IT BEGINS LIKE any other day. You awaken at dawn for Fajr Salah, and then continue with your morning ritual of preparing for school or work. Then something unexpected happens. Perhaps you go to take a shower only to discover there is no hot water.
Maybe you get into your car ready to get started on your way only to hear your engine sputter away uselessly along with your good mood, or, you just get out of bed with a nasty disposition and find yourself becoming more and more irritated with the fact that you don’t have a concrete reason for the way that you are feeling. Whatever the cause, bad moods strike all of us at one time or another.
A bad mood can spread contagiously to all whom you come in contact with if it is not nipped in the bud right away. One way of doing this is to take a moment to recognize that each of us has a choice each day in determining how well our day will go. We can choose the negative or the positive. When problems feel overwhelming, you may feel justified to “wallow in your pain,” but remaining in a negative state of mind can further exacerbate the very problem that you are feeling negative about. Choosing to step outside of a bad mood, and making an active choice not to allow it to affect those around you for the rest of your day can seem like an insurmountable challenge.
There are many hadiths that comment about the sort of countenance we should strive to attain in order to become somebody who is considered friendly and well-liked by others. The Prophet once addressed his Companions saying,
Shall I not tell you who among you is most beloved to me and who will be closest to me on the day of Resurrection? He repeated this statement two or three times, and they said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, Those of you who are best in attitude and character. (Ahmad) Some other versions of this hadith add: Those who are down to earth and humble, who get along with others and with whom others feel comfortable.
Managing a bad mood is an important part of establishing and maintaining strong lasting relationships with those around us. Negative moods are often magnified when we focus on our feelings rather than investigating its actual cause or a solution. The more you focus on changing how badly you feel, the more difficult it is to change the feelings. Feelings usually follow, not proceed, thinking and action.
Divert Your Focus
When a negative mood overwhelms you, it can help improve your outlook to find a simple task to engage in. Keep busy with a project that will provide you with tangible results. You may work on a crossword puzzle, tend to your garden, feed your cat, etc. It is best to choose activities that are challenging and require real concentration. Two things will occur: You will find yourself distracted from your problem, and the completion of the project will leave you with a feeling of accomplishment and gratification.
Exercise has a definite psychological benefit. It has shown to be one of the quickest ways to lift a mood. In fact, researchers have spent the last 27 years investigating the link between exercise and mood disorders. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins, a brain chemical which interacts with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain. It has an effect similar to that of drugs like morphine and codeine. After a strenuous workout, endorphins are what give a feeling of euphoria, minimizing feelings of pain and stress.
Find time to perform a regular exercise routine so as to maintain your balance. Take a simple walk or jog around the block, or on a treadmill. Or challenge your mind and body with yoga. Its deep, languid stretches, and deep breathing can energize, de-stress, and leave you with a wonderful feeling of strength and peace.
Find Time to be Alone
Sometimes the best way to end an escalating bad day is to separate yourself from any negative influences that could be feeding your bad mood. This time to yourself can allow you to calm down, recollect, and refresh your mind and emotions. Once this occurs, it is easier to change your attitude. Take a walk, read the Quran, listen to a motivating Islamic tape or CD. Solitude can give you uninterrupted time to think things over gradually allowing you to reconnect with others, with positivity.
Give in Charity
In the throes of your bad mood, you may tend to think that it’s all about you. Problems can seem so overwhelming that it can be difficult to recognize that there are others around us in a constant state of crisis and struggle. Giving can be a way of introducing a strong dose of reality to the situation. The emotional chaos that accompanies a disagreeable mood can make our troubles seem much larger than they really are. When you are able to contribute to an individual or a cause where serious problems exist, it can help you temper a bad mood. Roll up your sleeves and get involved: Volunteer at a soup kitchen, or visit with the sick and elderly within our community. This is a characteristic of the teachings of Islam. We are instructed to be generous and give freely to those in need,
…Whatever of good you give benefits your own souls, and you shall only do so seeking the ‘Face’ of Allah. Whatever good you give, shall be rendered back to you, and you shall not be dealt with unjustly. [Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:272]
As with exercise, medical studies show that laughter has been shown to produce the “mood lifting” endorphin hormones. How do you go from down in the dumps to laughter? There may be a bit of work involved in the beginning, but the results are sure to yield a more cheerful disposition. Smiles are as contagious as bad moods. Think about the things that make you smile. Look at old photo albums, or call up that good friend who always leaves you near tears with his/her unique sense of humor. Get together with family or a few friends for dinner and just laugh. When we laugh, we force our minds to switch modes from feeling down to feeling up. Smiling and laughing with others can leave us with a positive attitude feeling absolutely inspired.
Everyone experiences bad moods. Even so, there are so many ways to manage the situation successfully. A bad mood does not have to equal a bad day. We can recognize what is taking place, and take the necessary steps to stop it and turn it around. We can choose to have a wonderful day despite an unfortunate upset. Having a good attitude toward others is an essential characteristic of Islam. The decision to have a good attitude and mood is one of the best choices we can make.