Bad days suck!
That’s about all there is to it.
And we’ve all been there. You have every intention of waking up and having a great and productive day; workout clothes are laid out, coffee maker is prepped and the to-do list is ready and waiting to be tackled. And then you actually wake up and one thing after the other goes wrong. It starts to drain your energy, you lose your motivation to do anything and it absolutely feels like a storm cloud is raining down on you and only you.
It can be extremely easy to get swept up in the stress of a bad day, to feel unable to see beyond all the things that are going wrong and to begin taking this stress out on both ourselves and other people.
However, regardless of went wrong, what did or did not happen, what failed, what broke, what got delayed or who said what there are ways we can manage the stress of a bad day and begin turning things around. So here are my top 10 tips to helping you de-stress, press reset and begin feeling in control of your day.
STRESS BUSTIN’ STEPS FOR BAD DAYS
1. Stop and breathe. Sit in silence for at least 5 minutes
When we are overwhelmed by a bad day or situation we can get so caught up in the mental and emotional chaos that we can’t even think clearly or rationally about the actual situation. One thing I notice about myself is that if I try to keep going like this I find that I become even less productive. I make more mistakes, I say things I don’t mean and it just gets harder and harder to complete my day. By taking a minimum of 5 minutes to turn off whatever noise or distraction that I can, sitting quietly and taking a few deep breaths I immediately find myself calmer and more in tune with what exactly is going on with me. In all honesty, if I do this when I’m having a really bad day I am likely to have a good cry right after, which is all good! This is my body’s way of letting out that built up negative energy in a healthy way.
2. Acknowledge your stress. Give it a voice, temporarily
It is perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that things have sucked in your day. That this was not the plan. That you feel frustrated and disappointed and hurt and worried, and so on. And it is just as important to remember that this day will not last forever. You have had bad days in the past, and look, you are still here! By taking a moment to simply ask yourself, how am I feeling right now? and validating your emotions you are taking the first step to releasing your stress and moving on from it. Seriously, ask yourself this question. Label your emotions and own them, don’t let them own you.
3. Move your body
We know that mind and body are tightly linked, and what affects one will affect the other. When we get stressed out all sorts of chemical reactions start happening to prepare our body for dealing with the stressor (think of it like your body is getting ready to go to battle….with that darn printer that won’t print!). So here we are trying to relax and our body is in a beefed up, hormone ridden state, ready for action. So what do you do? Get active, and help your body release all that built up energy. Some people find going for a run or hitting the gym to lift weights works really well, and some find slowing things down with a yoga or tai chi session fits the bill. Each have their benefits, so do your research, experiment, and maybe try something new. Even if it is a walk around the block, a few stretches or a dance off in the middle of your living room, just remember to move your body.
4. Mind your self talk
We’ve all heard of the power of thoughts. We can do amazing things when we believe it so. The same goes for our negative thoughts. When we are thinking in stressed out and negative ways we can actually make a bad day even worse. However, you can do a lot to combat your bad day by examining and being intentional with your thoughts. What do I mean by this? Here are a few examples:
- This has definitely been a rough day. Not all days are going to be like this. I can handle it.
- I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to, but I’ve done my best and tomorrow is a new day.
- Everyone has bad days. It is not just me.
Notice how these statements aren’t all butterflies and rainbows? They each acknowledge that things haven’t been the greatest, but are paired with a more positive (and true) statement. This is what is called balanced thinking. By thinking in balanced and more complete ways we can neutralize our emotional responses, and then act in ways that are not so emotionally charged. This can combat what are called thinking traps, which are patterns of thinking that literally trap us in our stress. Click here for examples of thinking traps.
When we are stressed our energy reserves are often depleted. There are a number of healthy and yummy foods that have been shown to combat anxiety and depression, and that can also boost immune system function, something that is often compromised by stress. Here is a great article by Mercola on superfoods for stress relief. In addition, try getting some rest. If it is closer to the middle of the day, set your alarm for 20 minutes and take a nap (try not to let this last much longer than 20 minutes or your body will think it’s night time). I love naps and I take them regularly. I get into some comfy pants (haha, like I’m not always in comfy pants), get into my bed, and enjoy the bliss of a mid afternoon nap! If it’s close to bedtime, try allowing yourself to shut down the to do list (as much as possible), and simply go to bed. Sometimes one of the most relieving things is just knowing the terrible, awful day has come to an end and it’s time to rest. At minimum, try drinking some water and getting some fresh air. All of these small choices can make a big difference!
6. Take a self care break.
Get creative with this. Self care can be as big as planning a weekend away and as small as making a cup of tea.
7. Get your creative juices flowing
As an alternative (or addition) to physical activity, writing things out in a journal, drawing, colouring or being creative in some way can also be very stress relieving. It helps to translate the stress from your brain and body outwards into something productive. This can be really useful when you can’t really get up and move, like sitting at your desk or in school.
Find a funny YouTube video, turn on your favourite comedy or call up a friend who you makes you laugh. Laughter truly can be the best medicine. Sometimes, I’ll even turn to laughing at the absurdity of my awful day.
9. Adjust your expectations.
If you feel like you have everything to accomplish but just aren’t getting anywhere and it’s overwhelming you, sometimes it can be helpful to reassess what is possible in the day you are having, and to let the rest go for tomorrow.You are still a SuperWoman if you go to bed with a sink full of dirty dishes and the laundry unfolded.
10. Ground Yourself
Watch something refreshing and motivational. Something that reminds you of who you are, and what you are working towards. Or something that reminds you to be grateful that you even woke up today. When we get scooped up by our stress, sometimes we just need a little grounding to put things back into perspective.
What do you think? I’d love to hear what you do to combat a bad day, and which of these tips you might want to try the next time nothing seems to be going right!