Carolyn Hax Live: 'Cat poster material'

Mar 15, 2019

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax will be online to take your comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

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Hi, everybody, and thanks for stopping by. I will chat as usual this week but next week I'm off again. Kids' spring breaks didn't line up this year. 

Dear Carolyn, My husband and I were recently shocked to find out I was pregnant. I’d undergone IVF for our two children and we never expected to conceive on our own, after being unable to for so long. We already knew we didn’t want more kids, and my husband had already scheduled a vasectomy, so we agreed to terminate the pregnancy. I feel awkward writing about this so I’m sorry if any of it sounds cavalier — we were very sad to be in that situation but felt, and still feel, that this was the right decision for us. The difficulty I’m having now is I confided in a small group of my oldest friends, and while almost everyone was very supportive, one tried to change my mind. She first offered to adopt the baby, and then seemed to back off when I explained why that wouldn’t work, and then she came back again to tell me I was being naive about the emotional repercussions. I told her I felt this was going too far and asked that we not discuss it further, and she apologized. I’m having a hard time moving past this exchange. Sometimes I feel angry that she tried to change my mind over something so personal and painful. And at others I wonder if I was wrong to tell her at all, because I knew she likely wouldn’t agree with it, but I didn’t expect the extent of her reaction or want to put the other friends in the position of keeping a secret from her for me. Do you have any advice for me? Thank you.

This may seem simplistic, but I think it's worth a try:

Accept your anger that she pushed back, but also appreciate that she then backed off and apologized. Combine the two, take it as an emotional wash, use that as grounds to move on.

And: Don't beat yourself up over your decision to tell. You had your reasons at the time you made the choice, so, take them as valid on their face. That you got a reaction you didn't (fully) anticipate does not mean it was the wrong choice, just a choice that brought extra emotional work. Okay. That work is in progress now (see paragraph above) and you'll see soon enough what it brings you. 

When there's an opportunity to remain at the surface on a difficult issue--because everything that matters is right there for you--I say grab it.

I'm dating someone who loves to be with a group, all the time. I'm someone in the middle who loves the group, loves some quiet time, and loves doing things with my partner without the group. Whenever we are together and someone else calls us to go out, he is ready to go and in fact says it's his preference for us to be with the group rather than alone every single time. He says he loves me and chalks this up to him being an extrovert, but I'm starting to think (and feel) that he doesn't know how to nurture a relationship-but it's definitely showing up as an incompatibility. I don't want to throw in the towel just yet but I'm heading there. But do extroverts in relationships prefer a 'couple' in groups? I thought every personality type would love some alone time with their partner once in a while, but maybe that's a personality preference? I would love your insight on this one.

Actually, I think insight is more work than you need to do. This relationship isn't giving you what you need, even after your good faith effort to ask for it, so he's not the guy. It sounds as if you'd make really good go-out-and-do-stuff friends.

Fiance plans annual ski trip for my kids (23, 17), his son (13), & his extended family. Last morning of trip he discovered his son had dumped the contents of his backpack & broke his laptop. Son didn't help clean-up & Fiance blew up. My son was asleep in another room & Fiance screamed at him, scaring him as he woke him up. Next few days were filled with "I'm leaving" "you suck as a mother" comments. He agreed to read an anger book with me but bailed after 2 chapters. I'm seeing a counselor. My daughter is seeing a counselor. Fiance says he is too. Fast forward 5 weeks and daughter is distant (no phone calls or visits, sparse texting), Fiance never apologized (said he doesn't care what my kids think), and he just visited his son & bought him a new bike. His son never had a consequence for the backpack dumping/laptop breaking scene. We own a home together. I don't want to move my son before he graduates hs in 2020. My kid's dad is deceased. No local family on my side. I've never felt hopeless before. My level of sadness is scaring me.

Please call your therapist right away to say, "My level of sadness is scaring me." If you feel you might harm yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or 911 if the impulse is immediate.

