Living Turn Your Bad Days Around
“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
– Henry David Thoreau
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
Some days are great, better than you would have expected when you rolled out of the bed in the morning. Quite a few days are just good and OK days. And then we have the other ones. The days that just wind up being bad.
What do you do then? I used to let them drag me down and I often wound up having not just one but a couple of bad days because of whatever happened. Nowadays I do things a bit differently. And this week I’d like to share how I do that. Here are some tips and habits that help me to turn a bad day around. Most of the time I use more than one of these habits to do that.
I usually start turning my day around with shaking things up by using my body in some way. The first thing I almost always do is to just breathe. I breathe deeply through my nose by using my belly. I focus only on the air going in and out for 1-2 minutes. This calms my body and mind.
2. Do a power pose
Then I sometimes follow that up by striking what Amy Cuddy calls a power pose for about 2 minutes. The simplest way to strike a power pose is to stand up confidently like Wonder Woman or Superman with your legs apart, head up and your hands on your hips. It might sound odd but it can really change how you feel in a quick and positive way.
3. Work out
Another habit I use several times a week to shake things up by using my body is to lift free weights in my home. I do this for about 30-40 minutes and it helps me to release tensions and worry. And after I am done, I feel more powerful, focused and energetic.
Just by hugging someone quickly you can feel safer and more optimistic again. And an embrace that lasts 30 seconds or a minute or more can recharge your batteries and release an unexpectedly large amount of stress and tensions.
5. Pet an animal
If you don’t have anyone close by to hug during a bad day then pet your cat, dog, bird etc. It has a very similar calming and stress reliving effect. And it makes your animal companion happy and that in turn will boost your mood too.
6. Find a new viewpoint
The body tips above often work well to change my perspective by altering my emotional state and energy level. Sometimes something more is needed though. So, I start looking more actively for a better and more helpful viewpoint on the situation at hand by asking myself a couple of questions.
Three of my most commonly used questions that help me with that are:
a. Will this matter 5 years from now?
b. Who cares?
c. What is one small action, one small and practical step I can take to start turning this day or situation around?
7. Go out into nature and enjoy it all
Leave your couch or workspace for a little while. Talk a walk and just soak in the crisp autumn air. Enjoy the birds singing and the colors shifting. Just being out there in nature tends to make it easier to think optimistically again and to start looking for practical solutions or upsides. Or you can simply be there in the moment fully and let your thoughts about for example work rest for a while. Another upside is that the fresh air, sunshine and exercise during this 20–30-minute pause in my day also recharges my energy.
8. Accept what is
One thing that sometimes work better than just about anything is simply to accept what is at this moment. To not deny or try to push away negative feelings or thoughts that show up. Even though you may feel an impulse to do so. Instead, just accept what is right now. The thoughts and feelings within you. And just be with them fully and observe them flowing through you.
By doing so you are not giving up. No, because when you accept what is then you stop feeding the negative thoughts in your mind with more energy. And so, they become weaker. They start to lose their grip on you after a while and then they float away. And so, you feel more open and are able to think more clearly again.
9. If you made a mistake then don’t let your inner critic take over
If you’re having a bad day because of a mistake, you’ve made or a failure you’ve had then don’t let your inner critic take over. Instead, as soon as you hear it start berating you in your mind with negative thoughts about you and your worth do this: Say a stop phrase. In your mind, say or shout, something like: Stop! Or: No, no, no we are not going down this road again!
Then, after you have silenced your inner critic ask yourself this: How would my friend/parent support me and help me in this situation? Then simply do things and talk to yourself like he or she would. This will help you to feel better again and to move forward to solve and improve upon the situation. And it’s a much better use of your time and energy than beating yourself up.
10. Tell yourself : Just for today!
I learned this one from Brian Tracy probably 10 years ago. And in this case, it can help you avoid falling back into those destructive responses to a bad day that may have become a bit of a habit for you. So, what you do is this, tell yourself that: Just for today I will X! And in this case, you can replace that X with for example “not beat myself up about a mistake!” or “focus on solutions and action instead of procrastinating!”.
The nice thing about this one is that you only make a small commitment to do things differently today. Then you can go back to your old ways tomorrow if you like. But you may not want to and perhaps you instead start building a positive spiral of positivity for the whole week. Or, you go back to your old ways sometimes and sometimes you use this tip to handle a bad day in a more constructive way.
11. Get outside of your own head by adding positivity to someone else’s life
One of the simplest ways to get outside of your own head and out of sinking deeper and deeper into your own negative thoughts about your day is to add positivity to someone else’s life. That focus outward and on someone else can drastically shift your perspective around for the better.
You can for example:
Help someone out. With for instance moving houses, with planning for an upcoming job interview or by offering some advice that has helped you in a similar situation that your friend is in now.
Just listen. Sometimes people just want someone to truly listen for a little while as they work out their own situation and possible solutions.
Be kind. Give a genuine compliment for something that means a lot to the other person or something she does that is often taken for granted.
12. Take 5-15 minutes to read some motivational quotes
This is something I quite often do to change my mood and viewpoint and to find some new motivation.
13. Journal about your day
Writing down your thoughts and feelings about your day can help you to mentally step back a step or two from what is happening and to see things with more clarity (and from a wider perspective).
Doing this has helped me many times to not build a mountain out of a molehill and to start finding solutions to my current situation and or at least a small step or two that I can take to begin moving in the right direction.
14. Tap into gratitude
When you’re having a bad day or you’re in some kind of bad situation then you may get lost in only seeing the negative things in your life. A way to counter that and to break out the pessimism that can suck out so much of your energy and trap you in inaction is to ask yourself a few questions that help you to tap into gratitude.
So, ask yourself these 3 questions:
a. What are 3 things I can be thankful for in my life today?
b. Who are 3 people I can be thankful to have in my life and why?
c. What are 3 things I can be thankful for about myself?
These things don’t have to be big things. They could just be the nice weather, that you have access to clean drinking water, that you flossed today or that your friend made you laugh yesterday.