How to Change Your Mood When You’re Feeling Low

March 29, 2021

you are not your anxiety by dr. carly crewe

free! 3 natural strategies to improve your mood

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I'm Carly - an MD Psychotherapist specializing in women's mental health. I help women feel like themselves again.

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On this week’s episode of Mind Over Motherhood, I am explaining some methods on how to change your mood when you’re feeling low. Read on to learn more about this!


If you struggle with anxiety and mood changes, you may want to download my 3 Natural Ways to Improve Your Mood That May Surprise You! free guide. Download it here!

How To Change Your Mood When You’re Feeling Low

We have all had those days when we can’t seem to shake a low mood or negative vibe. 🙁

It can feel like we’re in a pit and can’t seem to climb out no matter how hard we try.

In this post (and the corresponding podcast episode), I want to explain why this happens and what we can do to get out of it.

Let’s talk about selective filtering.

There’s an important thing we need to know about our brains when it comes to moods and emotions.

When we are experiencing a certain emotion, whether it’s sadness, anger or anxiety, our brain has specific circuits in place to help that emotion continue or increase.

This process is referred to as selective filtering.

So why does selective filtering happen?

Our brains are designed to keep us alive at all costs.

From an evolutionary perspective, it would have helped our ancestors if their brains were on high alert for things that would harm them.

Due to this, our brains have evolved a process to become hyper alert to other things in our environment that we should be aware of.

This system is influenced by the type of emotion we are experiencing at the time.

For example, if our ancestors were feeling afraid at night in their cave, it would have helped them to be alert for other signs of danger (to keep them alive.)

And it doesn’t just happen with negative emotions such as fear. In fact, if our ancestors were feeling positive attraction to someone else in their group, it would be good for survival for those feelings of affection and love to increase, so as to help our ancestors procreate and survive.

Selective filtering helped us then, but doesn’t help so much now.

The unfortunate thing is that this primitive survival mechanism doesn’t necessarily help us today.

What it does is ensure that when we are in a low or bad mood, we stay in it.

When we are in a low mood or negative mood, our brain becomes hyper-sensitized to find other things in our environment or experience that will reinforce that emotional state.

It’s almost as if our emotions love each other.

Due to our brain’s selective filtering process, our emotions are self-perpetuating!

Introducing: Your Mood Helme To Change Your Moodt

To simplify this concept, I often refer to it as your Mood Helmet.

Imagine that when you’re in a certain mood, it is as if you are putting on a helmet over your head.

While you’re wearing that helmet, you are only able to see or detect things that reinforce the current mood you’re in.

So if you’re in a negative mood, your mood helmet filters out everything that is positive.

What results is that you end up only seeing things that are negative or bad in your life. 

In a bad mood –> Brain only sees bad things –> Bad mood continues.

How To Change Your Mood When You’re Feeling Low

We have to take off the Mood Helmet.

In order to overcome the mood helmet and change your mood when you’re feeling low, we have to intentionally “remove the mood helmet.”

When we’re wearing a certain type of “mood helmet”, our brain is not seeing everything it our reality.

It is only seeing the things that will recreate or reinforce our mood.

Therefore, we have to be intentional about actively showing our brain things that are opposite to the mood we’re currently experiencing.

How do you take off the mood helmet, and change your mood when you’re feeling low?

Here are some of my favourite ways to show your brain positive things and change your mood when you’re feeling low:
  • Do an action that is opposite to the emotion you’re experiencing (for example, getting outside into nature, feeling the sun on your face, getting exercise all serve to be opposite actions to a low mood.)
  • Write down a list of things you’re grateful for. This is usually not something we feel like doing when we are in a bad mood, but what it does is intentionally show your brain all of the GOOD things in your life right now. By doing this, we show the brain the things that the mood helmet isn’t letting it see. 
  • Realize you’re wearing a mood helmet and intentionally look for the opposite. Find a silver lining in a negative experience if possible. 

Change Your Mood When You’re Feeling Low Using IMPROVE

Dialectical behavioural therapy offers a great acronym to use when we’re trying to shift to a more positive mood or perspective.

You can use the IMPROVE skill (or parts of it) whenever you need to change your mood when you’re feeling low.

I – Imagery

Use imagery to look at things in a different way. Practice imaginging you feel better, imagine the situation in your life is different. Use your imagination to let go of whatever you have been focused on that’s generating a low mood.

M – Meaning

See if you can find meaning in the situation you’re in that’s generating a low mood.

If you have a big problem, can you find a silver lining in it? Can you see it as an opportunity for growth or learning?

P – Prayer

If it is aligned with your spirituality, turn to prayer for support and to shift your vibe. Sometimes leaning on a power greater than yourself, feeling into your faith or the belief that there is a plan can help you see things more positively.

R – Rest

Sometimes when we are in a bad mood, it can be that we are overworking and in need of rest. I know I can certainly turn my mood around with a nap sometimes.

If you’re stuck in a low mood, can you take a rest or get some time to relax?

O- One Thing At A Time

Are you feeling low vibe or in a bad mood because you’re focusing on too many things at one time? Are you struggling with overwhelm or sadness because you’re seeing how far you have to go before you reach your goal?
Help change your mood when you’re feeling low by focusing on one thing at a time. All problems do not need to be solved right now.

Furthermore, can you take your mind out of the future or the past and focus on this moment as it’s happening? So much of our bad moods can be due to us being stuck in the future or past.

V- Vacation

Who couldn’t use a vacation these days?

While I think we’d all love to head to the beach when we’re feeling low vibe, that’s not always possible.

Instead, take a “vacation” from what you’re thinking about or feeling down about. It’s OK to distract yourself a bit in healthy ways and not give all of your energy and attention to whatever is making you feel down.

E- Encouragement

Use positive self talk and encourage yourself. Remind yourself of how far you have come and how strong you are.

How To Change Your Mood When You’re Feeling Low

Using the concept of The Mood Helmet and showing your brain things it can’t see is a useful way to help shift your mood. 

Using the IMPROVE skills can also help lift your mood when you’re struggling to get a new perspective. 

What strategies do you use to get yourself out of a bad mood?


This episode digs into:


  • Why our brains are wired to reinforce our bad moods 
  • How to shift your mood when you’re feeling low
  • A helpful collection of skills to help you shift your perspective and see things more positively

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