Even if you’re characteristically someone with a sunny disposition, a stressful day at work can still make you feel deflated and discouraged. Fortunately, brightening your mood isn’t nearly as hard as it may seem, especially if you try some of the suggestions below.


Appreciate What You Have

When everything seems to be going badly, it’s easy to start feeling sorry for yourself and falling into a trap where you believe things won’t get any better. Maybe you slept through your alarm and that meant you were late for an important client meeting, and later you discovered there was a technical glitch with some crucial files so the latest version wasn’t saved to your hard drive properly. Sure, those obstacles are frustrating, but they’re temporary, and there’s no need to let them overshadow more positive things.

The next time your mood needs a lift, take a minute or two and reflect on a few good things about your life. If things feel really bad, the best you might be able to do is to be thankful that you’re alive, and therefore able to make improvements tomorrow. No matter what, trying to shift your perspective so you feel appreciative rather than purely agonized over all that’s gone wrong usually works wonders for helping you have a brighter outlook.


Look at Old Facebook Posts

In some cases, Facebook or similar social media sites might be the cause of a bad mood. However, taking a moment to use them as a way to reflect about positive events from your past can also help you feel better. That possibility was demonstrated in a small study that took place at the University of Portsmouth.

As it turns out, study participants characteristically logged onto Facebook and revisited old photos or looked at archived status updates as self-soothing measures. Whether it’s the nostalgia kicking in, or just seeing yourself being happy, it’s enough to kick your nasty mood to the curb.



Laughter, even when feigned, can boost your mood and decrease anxiety. Look at funny pictures, watch the latest YouTube video, or tune in to a comedian’s channel. Even thinking of a funny situation can help!


Snack on Cheese

Your quest to feel happier during a bad workday might be as simple as munching on some Parmesan cheese. That type of cheese has as much as 500 milligrams of tryptophan per 100-gram serving. Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s probably most often linked to turkey.

It helps regulate mood and can cause feelings of calmness. If you’re not able to get your hands on some Parmesan (or you’re like me and can’t stand the stuff), go for other hard, pungent types of cheese, because they typically have the highest amino acid content.

Not a cheese fan at all? Try another snack. Having a small, healthy snack mid-day always gives me a boost in energy and mood.


Take a Break

When you start feeling stressed, just walk away. Physically removing yourself from the situation can seriously boost your mood just from getting you away from the situation. For added benefits, try getting outside for a dose of vitamin D and nature’s greenery or engaging in light exercise to work out your frustrations. Even a couple minutes of walking can clear your head and lift your mood.


Listen to a Happy Song

Music may already be one of your go-to helpers when you need to feel uplifted, but now there’s scientific evidence that using songs to make your mood soar might have long-term benefits.

A researcher from the University of Missouri conducted two separate studies and discovered some participants were able to improve their short-term moods by listening to happy music. They also experienced more overall happiness in the following two-week period, provided they took an active role in trying to improve their moods.

The study’s leader also emphasized that for best results, it was important for people to not focus too much on the overall goal of feeling happy, but to instead try and embrace the journey that leads to a happier feeling.

It’s worth noting that participants in the study were instructed to listen to classical music, and they got favorable results when the sounds were upbeat in tone. You might even get better outcomes by tuning in to a song that has very positive lyrics, or one that causes you to think of good times in your life.


Chew Gum

The repetitive action of chewing a piece of gum can be helpful if you’re feeling overly stressed during your bad day. Some people say they tend to feel less anxious when chewing gum, because it tends to have a calming effect. Having a stick of gum within easy reach might also help you avoid other habits that could be destructive, such as snacking on junk food or smoking to try and feel comforted.


Phone a Friend

When you’re feeling swamped by life while at work, you probably don’t have time to engage in a lengthy conversation with a good friend. However, even an encouraging text message or a two-minute pep talk can help you feel empowered and more able to deal with whatever life has thrown your way. Often, it’s just enough to be reminded that you’re not alone in having a bad day, and it will pass. A trustworthy pal can give you those reminders in a gentle and non-intrusive way.

Even if you’re generally satisfied with your job, you’ll still have occasional bad days. The good news is, now you also have healthy and worthwhile ways to deal with them quickly, in the hopes that a few challenges won’t be enough to put your whole day off track.



Bonus: Hang Out with a Pet

My favorite way to tackle a bad mood is to snuggle up with one of my pups. It’s an instant mood booster that just can’t be beat in my opinion.

I mean, seriously; just look at that face!


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

2 Comments on Instant Mood Lifters for a Rough Day at Work

  1. ally
    June 16, 2015 at 6:15 pm (6 years ago)

    This post touched me a lot as my work environment gives me a lot of work bad moods and by the time i cam back home i’m more frustrated and tired. My day always end up like that..

    But, the last advice just made me smile today.. The face of your dog just reminded me of my “Nyagusi” he passed away five years ago.. He was my favorite friend i had.. Really miss him so much.

    I will work on your advice and see what happens.


    • Sarah Landrum
      June 16, 2015 at 6:27 pm (6 years ago)

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Ally. I’m glad Bella was able to make you smile, as she makes me every day.

      I hope the advice helps! Please stay in touch to let me know how it goes 🙂


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