Please also call RAINN (1-800-656-HOPE) to get started on an exit plan, one that accounts for your emotional and financial entanglements and the absence of a local support network.

Your desire to stay put on your son's behalf is a normal one, and selfless, but there is a point where that becomes too costly for one or both of you--and it sounds as if you are there. Also, staying in this toxic home isn't your only option for his seeing out his education. That's part of what the call to RAINN is for, to set you up sustainably and safely in a home your fiance does not also occupy. Consult with an attorney, too, to make sure you preserve your rights and investments in the process, or at least don't throw any way out of ignorance.

You don't mention any physical abuse or ongoing outbursts since the trip, but I urge you to err on the side of caution. Treat his anger as potentially out of control and your steps toward leaving him as possible triggers.

Something else to consider: We've talked a lot about this from the other side, where people have opened their homes to their children's friends to give them a stable home as the friend's household goes through some kind of danger or upheaval. Does your son have such a friend, who could give him safe harbor as you take care of your health and the logistics of creating a stable new home for you both?

I don't mean to overwhelm you with information. If it's too much, then please skip back to the first two grafs: Call for your health, then, as needed, call for your safety. Take care. And please check back in, if you think to.

I woke up in a terrible mood this morning, for no reason that I can think of. What are your best tips to snap yourself out of a funk?

Isn't it weird? I just had one of those days last week.

Weird when there's no obvious reason, I mean. Being crabby for cause is about at normal as it gets.

Anyway. I'll throw this out for crowdsourcing because the snap-out-of-it ideas could be useful and entertaining.

I'll start with mine, though they're pretty pedestrian: I warn the people closest to me that I'm an angry wreck. This at least lets them know it's not personal if I fail at containment, and at best it gives them a chance to help me out of the pit. 

I also try to find ways to laugh. Favorite people whenever possible, but also favorite clips or shows or movies when I need laughs on-demand. It is physically such a release, and gets you out of your head.

I do yoga, even if all I can manage is a 10-minute break. I go to YouTube and pick a workout like, "Yoga for not punching people at random." This is new for me, but it's quickly becoming a go-to.

When possible, I do something nice for someone. Of course that's technically always "possible," but if I'm so radioactive that it's not wise for me to put myself near anyone, I rule out this step. Though I have on occasion donated money under these circumstances. Even 10 or 25 bucks toward some decency-oriented cause feels like a cosmic correction and can be quite satisfying.

And ... there was one more and I forgot it ... anyway. It'll come to me. At 3 am.

No wait! Pets. I spend time with my dogs. If I'm not home, then cute animal videos really help. Don't judge me.

Hope you feel better soon.

Hi Carolyn, do you have any good tips for emotionally surviving the relocation of a recent ex and his new girlfriend to my urban neighborhood? They live only a few blocks away and it looks like I'll be running into them a lot (especially if they like to go to the same places on weekends that he and I used to go to), and I'm sure it'll be easier for me down the line but right now it hurts and is driving me to hermitage.

He's an ex for a reason, probably a really good one, even if that reason is just that he didn't love you as much as you loved him. That's the suckiest of all reasons, obviously. But when the payoff of putting up with another entity in your life and all of his needs and quirks and inefficient ways of loading the dishwasher and entitlements to pick the movie/restaurant/show occasionally--a pox on everyone who craves sushi the same night I crave a burrito, and watches shows with commercials aaaaa!--is to immerse yourself in your full acceptance by another person, and to make a gift of your full acceptance of another.

So, condensed, it's either full acceptance in the form of your own company in your single-ness, or full acceptance in the form of a healthy, mutual, committed relationship with a person who really fits you.

Which brings me to your neighborhood. 

Take your full self-acceptance out for a walk in your neighborhood at your first opportunity. Then do it again. And again. And again. Until it is not special anymore. Run into your ex and his current, let it hurt, then go home and regroup and get out there again, until it is not special anymore. 

The only cat poster material I can currently bear is: "The only way out is through." So true.

