8 quick cures for crankiness

Beat a bad mood with some feel-good solutions that will work in minutes flat.

By Angela Pirisi

How to cure crankiness: Tips 1-4

Sure, there are days when you'd like to hang a sign on your door that says, "Leave me the heck alone!" But whether you're stewing because of a tight deadline, a bad hair day, raging hormones or a sleepless night, you don't have to spend the day gnashing your teeth and spitting venom at everyone that dares approach. Soothe those prickly feelings in a hurry with some remedies proven by science, and get on with your day in a more positive way. Here are 8 ways to cure your crankiness right now.

1. Listen to your mom
Save favourite voice-mail or answering-machine messages from people you love so you can listen to them anytime -- or simply dial up a friend or family member. The voice of a loved one can quickly dissolve crankiness, explains Robert Gifford, Ph.D., a psychologist in Victoria who studies noise and mood. That's because pleasant sounds can decrease the tension that triggers irritability and distract you from annoyances. On the flip side, unwanted noise raises blood pressure, cortisol (the stress hormone) and, over time, even your risk of cardiovascular disease.

2. Order the suicide-hot wings
Spicy or hot food or drinks (think Thai, Hunan) can raise your body temperature and relax your body. So if you're starting to think that AC is short for Arctic Circle at work, grab some hot ginger tea, wear a wool or fleece top or take a sauna or longer shower at the gym. Exercise will also warm you up (see tip #8 on the next page). Increasing your body temperature can help calm your mood by reducing muscle tension, changing brain wave patterns, inducing hormonal changes and causing vasodilation (relaxation of blood vessels), which increases blood flow to extremities and circulation in general, explains John Raglin, Ph.D., a kinesiology professor at Indiana University who specializes in exercise and mood. And when you're comfortable, you're automatically less cranky -- just ask a dry, fed baby.

3. Get rocking
Ever wonder why Grandma looks so serene in her rocking chair? Rocking yourself is a natural antigrouchiness mechanism, says Witkin. The rhythm allows the brain to relax and your heart rate to slow. If you don't own a rocker (or want to), try this rocking yoga move: Sit on the floor, draw your knees up to your chest, join your hands under your knees and tilt your head forward toward your knees -- now rock forward and roll backward onto your rounded back. Find any calming rhythm to shake your bad mood -- literally -- such as a mantra, humming, rocking or dancing in a swaying fashion. The clincher is that any music you listen to should be slower than your heartbeat -- just think slow, soft rhythms.

4. Take a powder
Sprinkle on some baby powder after your shower to chill your mood before you step out, or choose baby-powder-scented antiperspirant, car fragrance or drawer liners. Why? The smell of baby powder can quell a bad mood by evoking feelings (and memories) of safety and comfort, says Dr. Alan Hirsch, M.D., a neurologist and psychiatrist who heads up the the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, Illinois.

Page 1 of 2 – on page two: four more cures for crankiness!

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