You know those days when you’re in a really awful mood? Like maybe you have to DO ALL THE THINGS and you’ve stopped taking valium for the muscle spasms in your neck and back and so maybe you didn’t get any sleep because you were spasming all over the place? And how you have a truly terrifying day job, the kind of job that makes you say “I am too old for this shit” every goddamn day of your life, even though you aren’t yet 27? And how then you get your period a day early and have to go in to the office to be yelled at, probably? Also it’s cold outside and you get angry at your pancakes because the syrup won’t stay on them properly and you very briefly consider murdering everyone in the diner, or at least throwing a cup of coffee and screaming obscenities before flouncing away?
This is how to fix that.
- First, absolutely, positively, DO NOT LOOK FOR REASONS TO BE ANGRY. For me, that means one thing: Ignore you work email. It will contain words like “strangled” and then I’ll be all, I’ll show you motherfucking strangled. The problem here is that you’re already stressed but you can’t figure out why, so you’re looking for things to get additionally stressed about. Do not do this! This is a pit with slippery sides that you cannot climb out of! (Also, don’t read any of the comments on any internet articles. Same theory applies, except also people are assholes.)
- Next, calm the fuck down. Have you ever sat down and stared at the blades of ceiling fan? It’s very meditative and I highly recommend it, but however you want to slow your roll is fine.
- Put your shit in perspective and then make a plan. Are you overtired? Plan to go to bed early. Do you hurt? Take some medicine, whatever that consists of, and remind yourself that every day, whatever hurts is going to hurt a little less. Are you sad and lonely? Reach out to someone. Figure out what your problems are with your day, exactly–because it sure as hell isn’t just that it’s cold out–and how you can fix them. Be motherfucking proactive. It’s your life; how do you want to spend it?
- Next, and this is very important, do not take your shitty mood out on anyone else. You are not the Moody Manticore out to destroy all happiness on Happy Island. Everyone else is just a swan singing their happy songs, and do you really want to shit all over a bunch of swans? No you do not. Every day, decent people make an effort to get along with other decent people despite what’s going on under their skins and in their hearts, because we live in a society. It’s very hard, but make the effort. Fake being polite if you have to. Or just limit being around people if you’re so rageful that you can’t walk down the street without knocking someone’s hat off. We all have bad days and if you can’t take to the sea, we will understand if you excuse yourself.
- Get tired. Can you get out and physically exhaust yourself? I can’t because my body is broken, but if you can, you should. As Elle Woods so famously reminded us, “Exercise produces endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.” Don’t kill your imaginary-slash-real husband!
- Now you need to cheer yourself up, and you know what’s great for that? Karaoke. I don’t mean going to a bar and singing in front of strangers, I mean go to youtube, look up the karaoke version of a song you know and love, and SING THE FUCK OUT OF IT. Personally I like “Hey ya” and “Part of your world” but today I was also having Special Feelings so I also did a couple renditions of “Stay” by Lisa Loeb. It totally doesn’t matter if you’re an awesome singer, it just matters that you’re doing something semi-goofy and making yourself happy.
- Okay, time to put something nice out into the world now. You’ve been glowering at it all day and I don’t know if you’ve noticed? But if you snarl at the world, the world snarls back. Give three people genuine compliments. Maybe they are strangers, maybe they are not, but you might make someone ELSE’S day. Doing nice things for other people always feels good, and feeling good is (kind of selfishly) your MO here.
- Feeling kind of better now? Keep it up. Be sure to eat something healthy that you also really like. I ate pancakes and they made me cranky, so now I’m going to eat a spinach-mixed greens salad with baby tomatoes and it will make me feel so much better. Drink lots of water, too. No coffee if you can manage it; coffee makes you jittery which, if you’re already in a cranky mood, your brain may interpret as anxiety. Avoid that shit.
- Listen to happy music. Yesterday I made a Spice Girls station on Pandora and it’s the best thing in life. It’s impossible to be cross when TLC is playing. I’m just saying.
- Take a really motherfucking hot shower and put on something you love wearing, even if you’re just going to be sitting around doing nothing. Evening gown? Fine! Lingerie underneath yoga pants! Great! Sequin leggings? CAN WE BE BEST FRIENDS?
- Drink a glass of wine, if wine works for you-slash-if you drink. If not, Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper is always a good substitute because A) it’s fizzy, and B) it’s delicious, but if you prefer juice or mineral water or motor oil (DON’T DO THAT ACTUALLY) then okay too.
- Go to sleep snuggled under nice, warm blankets with a good attitude. You should be thinking “Tomorrow will be better” rather than “I wonder what electrical outlet I’m going to stick my fingers in in the morning?”
And then there are some general-slash-very specific things not to do:
- DON’T read Baby Be-Bop at 2am, because that story is all about love and being confident that it will come for you eventually. If you’re not confident about that, like I’m not, there will be tears. It will be a set-back.
- DON’T eat junk food or think junk thoughts. Spongebob is on TV somewhere and there are cherries in the fridge.
- DON’T obsess over tiny things that go wrong until they are massive, insurmountable problems. Like if you break a nail, don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Cut them all off to little pink stubs right away. They’ll grow back. Very little in life is permanent.
- DON’T count yourself out or sell yourself short. Ever. We are all fighters, every last one of us. We just have to figure out what we’re fighting for.
And that’s that. The next morning, everything will be comin’ up Milhouse! I know that this works because I was practically biting people yesterday and I ended up having a cry, talking to my friends and then feeling much better. Trust me when I say that my black moods are BLACK, and if this works on me, it’ll work on anyone.
Good luck, happy swans.