 

I'm newly pregnant with my third child. We have a boy and a girl already, but had always planned for three kids. And the comments! It seems like no one is happy for us. I've heard everything from being blamed for global warming, to wondering why we'd do this to ourselves, we've already got the "perfect" family etc. I guess I never realized that three kids warranted a large family, or that people would be actively against it. So far, I've just smiled uncomfortably when people comment, but any advice for "friends" and family who give unsolicited comments on the size/makeup of my family? I guess I'm just disappointed that more people can't just be happy for us.

Congratulations!

There. I'm sorry others have made things more difficult for themselves and for you by trying to come up with more elaborate answers. The simple beauty of the dull answer is due for some renewed appreciation. 

If it makes you feel any better, it's likely not personal. We seem to be at a cultural moment of having big opinions on every damn thing and no real interest in thinking before we express them. It's not our best look. 

In fact, I can't believe you'd want bring another child into that environment.

Haha. Kidding. 

Congratulations again, and don't be shy about reserving the bulk of your time for the people you feel good among. There's also nothing wrong with responding as if people actually said something polite. "Thanks! We're so excited."

Exercise. Even if it's freezing out, I'll bundle up and get out and do a walk. (yes, it takes a self-kick in the rear to get going.) I nearly always feel better after some sort of exercise that gets your blood moving. I actually go to a gym 3 times a week, even when I'm tired and grumpy, and I always feel better afterwards. and, there is always chocolate.

Wear some clothes that you just love. One morning I was crabby and tired and didn't want to go to school, and my mom said, "Why don't you put on your favorite outfit?" I did, and lo and behold, I felt a lot better.

That's so my mom, too. Thanks.

My wife has always been fearful of going out to large gatherings in public, and with the recent mass-shooting events, is starting to justify things like not going to church or to, say, the mall. While trying to be supportive and non-judgemental, I'm having a hard time trying to soothe her and get her to go out into the world and be a part of community. It's also a sticking point -- I don't want our kids paralyzed in fear thinking it's OK to just keep themselves insulated and isolated from the world that is out there, no matter how bad (or good) things are. Not sure what else I can do if she doesn't see anything wrong with this -- since bringing up talking to a therapist or professional is something she has resisted because in her mind (at least what I have been able to gather) is that if she does that, it validates that her position and action (or lack thereof) on this is wrong. So, what to do...

It's not right vs. wrong, it's healthy vs. unhealthy. And maybe that's too fine a distinction to help her feel any better, but your wife's behavior looks to this layman like an anxiety disorder, long on the scene but lately aggravated to a problem level. Fear that is not justified by facts is controlling her choices.

You are nowhere near the "Not sure what else I can do" point here, because you are an equal co-parent and you cannot stand by while your wife limits your children's lives at the eventual risk of stunting them.

Please say you suspect this is about anxiety. Ask her to get screened for it, with the goal of treatment to help her feel better. Say you are not judging her or criticizing her, you are concerned about her. That the news is terrible but that the risk of any one person being hurt in a crowd is still so small as to me almost negligible. (Not that this will persuade her--just to state your position.)

If she refuses, then you need to be the one who sees a good family therapist. 

Because her actions are mental-health-related at this point and they're unhealthy for your kids--and your marriage. That means it's time for the professional help you're able to get and work up from there.

I got my kids a book called "Grumpy Monkey" for Christmas. Monkey wakes up grumpy (though he denies it), every other animal in the jungle tried to perk him up, it just makes him grumpier. The thing that finally works is just accepting that he feels grumpy and sitting by himself for a while. So that's my suggestion: accept that today is a grumpy day, and wait for it to pass.

