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One way to improve your mood and get to work

Sometimes I get really down. I feel like a failure and seeing the work I need to get done just makes me feel worse. I have no energy or motivation to get started. This can be anything from sewing a purse (and I made lots of progress on a beautiful one tonight!) to cleaning a bathroom to…well…it might work if you’re writing, but you might not be able to focus.

Tonight, I was having a hard time getting to the purse. I knew the next step, everything had gone well so far, but I was feeling like a loser and losers can’t make purses (labeling). So I put on a special mix CD I have. (No iPod–I’m such a Luddite πŸ˜› )

I call it “Tristesse” and it’s basically a mix of my favorite depressing songs. It seems counter intuitive, right? But when I put it on I sing along. And the act of singing helps me acknowledge my bad feelings and find the energy to start working. Happier songs just don’t click, it feels too forced.

I sat down at my sewing machine and sang along. Before I knew it, I’d made great strides on the purse. So I followed it up with a Weezer mix CD. Happier but not too happy (my Weezer mix includes such songs as “Butterfly,” “The Sweater Song” and “Pink Triangle” on the more depressing side and “Beverly Hills,” “We are all on drugs,” “Buddy Holly,” and “Falling for You” on the (more) upbeat side).

Now my dark mood has lifted and I’m almost finished the purse. Plus I feel really good about myself for making so much progress.

Takeaway points:

1. Acknowledge your bad mood–if you’re sad do sad songs, if you’re angry do angry songs. Maybe make mixes of your favorites for just this occasion.

2. Then follow it up with something a bit pleasanter.

3. Sing! Engaging the music makes this 90% better than just listening.

Hope this works for you! πŸ™‚

P.S. If you already own the music, then this is really frugal, it costs the price of a CD-R or you can even just use your iTunes or Windows media player for your playlist. Or you can do what I did several years ago–buy the specific songs from iTunes. Or, um, burn friends’ CDs. But you didn’t hear it from me.


Tim R. November 18, 2007 at 10:17 pm

I got through many of my college studio art courses by listening to Lit’s song “Over My Head” from the Titan A.E. soundtrack.

I’m in over my head
They wanna try and build me up
So they can tear me down
I wish that I could be back there
But I’m writing here right now

They’ve taken everything that I’ve had to give and
They say it’s over but man I’m still here livin
I don’t know what to do, I think that maybe

I’m in over my head
Stuck in the red
Somethin they said
Makes me think that I’m in over my head
Over my head
Over my head

Great stuff for when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of a project and the shortness of a deadline.

mrsmicah November 18, 2007 at 10:18 pm

That’s a good one, Tim. πŸ™‚

carrie November 19, 2007 at 12:00 am

YESH! I have these playlists on my ipod….Carrie’s silly songs, Carrie’s angry songs, Carrie’s I hate everything songs….you get the picture…oh there’s also Carrie’s Worship songs and Carrie’s Christian Rock songs just to even it all out πŸ˜‰

Susy November 19, 2007 at 8:42 am

Hey, I’m sewing a purse tonight as well. I’d love to see a photo of yours. Mine’s a felted wool one with decorative stitching.

I’m listening to Christmas classics (like peanuts & the muppets, makes me happy!).

Jay November 19, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Sometimes listening to someone else’s problems and bad news can make you feel not as alone; the pain gets spread out instead of concentrated on just you. Plus the people in the really depressing songs are so much worse off than me that it puts things in perspective and makes whatever I’m worked up about seem not as bad.

Mike November 19, 2007 at 2:13 pm

Music always helps me when I am down, and for that matter drives me when I am happy as well! Even sometimes during a mundane workday, a bit of classical music can wisk the day away πŸ™‚

mrsmicah November 20, 2007 at 11:19 am

I could use some music right now at work, in fact. At least in a few weeks there’ll be lots of cute babies. But today I’m feeling down (sick) and trying to improve my mood + be productive.

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