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We all have those days.
You know the ones.
Where you wake up on the “wrong side of the bed.”
…But a more accurate description could be the “wrong side of the earth.”
Maybe you wake up groggy, miss your alarm, sleep in…
Or maybe you wake up perfectly fine but then something happens…
You spill your coffee, you get into an argument with a family member, or someone ate that last donut you’d been saving for breakfast.
Then, you go to work or school and hit traffic.
…Or, you get your essay back and it’s not the grade you expected.
Or you go to work and your boss is less than impressed about a report you handed in.
And suddenly your day is officially crap.
If you could crawl back into bed and press “restart” you would.
But, you have to finish out the day so you can go back come and cry… or scream… or however you get out your frustrations.
That’s the way it typically goes, right?
But what if it could go another way.
What if you could change your bad day into a good one with just a few simple actions.
Suddenly that spilled coffee seemed like it happened yesterday.
And, you have a fresh start even though it’s only been an hour or two.
Although it’s normal to have bad days, there are a few things you can try to turn it around.
In this post, we’ll show you actions you can take to turn terrible days into good ones.
How to Turn a Bad Day into a Good Day: 12 Ways
If you’re having a crappy day but want it to go better, try some of these tips to see if any work for you.
Sounds simple, right? By now, you’ve probably heard about meditation. Although the practice has roots thousands of years old, it’s now being recognized in modern medicine. That’s because it has many benefits ranging from emotional to physical. Meditation is the practice of TRYING to quiet your mind (but probably not actually making it silent).
There’s different forms of the practice, but one highly researched form is mindfulness meditation. These days, mindfulness is used by psychotherapists around the world for a variety of conditions, such as anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Although there’s a growing body of evidence around it, it’s been shown to change the way your brain functions. That’s right, without any sort of drug, you can physically change your brain.
A mindfulness meditation may look like sitting quietly with your hands by your sides. Instead of letting your mind “run wild,” you focus on your breathing. You can choose to breathe as you normally would and just observe it. Or, you can choose to consciously breathe (in through the nose and out through the mouth). Whatever you choose, observe the breath—how it feels, the pace of it, etc. As you pay attention to your breathing, you’ll probably notice it start to slow down. And with that, any tension may slowly drain away.
Although this sounds simple, inevitably thoughts will pop up. For example, “I still need to get that coffee stain out my shirt? Which product should I use? If I let it sit too long, it will get worse.” If you don’t stop the thought, it could trail off into another topic. For example, “I’m almost out of stain remover and I need to buy more. I forgot to make my grocery list last night too. What food do we need?”
This is completely normal, but your goal here is to stop it from trailing off. So, you’d acknowledge the thought about the stain on your shirt. And then you’d focus back on your breathing. And, when you think about the stain or anything else again, you just keep refocusing on your breathing. This could happen dozens or hundreds of times in one session depending on how long you meditate.
After a session, you may notice less frustration and may ease back into your day better—almost like hitting “reset.” However, meditation gives the most benefits when it’s practiced regularly over time. Try to carve out some time in your routine for it and see if it makes a difference on bad days.
If you’re having a bad day, take a few minutes (even if it’s just 2 or 5) to sit and breathe and focus on your breath.
Depending on your schedule, impromptu exercise may not always be possible when you’re having a bad day. However, it doesn’t need to be a long workout session to count.
The reasoning behind this is that physical activity releases endorphins. These are dubbed the “feel good” chemicals that can make us feel happier. So, when you’re feeling upset or frustrated going into your day, some exercise can serve as a quick pick-me-up.
If you have time in the morning, you can fit in a gym session. But most of us probably aren’t in that boat unless we already have it planned. (And, if you do have it planned, don’t cancel your workout because of a bad day!!). However, we can do quick bursts of exercise.
For example, the app 7 minute workout provides very quick exercises you can do within that timeframe. Another option is to search for something quick on YouTube to follow. If you don’t like the sound of that, at least see if you can fit in a brisk walk. Doing something physical can put the focus into your body rather than your bad day thoughts, making you feel better.
#3 Find Nature
Just like exercise can bring you out of your head, so can nature.
If it sounds too “tree hugger’ for you, consider this: spending time in nature can make you kinder and happier according to a study. Before you head out the door on your bad day, spend a moment in your backyard focusing on the flowers. If you don’t have a backyard, take a small walk into a place of greenery. If you don’t have enough time or there’s no spaces near you, consider stopping at a park on the way to work.
Just walking around or sitting by a tree by uplift your spirits.
#4 Talk to Someone You Love
…Unless that person is the reason you’re having a bad day.
Otherwise, it can be a great tip to lift your spirits. For example, if you had a rough start, texting your boyfriend or girlfriend could bring a smile to your face. And bonus points if they know exactly what to do to calm you down.
