8 Simple Tips to Get Out of a Grumpy Mood

By Marisa Cohen
Reviewed by Susan Ko, Ph.D.
March 07, 2023

Some days, you can be in a happy-go-lucky mood, brushing off small inconveniences and maintaining an even keel. But other times, it can feel like you've morphed into Oscar the Grouch—everything irritates you, you’re annoyed at the world, and you just want to crawl under the covers and wallow in your crankiness.

And sometimes that’s okay. We all deserve a day or two of indulgent self-care without having to plaster on a smile. But if you wake up with the crankies on a day that it would really help to be in a better mood (like when you’ve got a big meeting at work, or you plan on catching up with an old friend over dinner), the following strategies are effective at shifting your negative mood to a more positive one.

Investigate Your Grumpy Mood

"Many issues, like a bad night’s sleep or relationship issues, can contribute to a sour mindset or negative energy," says Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Sonoma, California, and author of Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend. "But in some cases, it may not be readily apparent; hormonal fluctuations or even too much caffeine or alcohol can affect our mood in subtle ways.”

Spending a few minutes thinking about the underlying cause of your grumpy mood can help you move on, she says. "It’s important not to shame or blame yourself but, instead, to wrap yourself in compassion and mindful self-care."

Picture a Happier Place

Visualization is a powerful tool for shifting your mood, says Angela Ficken, L.I.C.S.W., a Boston-based psychotherapist. "When I’m feeling cranky, I close my eyes and picture taking my daughter to the beach in Cape Cod," she says.

Closing your eyes and imagining the sights, sounds, and scents of your happy place—whether it’s a cabin by the lake or the middle of a Broadway theater as the lights go down and the orchestra tunes up—can turn your focus to something that feels better than whatever is bothering you at the moment, Ficken says.

Fortify with Food

There’s a reason the word “hangry” was invented. “Sometimes hydrating or having a snack can really help," Ficken says. Manly points out that the ritual of making coffee or a cup of herbal tea can be very soothing. And Ficken suggests snacking on something with protein that will satisfy your body and your taste buds, like peanut butter on pretzels, hummus and chips, or a granola bar.

Stretch It Out

"Yoga stretches can get your energy moving in uplifting ways," Manly says. In addition to classic poses such as Downward-Facing Dog, she suggests reaching for the sky and circling your arms outward and down to your sides, like the rays of the sun.

Give Thanks

Gratitude can help you look at the bigger picture of your life rather than focusing on the little things that are annoying you right now. Ficken suggests writing down one thing you’re grateful for (maybe your clean bill of health at your last checkup, or your best friend), one thing you appreciate right now (perhaps your fuzzy sweater, or your cat purring on your lap), and one thing you are looking forward to (Taco Tuesday, or an upcoming party for your adorable niece).

"All of these can really help shift our moods because you're not just focused on your grumpy mood anymore,” she says.

Do Some Deep Breathing

When you’re stressed and grumpy, an automatic reflex as simple as breathing can become more complicated: As you take shallow breaths, your body gets even more tense. "Repeat a positive mantra, such as, 'I am blessed, I am safe, I am good’ as you focus on breathing," suggests Manly. "Quiet your mind—don’t engage in any thoughts—for a few moments.” Instead, focus on inhaling deeply into your belly, holding it for four counts, and then exhaling.

Get the Sensation

If you’ve lapsed into full mope mode, simply experiencing some new sensations can perk up your senses and help you feel better, Ficken says. This can involve taking a drive with the windows down, blasting your favorite feel-good music, or popping some slice-and-bake cookies in the oven and breathing in the aroma.

When All Else Fails, Cue Up the Comedy

One of the miracles of modern technology is that with the click of a button, you can call up that scene from Bridesmaids or Abbott Elementary that always makes you howl with laughter, or watch a few minutes of a soul-soothing show like The Great British Baking Show. Even taking in a few minutes of your personal brain balm can help shift your grumpy mood enough so you can shake off the crankies and move forward with your day, Ficken says.

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