My Christmas present from my mother was a calendar filled with dozens of pre-planned family events throughout the year. I didn’t notice that at first, just saw that she had marked off New Year’s Day brunch and said it was great and I loved it. Later I noticed that there are several events every month, ranging from a St. Patrick’s Day dinner, to a week at the shore, to game night twice a month. Every holiday, birthday, or anniversary is pre-planned. I’m 30 and she’s never done this before. It could be a reaction to recent events, one terrible – my father dying 2 years ago and one great - me getting married last year. She said she want to be sure she gets “her fair share” of our time. She even expects us to spend our anniversary having dinner at her house since, to use her words, “it’s in the calendar". We are both very busy and have naturally missed a few of these events. This is not going over well since she keeps insisting that we accepted her “invitations”. Yesterday I got a several paragraph text from her saying she made the calendar for a reason and we “agreed” to those events by accepting it, and that we are letting her down by not attending. There are four this month alone including my birthday. Usually I spend my birthday hiking and then meet my girlfriend (now wife) for a quiet dinner. This year she has planned a twenty-person brunch at her house. My mother is not a lonely widow, she has 2 cats and a dog, 2 sisters she sees every day, nieces and nephews, she still works and has lots of friends so I can’t understand what’s behind this and she won’t discuss it. I’m her only child and I want to make her happy but this is too much. Isn’t it?

It is.

It sounds as if you have done a good job not giving in to her emotional blackmail.

That what it is, no matter how sweet the original intent might have been of her keeping you two close through so many big life changes. (Fits the anxiety theme, actually, as so many control attempts do.)

At the beginning of each month, or earlier if you know already, tell her which events you will and will not make. Attend accordingly. Do not explain. Respond to any threat-texts with, "I'm happy to attend what I can, and give you as much notice as possible." Ignore the emotional implications and the notion of "agreed," since that's a rabbit hole. 

In other words, treat the calendar as what you would like it to be--a menu of opportunities to spend time with Mom--and not the binding schedule your mom wants it to be.

If she presses,hold your line: "I'm happy to attend what I can, and give you as much notice as possible."

BTW, there is no "fair share" of someone else's time. You have yours, she has hers, and any you give to each other is an act of free will--and more beautiful and loving for it. I'm sorry she doesn't trust you/herself enough to see that.

 

Hello, I have a friend whom I'm becoming more close to as we decided to spend more time together. For the most part, it's wonderful. But I have learned that my friend has several misinformed opinions and views. Some of them bother me quite a bit. I don't want to discuss these opinions/views, but I want to know how to handle a situation when we're out for coffee and I hear something that (to me) sounds insensitive and clueless. I don't like confrontations and I don't want to ghost her. I just don't know what to do.

Short answer: Learn to converse! Really. You can't become close unless you are willing to get into the deeper beliefs you hold, and your rationales for them. And the only choices aren't the two extremes of "confront" or "run." In fact, treating those as the only two options can lead to the kind of talk-only-to-people-I-agree-with polarity that's messing up our politics and government right now.

There are ways to do this within the framework of respect and friendship, including this one:

Friend: [misinformed view.]

You: "Hm. That's not my understanding of the situation. What are you basing that on?"

Friend: [either information of dubious sourcing, or well-sourced information you did not know about until friend provided it.]

You: Calmly, kindly respond appropriately. Either point out the unreliability of the source, or humbly acknowledge you hadn't heard that information before and are glad for an opportunity to look into it.

If things get heated, even on the friend's side only, then you might decide this friendship is a nonstarter, and that's okay--not everyone is meant to be a friend. Feelings count. But if you can say, "I'd rather not discuss this in anger--maybe let's save it for another time?" or, "I'm not comfortable with where this is going. May I change the subject?" then you might be able to agree to disagree with enough affection to remain friends. The essential ingredient is to believe your friend (or any holder of an opinion you find problematic) is a fundamentally well-meaning person who merely has different views acquired through different experiences filtered through different senses. We'd all benefit from working that muscle more, IMO. And when the person makes plain that s/he is not well-meaning, then there you are.

There was a fascinating story recently on an upstate New York town that coexists peacefully through divisive differences--ring a bell for anyone? I tried to find it to post a link, but I don't want to delay any longer. 

