bad mood
Mind-wandering towards negative emotions may be linked to depressive disorders, especially if it happens regularly. Image Credit: Pexels/Liza Summer

Have you ever ruminated yourself into a bad mood?

Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we ‘absorb’ a quick lesson about shaking off the negativity.

When you’re in a bad mood, it can alter your interpretation of events going on around you. According to a 2023 study published in the Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, it turns out that mind-wandering towards negative emotions may be linked to depressive disorders, especially if it happens regularly.

For instance, when you’re bored, your mind can think about good thoughts or unpleasant ones. People who are prone to depression often go to an unhappy place in their mind – their thoughts become ‘sticky’ (they’re hard to shake off), occur frequently, often focus on the past and highlight what the person has done wrong. Called rumination, this kind of thinking can cause further stress, anxiety and depression.

But there’s a way you can snap out of a bad mood – within just 10 minutes. The 2023 study involved an experiment where they divided a 82 undergraduate students into two – a positive and a negative intervention group. The first group was given the task of ‘positive fantasising’ and were asked to extract one ‘positive life rule’ and fantasise about the experience in a dream-like state for about 10 minutes.

The negative intervention group was given a highly stressful experience – they had to give a five-minute public presentation in front of a judge whose expression remained neutral throughout the speech. The researchers found that people who were susceptible to worrying engaged in more off-task thinking, following their stressful experience, while those who went through positive mood induction – even individuals who considered themselves as neurotic and worriers – had fewer off-task thoughts.

What this means, is that it just takes 10 minutes of daydreaming about something good that’s happened to you, to create more positive thoughts about yourself and the future.

So, the next time you feel yourself getting sucked into a bad mood, take a breath and let your mind wander to positive experiences. The experience doesn’t even have to be perfect. For instance, your mind could wander towards the idea that you were so terrible at the presentation that everyone now thinks less of you – but you could instead imagine making mistakes and visualising people who didn’t mind or even notice them. You could flip it around to a positive life rule – that people will accept you along with your flaws.

Imagine better times, better scenarios and better futures, to turn your bad mood into greater self-acceptance and happiness.

What do you think of this study? Play today’s Spell It and tell us at