You know those days that feel like awful, terrible, no-good, bad days? The kind where nothing seems to be going your way and you’re wondering if you can just call it quits right where you are?
I had one of those days last week. I’d hit roadblock after roadblock and spent about two hours of my day on hold with insurance companies. I tried something new on my site, which totally flopped, and my computer decided it didn’t feel like cooperating any longer. I felt defeated, discouraged, and completely over it. You have those days, right? Today, I’m here to share seven simple, yet proven ways to stop a bad day in it’s tracks.
1. Take a slow, deep breath. And another. And another. Then in ten minutes, take another one. Y’all know I’m a huge advocate for mindful breathing, and there are few situations where a full, deep breath isn’t my first line of defense. (Sidenote: a deep breath and a huff are not the same thing.) This simple strategy stops your frustration or discouragement from bleeding into the next moment, helping you regain your wits to use one or all of the strategies below. (Don’t believe me about breathing? Check this out.)
2. Name three things that have gone well in the day. No matter how rough your day is, it’s not all bad. In the midst of all the day’s muck, there are a few positives. It is crucial that you stop and make time to recognize these. This will challenge your brain’s natural tendency to categorize the entire day as awful. Remember the day I described above? I appreciated that the hold music I heard for two hours was tolerable, I was the last car through the light leaving work, and a client complimented the candle burning in my office. There were about 25 things that weren’t so great, but by taking time to notice and name the few that were, I challenged my brain from thinking it was 100% a bad day.
3. Take a break. Even if it’s just for two minutes, stop what you are doing, push away from the muck, and do something else. If you can take a longer break, potentially for a meal or a walk, even better. It’s rare that in the middle of a “bad day,” we can take a ton of time to push back, so even if your break is super short, force yourself to take it. It will help.
4. Watch something that makes you smile. This interrupts the cycle and infuses some humor and happiness. For me last week, it was the video of Ludacris rapping, “Llama, llama.” I have no idea why that video brings me such joy, but it does. I encourage people to have a few go-to videos that they can easily access during a tough day. Funny animals, Ellen Degeneres, or your kid being silly are easy places to start.
5. Use coping statements. Changing the voice in our heads is particularly important on tough days. That involves actively talking yourself through it. See a few of my favorite coping statements here. My go-to coping statement last week? “I’ve felt this before, and I made it through.”
6. Seek out encouragement. Talk with someone who is generally encouraging, and let them know that you’re struggling. Try not to go on a rant about how awful the day has been. Venting doesn’t help. Instead, use your emotion words to describe how you’re feeling. Overwhelmed, worried, discouraged, helpless, etc. By sharing your emotions, you increase the likelihood of receiving the kind encouragement you so desperately need.
7. Think about yesterday. My guess? It wasn’t as bad. Today is tough, but 24 hours ago, you were doing ok. This tip helps you realize the temporary nature of a “bad day.” The day before my crappy day? It was actually awesome. I had several big wins, so much so that I had texted my family about it. Remembering this helped me tolerate the crappiness of the current day, realizing it was a blip on my radar.
As a human, you’re bound to have days that just don’t go your way. Days you want to pull out your hair or throw in the towel. So while these strategies won’t get rid of bad days, they will definitely make them more tolerable.
What’s your go-to strategy for dealing with a bad day?