 

I too dated a guy years back who preferred being in a group constantly. I'm an introvert and require some alone time and while a group is fun occasionally, it's just not what I wanted all the time. Sooo, I ended things as amicably as possible and that was that. The next guy I dated I'm now married to, for 21 years :)

Aaaah! Spoilers!

You win.

My husband is overweight. Fine. I still find him attractive and have no issue with his weight other than whether he is healthy or not. My problem is with his attitude towards his weight. He doesn't like being heavy. Fine. He wants to lose weight. Fine. He says he needs to find ways to work out. Fine. He says those ways NEED to include me or he won't be successful, that he won't do it. He needs someone to work out with or he won't feel inclined to do it. Can you see where this is going? I am not overweight, though I could certainly be in better shape, so I have offered to join a gym with him in order to jump start our move to better conditioning and health. He doesn't like gyms; they're too expensive. I offer to go on walks around the neighborhood. His knee hurts. I suggest he go for a bike ride but there's always some reason he can't. I've tried to offer support and encouragement but at some point he needs to take responsibility for his own weight loss. Aside from this he also has an eating issue. I don't monitor what he eats, he's a grown man and can handle himself, but I have noticed that food mysteriously goes missing overnight and I can only assume it has been consumed by my husband. Or we have an unseen houseguest taking care of our leftovers, snacks, and cereal for us. What can I do here? If he wants to lose weight I support him 100%. If he's fine at his current weight and is in otherwise good health I support him 100%. It's clear though he's unhappy with his situation but also doesn't want to do much about it. I'm at a loss. I've talked to him about it but we end up talking in circles. It always gets put back on me that he can't lose weight because I won't work out with him and so I don't engage when he talks about it anymore. What do I do?

I might have given this a longer answer at the beginning of the chat, but now it's just: boundaries. Your husband doesn't have good ones and he needs them. 

Repeat after me: You are not responsible for his self-care. 

Avoid buying calorie-dense or empty-calorie foods when it's your turn to shop, and keep choosing to exercise in your own ways and inviting him to join you, but otherwise this is on him.

You can, however, encourage him to go to therapy. The boundaries alone are worth a treatment course with someone reputable, but the secret eating also says there's some pain-relief behavior. That in turn points to pain, which he is currently choosing to feed instead of identify and address.

That's the source of the say-but-not-do stuff, too--and it's okay to tell him that's what concerns you, not his weight. Good luck.

 

Dear Carolyn, I have three kids, ages 6, 4, and 2. My sister has one daughter, Olivia, aged 5 and in Kindergarten. My sister quit her job when she was pregnant with Olivia and dedicated herself completely to being a mother. My sister is a wonderful mother. Prior to kindergarten, Olivia had limited contact with other kids, mostly when she was around my kids. Throughout Olivia’s toddlerhood, my sister constantly said how Olivia was introverted and shy, just like her. She frequently asked that my kids act less physical around her and essentially expected the whole family to meet Olivia where she was. Olivia was never expected to get out of her comfort zone at all. Olivia is by nature, and probably due to my sister’s parenting, a well mannered, polite, and charming little girl. However, Olivia is struggling a lot in Kindergarten getting along with other kids her age. Olivia can be inflexible and quick to tattle on other kids. My sister handles this by essentially freaking out at the school, the teacher, and the other parents. Last week she told me that I couldn’t understand because “your kids are wild just like the kids in Olivia’s classroom.” My kids are not wild, and neither are the kids in Olivia’s classroom. They are normal little kids behaving in age appropriate ways. I’m starting to genuinely worry about Olivia because I feel my sister has given her this little Princess identity that will not serve her well in the long run. My kids are in the same school as Olivia and my sister has made reputation for herself as being a very difficult parent. I am torn if I want to discuss this with my sister or not. Part of me feel like it’s her child and her business, another part of me aches for Olivia. My sister is extremely sensitive, so I will have to handle this carefully. What do you think?

"My sister is extremely sensitive, so I will have to handle this carefully. "

I think your sister is raising Olivia exactly as she was raised, no? That's the nurture answer.

