In-the-Moment Mood Makeovers

These little tools will keep you calm and boost self-confidence when you feel overwhelmed.

mood makeovers

Photo by: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Stress “isn’t the bad things that happen to you or what you have on your plate—those are facts of life,” says Alex Lickerman, MD, an expert in mind-body health and author of The Undefeated Mind. “What it really comes down to is, how equipped are you to handle them?” These three mini-makeovers will arm you with the coping tactics you need to outsmart stress and quiet negative thoughts in specific situations. With these targeted tools in your back pocket, you can snap yourself out of the stress response, so that one little misstep or unfortunate event doesn’t derail your entire day.


Let go of anger or disappointment Let’s say your boss gives you an impossible assignment at work, or you have to play nice with someone who grates on your nerves. Use “smile therapy”—because grinning and bearing it really works. One study found that people who smiled as they did difficult tasks (such as drawing with their non-dominant hand) had lower heart rates than people who kept a neutral expression.

Stop the spiral of worry Here’s the trick: Talk to yourself. Research shows that repetition can help you calm down and keep your mind from running wild, says Lissa Rankin, MD, author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. So when you’re overwhelmed, repeat a word, sound or phrase (like “everything is fine” or “relax”) to yourself or out loud for at least 10 seconds. And if you still don’t believe it? Consult your history—that is, think back and find a time when you tackled a task that was just as daunting, or survived a day just as busy. (So you can realistically say: “I’ve done it before. I can do it again.”)

Boost your confidence When nerves or self-doubt creep in, it helps to do something called rehearsal imagery. To put it plainly, you’re simply walking yourself through what you’re about to do and visualizing your best-case scenario. So if you have to give a speech? Duck into a bathroom stall, close your eyes and picture yourself delivering it flawlessly, followed by lots of applause and compliments. You can also rehearse difficult conversations—imagining yourself being able to think on the spot and stand your ground will relieve your anxiety now, and give you a “been there, done that” sense of self-assurance when it’s go time.



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