Bad days sneak up on us sometimes, or so I’m told. (Hate me if you want to, but I don’t really *have* bad days anymore, because I decided that I didn’t want to have bad days. Even though I stepped on a live lizard last week. In my bare feet. I changed my thinking, and you can, too! Keep reading.)
We have the power to send those bad days packing just as quickly as they arrived, and slowly a “bad day” becomes just a “bad hour” or a “bad moment”, and then there’s just life.
Life is too short to write a whole day off as “bad”.
Here’s what *doesn’t* work to turn a bad day around:
- eating for emotional comfort
- taking it out one someone or something
- escape – like shopping, drinking, or even television marathons
- hiding from it and hoping it goes away
- deciding you just don’t have a good life
- empty “motivational phrases”
What you can do *right now* to make your day better:
Just take 5 deep breaths. I don’t care how stupid you think I am for saying that, just do it.
Drink a glass of water.
Because you deserve to be taken care of, no matter what kind of negativity you’re feeling right now.
Move for a few minutes.
Do a few stretches (even if you’re sitting at your desk at work) or take a 2-3 minute walk. Sneak off to the restroom and do a few push-ups on the wall. It won’t get your endorphins flowing, but it *will* re-connect you with the present moment.
Read or watch something short and funny.
Don’t have a favorite online snort-inducer? Check out some of these (some of the comedy content is totally NSFW, NSF children, etc., so put on some headphones):
(If you’re at work or have things to get done, make sure you don’t stay stuck on this step for hours.)
Identify your next step.
Whatever you were trying to get done when your day got bad – whether it’s something at work or something at home – identify what your immediate next small step should be. Did you get interrupted by a less-than-kind email or drive-by desk visit at the office? By now, you should feel ready to get back to the project you were working on before it arrived. Did you see a number you didn’t like on the scale and now you want to give up and go back to bed with a box of donuts? Just pick up where you left off – get dressed in clothes you like, go make yourself something healthy for your next meal, and get on with your day.
Even if you don’t want to. Take the next step. Do it. You don’t have to feel 100% better by now, just 1 or 2%.
What you can do *later* to make your day better:
Immediate relief is nice, but long-term success is even better so that you don’t spend 7 hours of your workday doing push-ups in the bathroom. So, if you’re still feeling snarled up inside after a few hours have passed, here’s what might help.
Take an extended shower.
Reset. Let go. Consider it a brief home spa experience.
Figure out what’s really wrong.
Are you being less-than-kind to yourself because you feel like you haven’t reached important goals or done your best? (For example, beating yourself up because your pants didn’t fit or you made an unhealthy food choice…or because you wanted to run 99 miles and you only ran 1, or because you plain old haven’t worked out in 2 weeks….) Be nice to yourself, then take a small step toward your goal right now. Repeat as needed.
Keep a journal.
It can be a crappy journal. It can be a journal you only write in when you’re feeling snarled up and angry or bummed out or like a failure. You can keep it secret. But, put pen to paper and get your feelings out. You don’t even have to reread your scribblings to evaluate yourself – just get them out.
No offense, but our lives are kind of small. Over time, we can do giant, great things, but our day-to-day ups and downs (especially those downs) aren’t super important to our forward and upward progress. So, take your perspective, and zoom out a little. How important will the issue at hand be to you in a month? In a year? In 10 years? If it will still be important, take the next step right now to make a change for the better.
Get out of the past…and stay out of the future.
Stop spending time anticipating future problems or reliving past ones. Go watch something funny, or volunteer, or go for a walk at least while you wallow. When did worrying about something that might possibly happen ever help, even if that thing did eventually happen?
Change does not happen overnight. Change is the result of many small moments of challenge and struggle, so accept that the speedbumps are helping you move forward and don’t sweat them. But don’t hide from them or use them as excuses to turn around, either.
Working out doesn’t have to be your hobby. But have an activity (or two) that isn’t work, television, or something on your phone that you enjoy and can participate in regularly. You were meant for more than just paying bills and “surviving”, so go take those photographs, audition for that play, read that book, plant that garden, paint that masterpiece, start that blog….
I’m not saying that real problems don’t exist.
But they’re no reason to write off any day as a “bad day”. Most “bad days” are more like “negative perspectives” – you already have the power to make any day great no matter what happens in it because you determine whether you find the silver lining or dive into the dumpster. Real problems are part of life, and we solve them one piece at a time.