Or, if you're a nature believer, Olivia is your sister all over again, sensitivities and all.

Either way, you can make sure you don't repeat your role in this new generation by letting the school take care of the sister and Olivia problem and stay waaaaay out of it yourselves.

I don't think I would have held back here, though: "Or, Sis, my kids are typical kids, just as the kids in Olivia's classroom are. And just as Olivia is. Either way--I don't think it's useful to treat them all as any one thing. They're kids, individuals all. Olivia too."

I live in Wisconsin. It used to be February. February in Wisconsin is awful for everyone; we are all cold, sad, and crabby. We bunker down. We try to get through it without harming people we love or making any irreversible major decisions. And in March, if the sun happens to come out, we experience shame, apologize to everyone, and then pretend nothing ever happened.

Can't argue with that, thanks.

Okay, that's it for today, though as time permits I'll check for more comments to post.

Thanks all and see you in two weeks.

Exercise is great, as other posters have noted, especially exercise that involves fresh air. But I’ve discovered that a little mental stimulation can help, too. I keep crossword and sudoku books on my coffee table and, if I’m feeling grumpy or depressed (or sometimes just unmotivated), will sit down and work on one of those. No matter how grumpy my brain is, it usually cannot resist the temptation of a good puzzle. Half hour or an hour later, I nearly always feel much better. (One caveat, though: pick puzzles of moderate difficulty; if it’s too tough, it can just make you frustrated, which probably won’t do much for the grumps.)

First off, I warn others. Then...I WALLOW in my grumpiness. All those little things that drive me crazy get the brunt of my grumps. (Emotionally and in my mind--nothing physical). Just enjoy the opportunity to be grumpy. (Even if you don't know why, it's still a legitimate emotion that deserves to be accepted and owned.)

Carolyn, I understand your advice here, but if the mom is already sending giant text messages about this, isn't proceeding as you suggested likely to result in her working herself up even more?

No--well, maybe, but it's not up to the child to govern Mom's reaction. Child chooses use of time, presents to Mom as a basic fact, and treats it as business as usual, because it is. Mom either adapts and calms down and enjoys Child's company, or has a tantrum into the void of Child's non-reaction. Child then goes to Mom's events or doesn't go as already announced.

As a fellow only child, how about "Hey Mom, can we talk, what's really going on? I'm worried about you." If this is out of Mom's normal and she's got a full active life, I'd at least give one attempt to talk about it. (Note: Not adhere to calendar but to figure out if Mom is ok, because it sounds like she is struggling with something.)

Go make a donation at your local: charity pet shelter teen shelter homeless shelter food bank You'll feel 100% better. Trust me!

I have a Spotify playlist of songs I can't help but song along to. Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and other pop princess girl power anthems. I play those when I wake up in a bad mood and, as planned, I can't help but sing along to them. It is very hard to sing Party In the USA out loud and remain grumpy.

If I've got the news on, it gets turned off or switched over immediately. I have some go-to music to listen to if I'm at work, or go-to movies if I'm at home. Chopping vegetables helps, emphasis on the CHOP! Just watch your fingers. Exercise classes where I can stomp the floor help, so does riding the stationary bicycle like the fiends of hell are after me. And of course, there's always You Tube.

I respond to grumpy "for no reason" days by trying to figure out what set me off. There's always a reason and it's always enlightening. That approach saves me a lot of grumpiness going forward because knowing what upset me shows me what to avoid or how to deal with it next time.

Put on your favorite music, loud and proud!

Google "Hyperbole and a half sneaky hate spiral" and if this doesn't help you feel better, at least you'll be in a bad mood and aspiring to reach sneaky hate spiral level before the day is out. I'll try to attach the link. https://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/05/sneaky-hate-spiral.html?commentPage=2

I get up an hour earlier than I need to. This gives me time to clean the kitchen a little and exercise for a half hour before I begin my day. I always feel so good afterwards. I agree with other LWs, there's always chocolate, and wearing my favorite outfit helps. I just love this time to myself. Getting up every day in a rush is not how I choose to live my life.

