How to get through a bad day
Mental Health

How to get through a bad day

5 min read

Yesterday I had a meeting with two of my favourite collegues. We mostly discussed our organisation’s content calendar but we also had a little catch up which evolved into a discussion on emotions, dealing with sadness and stress. I am very grateful that right now I feel pretty happy most days, but as everyone I have bad days as well. There were a number of years in my life where most days were pretty difficult. It was a tough time but I learned a lot about what helps me to find joy even when the circumstances aren’t very bright. I thought it might be interesting and helpful to some of you to read my tips on how to get through a bad day.

Before we jump in, I wanted to give a little disclaimer. Having a couple of bad days where you aren’t feeling on top of the world is part of life. However, if you are feeling sad and low for a sustained period of time, you struggle to get out of bed in the morning or ponder suicadal thoughts I would strongly encourage you to seek out professional help. Contact your doctor or a therapist. There is no shame in asking for support. You deserve to get help and to feel better.

How to get through a bad day: Accept it

So, you are having a bad day. Maybe you had a bad night as your toddler things sleep is for the weak. Then you spilt the coffee and your husband says something that annoys you. Work deadlines are looming and laundry baskets are piling next to unpaid bills. This is a hypothetical scenario, obviously! Your bad day might look completely different.

Either way, let’s start by taking a five minute break. Take some deep breaths. Acknowledge your bad mood, your anger, your sadness, or whatever emotions you are feeling. Know that it is okay, to feel that way. It is not sinful or ungrateful or bad of you to have a negative emotion.

As I have said, it is okay. For now, just accept that you are having a bad day. You don’t need to diminish how you are feeling by comparing your situation to someone who has it way worse. Don’t call yourself silly. Instead, take yourself and how you feel seriously.

Ask why

Then, figure out why you are feeling anxious or sad or annoyed. If you know why – you might be able to do something about it. Maybe you need to take a nap. Apologise to your husband. Delegate some tasks or see if you can extend a deadline.

In case you are feeling low or tired for a number of days and you don’t really know why, it might be worth checking in with your doctor. Potentially you lack some vitamins or there are hormonal issues.

Feel the emotion

It is unpleasant to feel sad, angry or stressed. Hence, it can be very tempting to distract ourselves or to try and escape from our feelings. And that’s okay. But I believe that there is some value in really feeling our emotions. This essentially goes back to my earlier – you want to take yourself seriously. Your emtions matter.

Also, always pushing our negative emotions down can lead to other problems. If you ignore the feeling, you probably also ignore what caused it. You won’t get to the bottom of the issue by drowning out what your own body and soul are trying to tell you.

How to get through a bad day: practical tips

After accepting, investigating and feeling your bad day, you might be ready to move on. So let’s look at some ways how a bad day might get a bit better.

1. Take a break

You might not be able to take the whole day off, but maybe you can take a longer lunch break if you are at work and go for a walk. If you have children, ask a friend or your partner to watch them so you have 30 minutes to yourself. I find that physically getting away from a situation, even if it is just for a couple of minutes, helps to get back to it with fresh motivation.

2. Look after your body

Most of us know that our bodies and minds are intricately linked. In spite of this knowledge we have a tendency to ignore the needs of our bodies, especially in times of stress. When you are in a bad mood it might help you to take some extra good care of your body. Have a tasty, healthy meal, make sure you drink enough and get some fresh air. If you can – exercise! Physical activity can help release endorphins, which are happy-hormones, and more of them are always good.

3. Gratitude

Write down three things that are good about today. This is not about diminishing the bad, but about shifting our focus onto the good. I have a roof over my head! My child is healthy! Spring is coming!

4. Choose real joy

I like connecting with people on social media, but scrolling through my Instagram feed for an hour does not make me feel happy or energised. Sometimes, in order to get through a bad day, I have to force myself to stop with the cheap, easy entertainment and choose real joy. Practice piano. Read a book. Listen to some music. Pick up my knitting.

5. Get out of your head

For me, one of the best ways to get out of a mood is people. Meeting up with a friend, going to church, a toddler group or hanging out with my family shifts my perspective away from my annoyance over all the laundry to other people.

I might talk about what bothers me, I might not. But being in the company of others keeps me from spiraling. Often my bad mood is over somehing insignificant but it blows up in my head to enourmous dimensions. Seeing my problems through other people’s eyes helps them shrink back to the right size.

6. Pray

As a Christian, I also find a lot of comfort in bringing my problems and feelings to Jesus and asking him for help. Focusing on his kindness and grace shifts my perspective and often I find fresh peace when spending a couple of moments in prayer.

I hope you are having a good day! If not, I hope this post might equip you with some helpful pointers on how to get through a bad day. Either way, if you have any tips or strategies of your own, I’d love to hear them!

This is Day 10 of my 100 Day Project. You can learn more about my 100 day project by reading this post.

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