10 Strategies for Dealing with a Bad Day
We all have a bad day sometimes. Your ‘bad day’ can range from missing the bus, being shouted at by your boss or a myriad of small catastrophes all leading up to you crying in the toilet at work or punching a wall. Worse still, sometimes we can get covered in a fog that makes us not want to lift our heads from beneath the duvet. I’ve been paying attention to what helps in the bad days. As with everything, the tips are surprisingly simple BUT they have made a HUGE difference to my mental ability to cope. So here goes, starting from the VERY basic, but VERY important.
1. Have a SHOWER!! I know, I know, staying in your pyjamas and watching reruns of Friends seems like a much better idea. But, I guarantee you, it’s not. Ok, we all need pyjama days, but when you are teetering on the edge of the mental precipice, you need to do what you can to get yourself off the ledge. That means, in the most simple terms, you should have a shower, wash your hair and refresh your mind.
2. The beauty about having a shower is that the next step is easy, get dressed!! I don’t care if you don’t have to go anywhere and if no one is going to see you, getting dressed mentally changes your mindset, it puts you into gear for action instead of slobbing. Both of these things may seem like silly ideas, but believe me, for anyone who has ever truly had a ‘bad day’ for anyone who has ever danced with the unexpected visitor depression, having a shower and getting dressed are the mental equivalent of running a marathon. Not doing these things are the slippery slope to ‘no-hope-ville’ ◦
3. Have at least 1 personal goal for the day and achieve it. This could be to meditate, maybe it’s to pay your phone bill or to tidy your bedside cabinet. Having 1 small goal that is achievable and not overwhelming. But what’s great about it is that it will make you feel productive, which will kick start a chain reaction. Before you know it you’ll have tackled something else you’ve been avoiding. You’ll regain your sense of self and self worth and your mind will begin to open up through the fog. I find tidying my bedroom and clearing out my wardrobe a great one for giving me a sense of achievement and importantly CONTROL.
4. Go for a walk. It’s so easy to lose yourself when you’re cocooned up in the ‘stories in your head’ at home. Leaving the house and getting out into the world is a powerful way of wakening myself up, resetting me to ‘factory settings’ and making me feel normal again. It almost changes the benchmark for me, no matter what I’ve been worrying about before, getting out always makes me realise that the worries are not nearly as big as I have made them.
5. Call a friend or meet someone and talk. Yes, talk about life but also talk about burgers too, or comedy shows or anything that isn’t the worlds problems. It’s tempting to retreat into our cave when we are feeling bad but the key is to do the opposite, stay connected and reach out to people.
6. LAUGH OUT LOUD. I’m a big fan of comedies, I don’t allow myself to watch anything but comedy after 8pm (I have very vivid dreams otherwise). I used to live with a group of girls and our Sunday ‘Rule’ was comedies only. Laughing makes everything better.
7. Exercise!! Even if it’s just a walk around the block or a 5km run. It doesn’t matter what you do but the act of ‘doing’ releases endorphins into your body. As Psychologist Kelly McGonnigal says it’s the ‘closest thing to a wonder drug’ – it reduces cravings, depression, appetite and increases serotonin and oxytocin, what could be better? ◦
8. Do something nice for someone else. “Do good, feel good” – this really works. It makes us feel better, we feel a sense of self worth and we bring a little bit of sunshine to someone else’s day. It looks altruistic but we gain too.
9. Be grateful – this has the power to reframe your day. It’s as simple as asking yourself at the start or end of each day to consider 2 things you are grateful for. It’s better if you write it down or better still put it in a ‘gratitude jar’ which you can then read at the end of the year or anytime you’re having a bad day. ◦
10. Journal your thoughts, it’s so much better to get all the mess out of your head. It’s different from when you talk through your thinking, because when you have to write you need to commit to a narrative. This very process helps you make sense of what’s going on with you, it’s a fast way to untangle what’s happening in your head and it helps you put thinks in perspective.