Or, maybe the person who always relaxes you is your mom or best friend—give them a call when you’re having a bad day. Rather than ranting, see if you can talk about other things to get the frustrations off your mind.
#5 Hug Someone
If you start of the day feeling bad, hug someone in your house if you can. If you’re not a hugger, it may seem random, but it can help.
Hugging can release oxytocin, which is sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone.” Luckily, oxytocin has been linked to happiness and less stress. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, hug it out!
#6 Pet a Pet
When I’m feeling overwhelmed and bad, I love to have a quick snuggle with my pup. It’s really hard not to feel better afterwards.
I’m not saying it will cure all your worries. But when you have a little puppy staring back in your eyes, life seems a little less horrible. Can the day really be that bad if at the end of it you get to come home to your beloved pet?
#7 Have Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is the idea of treating yourself as you’d treat a friend you’d love. AKA, instead of scolding yourself for your bad day, empathize with yourself. When we do this, we’re able to move forward easier.
For example, you may think “wow, I put the coffee too close to the table again and spilled it. This is my fault and I’m such an idiot that I ruined a perfectly good shirt and now I’m late for my morning.”
Although natural, try something a bit unnatural. Ask yourself, what would you say to a friend? Probably something like, “Yeah, you put the coffee too close to the edge but you didn’t mean to and things like this happen to everyone. You may not be able to get the stain out, but you can buy a new shirt, you’re only human.”
By seeing the humanness in the situation, we can also see the reality of it without talking crap about ourselves. With less hostility against ourselves, we should be able to approach the day easier and leave some of that negativity behind.
#8 Strike a Pose
…a power pose that is. Whether this works for you or not is something you’ll have to try. But there’s a whole TED talk about body language affecting how you feel.
To put it simply, “power posing” is standing in a posture that signals confidence. Even if we don’t feel confident, that can help boost feelings on confidence–getting us to our goal of feeling better. Her premise is basically that the body “tricks” the mind into feeling certain ways with poses. Then, that becomes how we actually feel. To get the benefits, you can watch the video. But here’s a quick one to try out: Superwoman pose. Stand with your legs apart and your hands on your hips, looking upwards. Yep, you got this day! 🙂
#9 Big Picture Thinking
Have you ever had anyone say to you, “look at the big picture?”
Honestly, it can be pretty annoying sometimes. Especially when all you care about is the tiny picture (hey, tiny pictures matter too!). But once we’ve processed our feelings over the “small picture” (ex. the spilled coffee), it’s time to gain a bigger perspective.
So, how do we do that when we’re all caught up in how we feel. One simple way is to ask ourselves questions. For example, if we’re angry that we ruined our favorite shirt by spilling coffee, to gain perspective we can ask:
- Can I buy another shirt?
- Were there worst things I could have spilled it on?
- Will this matter tomorrow, next week, next month, next year?
- Does this impact my actual life and the way I live?
When we ask ourselves these questions, we may begin to see that although frustrating, we’ll get by it. Sulking in it won’t help the stain disappear. And maybe, just maybe, we can leave most of it behind for a better day ahead.
Sometimes, reading can take us out of our heads and into someone elses. One example would be a novel that you just can’t put down. But, it could also be something different, such as reading a magazine article about something you’re really interested in. If you don’t have anything good handy, read something fun online on your phone. Even if it’s just a story about a heroic dog, it could help!
If your morning starts out really bad, even if you don’t think you have time, it may be worth it to carve out a few minutes to read. Even just a little time focusing on something else other than your frustrations can be enough to turn the mood around.
Laughter is medicine and it can cure a bad day sometimes!
If you wake up in a crap mood, get ready with a standup comedy on the TV. Another option is to just play an audio standup as you drive or commute to work. Of course, maybe funny cat videos are more your thing. Whatever it is, laughing can get you back to enjoying the day or at least make you forget about the annoyances for a moment.
#12 Ride the Wave
Sometimes, days are bad. And despite our best efforts, they don’t seem to get any better until we hit the pillow.
Although we can try our best to turn it around, the readily is that isn’t always possible. You can’t control if your bad morning was met by a bad afternoon of customer complaints, unhappy bosses, angry messages from your husband and failed report cards from your kids. In these cases, sometimes it’s best just to ride the wave. In that, we accept things as they are, especially those we can’t change in this moment. Taking a page out of the book of mindfulness, observing things as they are without judgment may not make the inherent situation better—but it can change the way we think about it. And, in turn, that can make us feel better 🙂
Summary on Turning a Bad Day into a Good One
It’s normal to have bad days—ask literally anyone. Although some days are just like that, most of the times, you can turn it around with simple actions. By carving out just a little time, you can do something that puts you on the track to a happier feeling. Try out the tips above to find your bad day go-to savior.