation, she explains. When you’re upset, you’ll see the reminders and likely start to act differently.

8. Call a friend.
Talking about your bad mood or anger with a trusted friend is a productive way to recognize and overcome what you’re feeling. That chat with a friend has a secondary effect. “When we engage, we have the chance to have a new experience,” Lazarus says. That new experience can help take your mind off your mood.

9. Let it go.
Make a choice to not hold on to the emotion you’re feeling. It may take a few tries before you can fully release pain or anger, Fialk says. You may have to do something symbolic to achieve it, such as writing a letter to someone who’s made you angry and then ripping the letter to shreds, she says.

10. Seek help if needed.
Having some anger or bad moods is normal. However, it’s time to seek help from a mental health professional if you:

— Find yourself feeling angry or in a bad mood over several weeks.

— Find that your bad moods or anger interfere with your ability to get along with others.

— Take your bad mood or anger out on others.

— Simple irritations of everyday life — such as waiting in a line or getting cut off by another driver — cause you to feel angry or enraged.

More from U.S. News

What Not to Say to Someone With Depression

7 Habits for a Long, Healthy Life

10 Unexpected Signs That You’re Stressed

10 Powerful Ways to Overcome Anger or a Bad Mood originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 06/14/24: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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