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All About You: Controlling bad moods

All About You by Richard Hawk

EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

Few things can mess up your day more than being in a bad mood. And everybody experiences one now and then. In fact, you’re always experiencing a mood – even when you’re dreaming – so of course you’re going to have a few you don’t like. There are actually many mood types, but the “good” and “bad” descriptions are universal.

Over the years I’ve discovered ways to control (and sometimes get rid of) my bad moods. I don’t always turn them into good moods, but I do quell their effect on my behavior and disposition. I’d like to share with you, my fellow safety and health professionals, what I’ve learned.

Don’t fight it

Have you ever had a hard time sleeping the night before an important event? Of course you have. I used to get furious when that happened to me, which was the worst thing I could have done. Getting angry only added negative energy to the situation and made it impossible for me to get some sleep. The same goes for bad moods: Getting upset because you feel lousy will only make things worse. Acknowledge your bad mood, especially if you have a legitimate reason for it. If something at home is amiss or you’re having problems with a colleague, your bad mood is a natural result.

As safety and health professionals, we regularly deal with complaints and problems. Most moods grow out of an event or situation that involves how you feel about it. So if, for instance, you’re dealing with a lost-time incident or an event that means a ton of paperwork, how you process these events will stimulate a mood. When you notice and accept that you are in a bad mood, you can reduce the power of the emotions behind it. Sometimes, in less-serious situations, it will even cause you to laugh at the silliness of your mood. It also helps to realize that moods are temporary. Often, they only last a few moments.

Physical sources

However, sometimes the source of a bad mood is something physical. Could it be that you …

Aren’t getting enough sleep?
If I were to pick what I believe is the most common root cause to bad moods, it would be sleep deprivation.

Aren’t drinking enough water?
According to two studies conducted at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory, “Even mild dehydration can alter a person’s mood, energy level and ability to think clearly.” Sometimes simply drinking more water may be the ticket to a better mood.

Skipped a meal?
An empty stomach can make you miserable. Research shows that skipping meals (especially breakfast) affects your moods and mental acuity.

Go outside yourself

If you’ve been inside for a while, even a brief walk outside can improve your mood. Sometimes I go outside to listen to the sounds of the birds and cars passing so that I concentrate on something other than myself. Plus, sunlight has been shown to have a positive effect on bad moods.

You can also go “outside yourself” to feel better, no matter where you are. When you are in a bad mood, you tend to think about yourself and your problems. By purposely thinking about something or someone besides yourself, you’ll quickly change your emotions.

So, the next time you are in a bad mood, try this: Replay a special fun moment in your life or picture someone who makes you laugh a lot. It may sound too simple to make a difference, but I guarantee you will feel a change in your mood if you try it.

Think of bad moods as rainy days, and good moods as sunny ones. You need them both, but I’m wishing you many sunny ones!

Richard Hawk helps companies around the world create more vibrant safety cultures by showing them how to make safety fun. As a professional speaker, author and musician, he also inspires employees to focus better and enlightens safety leaders about ways to increase their influence. To learn more about Richard, visit

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