When I discover I've gotten out of bed grumpy, I wash my face, brush my teeth, then get back into bed. After that, I tell myself I have a chance to get out of bed not so grumpy. Many times, when I get back out of bed the second time, my grumpy level has gone down several notches.

is my spirit animal.

do something different. so if you have been too sedentary, exercise. but when I am racing and feeling overwhelmed, even if I don't realize it, or have just been really wonderfully productive so why am I feeling crabby....I will intentionally do nothing. Ideally outside, feet on the ground, feeling the sun and breeze and watching the clouds and just letting all that guano drain through my feet.

Yes, but does it help you to be more selective on who you punch?

I'll let you know.

Naps are panaceas for me. If I can’t nap, I avoid people, curl up with a good book and a cat.

I have a list of movies that will bring me out of it. Some are funny, some stupidly funny, some moving so I can cry and get it out of my system, some are creepy and scary.

I have a few books/tv shows that feel like happy old comfy sweaters and when I need something that feels cozy, I take some time to read or Netflix a bit.

Wow, that made me sad. If I was ever in a bad mood, my mom just told me to knock it off/get over it/stop having feelings.

I'm sorry. Are you near your closet, or a good store? Put on your favorite outfit now or buy a new favorite something. If not, it'll be waiting for you when you get there. It's okay. 

For short term, I try to remember - in great detail - something ridiculous that happened to me in the past. Or some other funny memory. For medium term, work. It's a bit like exercise in that you may have to force yourself, but work as hard as you can at your job, or gardening or home improvement, or whatever. The fuzzy satisfied feeling you get afterwards is wonderful.

I make a list of everything that's not bad about my life right now. Doesn't always have to be good, but just not bad. I started doing this my freshman year of college and it really works. I remember my first list included things as, "I took a different route in the chemistry building and saw a new lab room" or "I had pizza for lunch." Then build up to better things. I swear that by the end of the list you'll feel better. Maybe not great, but at least not bad.

Celebrate something, anything. And be sure to take a good shower and get cleaned up - that was always my grandmother’s advice. Sometimes changing the outside changes the inside too.

1) ask yourself if you are upset about something/somebody from yesterday that you didn't resolve. 2) breathe 3) silly easy thing to do in addition to giving $$ to deserving people and cause is with permission, connecting people on LinkedIn especially if one of them is looking for a job.

My 20-year-old daughter is a verbally abusive maniac to me right now (she's been seeing myriad professionals for six months and it's not getting better, and there is a long backstory on her issues)--but sometimes I just have to retreat into my bedroom for a few minutes and smell my cat. I know it sounds weird, but she loves me and she smells like sanity.

For me, if possible, #1 cure for a bad mood is going outside. It's been rainy here for months, so I think the lack of sun and ability to see blue sky has affected my mood. If I can't go outside, I move to #2 bad mood cure: get more sleep. If I find myself in a bad mood and I can't get outside, I assume I'm sleep deprived. Just deciding I'm going to go to sleep earlier that night often helps me get through the day.

I find music helps. I particularly enjoy something that is currently called "American Roots music," which I interpret as "country music that country music radio stations refuse to play." I mean, how can you not love a song called, "Bring Me Weed Instead of Roses"? There's a long tradition of hilarious lyrics in country music, and I'm delighted that someone is keeping it up! But, you know, whatever floats your boat. I second the pet therapy. Stupid dogs being silly and stupid are a great mood lightener! So are my fat cats trying and failing to make the jump to their perches-- so undignified. Anything that will make you laugh!

I usually find that I'm in a funk because keeping all the strings untangled and balls in the air is making me overwhelmed. So I pick a string or a ball to let go of for the day . . . maybe I buy lunch instead of packing thereby blowing both my budget and my diet. Maybe the laundry just doesn't get folded. Maybe the kid and I just order out and go to the park for a picnic. Or I let the kid fall asleep watching TV instead of struggling with bedtime. I just pick one or two self-imposed expectations and let them go. Usually helps a lot to realize most of the pressure on my life is under my own control and therefore within my ability to spoil myself with a break.

