You woke up late. You spilled coffee on your last clean shirt. You completely blanked on that semi-important document your boss needed, and you just realized that he’s going to ask for it at the end of the day. You feel like you’ve got a front seat on the struggle bus, and your stop is nowhere in sight.
Don’t worry- we’ve all been there. Everybody’s had a bad day (often more than one bad day) and the good news is that it will pass. Knowing that doesn’t make it any better, though, so here are some tips to help you make it through even the worst bad day out there!
1) Don’t complain
This one’s important. The temptation, of course, is to complain about your lot- but don’t! Complaining is the worst thing you can do. New studies are showing that not only does complaining actually hurt your brain, it makes everyone around you more depressed and hurts their mental health. So you’re hurting not just yourself but everyone who listens to you when you complain.
Complaining doesn’t help- it just makes you relive the stressful moment over again (in fact, the study above shows that complaining releases almost the same amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, as experiencing the actual event). There’s nothing you can do about the coffee spilled on your shirt, or waking up late, or forgetting the boss’ report. What’s done is done, and nobody needs to hear about it- most of all you, again! Forget about it, don’t complain, and stay positive!
2) Don’t compare yourself with others
It’s easy to think that everyone else is having a fantastic day- everyone else except you. The truth is that almost everybody puts their best face forward. Think about it- you might be close to falling apart on your bad day, but nobody around you knows it!
By the same token, don’t compare yourself to the happiest people in the office day in and day out. They might be having a bad day too and are just as good as you at hiding it.
3) Remember the good things
When you’re having a bad day, it’s easy to forget that your life has good moments too. Human beings are, unfortunately, programmed to remember negative things better than positive things. So we have to force ourselves to remember good things, otherwise it’ll seem that our bad day is just the latest in a series of bad days.
This is easier said than done, and to overcome that bias towards negative things you need to force your brain to remember the good. I keep and encourage you to keep a positivity journal and write in it every good thing that happens to you. That way, when you’re having a bad day, you can look in it and see that it’s not all days like these!
4) Don’t see problems, see solutions
When you’ve got problems in front of you, it’s hard to see anything but how huge they are. Combined with having a bad day, it can seem like nothing you do will ever be able to overcome the problem in front of you, and it seems impossible to even conceive of a solution.
The trick is to start thinking about solutions! It doesn’t matter how. A trick I use is to get out a pen and write down 10 solutions to my problem at hand. It doesn’t matter how crazy they are- it could be “Create robot to write my articles.” All that matters is that you’re writing down solutions, not problems. By the end of the 10 crazy solutions, you’ll be in a problem solving mode- in fact, one of those solutions might even be a good one!
5) Know that things change
Change happens. It’s one of the fundamental forces of the universe. For some people, this is scary- for you, however, it’s uplifting! If you’re having a bad day, know that it won’t last forever. Everything changes, even your days- know that a bad day can be followed just as easily as another one.
That said, don’t wait for change to happen to you. Look for it- make it happen! The biggest influence on how your change happens… is you!
6) Have a plan
Sometimes things can feel like they’re spiraling out of control- and they probably are, if you’re not planning. Approaching things in a haphazard, spontaneous way is a surefire bet to drop everything on your plate and make your day even worse.
Have a plan and try to stick with it! Decide what you’re going to attack and how, and prioritize things as they come on to your plate. Breaking down your tasks into a manageable plan of action is the first step to actually getting them done and getting through the nightmare of a day you’re having.
7) Stay positive
It doesn’t matter if the sky is falling- stay positive! Your attitude is the #1 thing that will keep your bad day from turning even worse. Many times with these types of days there are events that happen that are completely outside of your control, and by taking a deep breath and staying positive even when the worst is thrown at you you’ll actually make your day better through sheer force of will.
On a bad day, your attitude is the most important factor. In fact, sometimes the difference between a bad day and an alright day is only the way you look at it!
Do you have any tips for dealing with a bad day? Share them in the comments!