I've been out of sorts too! Maybe it's the weather or the time change? My tips: vigorous exercise gets me out of my moody head; sitting down on the floor and petting the dog, who seems surprised and thrilled to have the hooman down on his level; a walk in the woods; making a plan that you are looking forward to, even if it's just having your favorite special takeout pizza and watching a movie you've been wanting to see.

When this happens to me it almost always comes with too much physical energy and a brain gone too nuclear to think where to put it. I also warn those closest, cancel meetings when I can, talk a walk. Call a gripe buddy. Take another walk. Cancel on a useless meeting (always gratifying). Take a third walk. Crank 'Iris' by the GooGoo Dolls but sing Lovecraft poems instead of the usual lyrics. Anything that dumps some of the negative energy enough to reset out of the rage spiral.

It helps me to think about it similar to having a cold or a rainy day--something unpleasant that will pass without need for me to beat myself up about it. And avoid people as much as possible and go to bed early.

Have Cher slap you out of it?

I find a gratitude journal really helps. It particularly helps if you do it every morning - just jot down 3-5 things for which you're grateful They don't have to be different every day. Humans tend to focus on the negative and quickly forget about the positive so 'flexing that muscle' really helps in the long run. I find something as simple as 'the first sip of my morning cup of tea', 'the sounds of the morning doves in the courtyard of my condo - right in the center of DC' really resonates.

This happens to me more than I'd like to admit. Going to a run/walk helps immensely. My bad mood usually stems from being overwhelmed and going outside helps me remember there is a whole world out there and my problems aren't so bad. And exercise helps alleviate some angry energy.

Identify one or two things you're grateful for - roof over your head, ability to pay your bills, good health, people who love you. So many people are so much worse off than we are. Appreciating what I have has always kept me from feeling sorry for myself or staying in a bad mood for long.

CHOCOLATE! But don't waste it on crap chocolate. Get the really good, Belgian kind. You can get them at Trader Joe's right by the registers - three little mood-saving bars for something like $1.99.

First, you can't say for no reason the week of daylight savings time. Changing your sleep routine is a recipe for bad moods. Also according to the research heart attacks and car crashes. Second, I read. Getting absorbed in a story takes you out of your head. Drink a warm beverage while you read like herbal tea or hot coco to sooth you without adding caffeine.

I have plenty of bad days, but my dog has not had a bad day in 13 years. Or if he has, he's never shown it. Rain or shine, hot or cold, long walk or quick trip outside to do his business, it doesn't matter. He greets me everyday as if just spending time together is the greatest thing in the world. It's pretty hard to remain in a funk when I'm hanging out with him. Who would think that a tennis ball could bring such joy? Don't get me wrong, I know that not everybody is a dog person. But for those of us who are there is nothing better to get yourself out of a funk than spending time with a pet.

Related to bad mood funk, if I'm really stressed out and not able to focus, I take two minutes to write (stream of consciousness style) how I'm feeling. Then I read it back and figure out what's really bothering me, and I can see around The Issue to all the other paths that are very easily doable, now that I know where the pothole in the road ahead is.

Told my staff that I took a large dose of F***itol and that entering my office was at their own risk.

You win too.

I look at pictures on my phone and , for example, recall how gigantic the breakfast sandwich was that I got while I was on vacation and how it still amazes me that i was able to eat it all :p And then lunch 2 hours later. Sometimes you just need a reminder of a good laugh you had in the past. If that doesn't do the trick: baby sloth videos on YouTube. Words can't describe...

I was in a terrible mood yesterday! Watching YouTube videos of baby goats in pajamas makes the world right again every time. https://youtu.be/aGeOUF8wlo0

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Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on washingtonpost.com. She lives in New England with her husband and their three boys.
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