Everyone has bad days. You know those days when you feel weighed down and tired and hopeless and you want nothing more than to go to bed and hope that you wake up the next day feeling better? One of those terrible days that you wish you could start over or skip entirely?
You know what I’m talking about. Everybody gets them. Some days just drag. They are emotionally difficult. Sometimes, there’s not even any particular cause or reason that you can pinpoint.
But guess what? Life goes on. Work has to be done. Kids got to get to school. The house has to be picked up. Dinner has to be made.
So what are you supposed to do when you are staring down an interminably bad day and all you want to do is crawl into bed and cry?
You take a deep breath.
Always start with that deep breath. And then you get through the rest of your day, one thing at a time. But before you resign yourself to a painful crawl to the finish line, try to reboot your day. I’m not gonna lie, it’s not always possible, but there are ways to shake yourself out of a moody funk, even when you don’t have much extra time.
What to Do When You are Having a Hard Day
Everything on this list is something that I have found helpful when I am having a hard day. These things that can have an almost instantaneous and drastic effect on your mood and energy level.
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed mental health professional. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or mental disorder.
Take a Nap
Try taking a nap. And we’re talking cat nap here, only about 20 minutes long. The right length will leave you refreshed.
If you take too long of a nap, you might feel groggy. That’s because if you nap for too long, you will start to slip into a longer sleep cycle. You can prevent this by setting an alarm to keep yourself from oversleeping. Or you can use this really cool trick I’m going to teach you that will make sure you sleep exactly the right length of time.
So here’s what you do:
- Lay down on a couch or the edge of your bed.
- Hold a pencil or pen in between the tips of your fingers on one hand and hang your arm over the edge of your sleeping surface.
- Your hand will automatically hold onto the pen UNTIL you start to slip into a deeper sleep and then your fingers will relax and drop the pen, waking you up.
NOTE – You must be holding the pen/pencil over a hard surface (so it makes noise), or this won’t work. Also, if you are very sleep deprived, you might sleep through it.
I’m always worried that I won’t wake up, but this trick has never failed me. And it wakes you up right as you are starting to slip into a deeper sleep so you get the perfect length nap – long enough to refresh you, but not long enough to make you groggy.
Stand on Your Head
Any sort of inversion will do here. And no, you don’t have to be a circus artist. The point is to get your head below the level of your heart.
You could do a handstand or headstand, either leaning against a wall or freestanding. Or you could lay on your bed and hang your head off the edge, or you can even lay on the floor with your hips propped up on a cushion and your legs leaning up against a wall. As long as your head is below your heart, you will get blood flowing to your brain.
Do it for as long as you can manage. But be aware that if you are doing the one where you are laying down with your legs stuck up in the air, you may doze off. It’s quite relaxing.
Go On a Walk
Get moving! Outside is best, but you can walk in circles around your living room if you have to.
Get your body moving, your blood flowing, and those endorphins pumping. I’m sure you have heard how wonderfully mood-enhancing exercise can be. And you don’t have to break a sweat to see some short term benefits like improved mood and clearer thinking. I know it can be hard to think about moving when you are having a terrible day, but just get started. One foot at a time.
Get Outside and Breathe
So maybe walking seems like a lot. I get it. Go outside, on your balcony or front porch or yard.
Close your eyes. Really pay attention to how your body feels.
What can you hear and smell? What does the air feel like on your skin? How does the ground feel under your feet? Are you standing still or are you swaying slightly?
Now take a deep breath in. Slowly. Really feel the air coming into your lungs and filling them up.
Let your breath out. All the way out. Blow out all of the air in your lungs.
Do this three times.
Now open your eyes and look around you. What do you see? Trees, cars, people? Just look.
Now turn around and go back inside. Get started with the rest of your day.
Sometimes you just need to force yourself out of your own head in order to move forward.
Write it Out
Get something to write with. I think handwritten is better, but if you prefer to type, that’s totally fine. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Now write. Don’t think, don’t edit, don’t stop. Just write whatever random gunk happens to come into your head. Don’t stop writing until the timer goes off.
Just give yourself a chance to get out all of those negative little thoughts that are chasing themselves in circles around your mind. And trust me, if you are having a bad day, you have plenty of negative thoughts running around your head, even if you aren’t entirely aware of them. You don’t need to go back and read any of it, and in fact, I think it’s better if you don’t. Get it out and leave it behind.
Take a Shower
It can be long and luxurious or a quick in and out. Just get into the running water.
Imagine everything that’s wrong about your day getting washed off of you and down the drain. At the end of your shower, turn the water as cold as you can stand it and dunk your entire body, head to toe, in the cold water. It’s super invigorating and really good for your health.
Close all the shades and turn the lights off if you have to. Turn on a song you really like or one that fits your current mood, or anything, and dance. Dance however you want. Dance stupidly or gracefully or sexy or jump around and wave your arms, but FEEL it. Feel the music and let your body move how it wants to. Get those endorphins flowing!
Talk to Yourself
Give yourself a little pep talk. Look in the mirror and tell yourself an inspirational quote or an affirmation.
When I’m having a bad day, it’s hard to think motivating thoughts, so I use ones that other people have come up with. I prefer quotes over affirmations for situations like this, but just use what works for you. Pick a quote or affirmation that always thrills you or moves you or inspires you. Something that really speaks to you.
Look yourself in the eye and say it. Out loud is best, but you can do it in your head if you really want to.
Do it multiple times! Let it sink in.
If you’re not feeling it, pretend you are. You can trick yourself into a better state of mind! Stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, put your hands on your hips. Act like you believe what you are saying.
Now go take that feeling and do something. Keep pretending if you need to. After 15 minutes, check back in with yourself. Are you still pretending? Or has your mental state shifted?
You Can Get Through a Terrible Day
Everyone has bad days sometimes. But you don’t have to grit your teeth and suffer through it. Just to recap, here are 8 different ways to reboot a terrible day:
- Take a nap
- Stand on your head
- Go on a walk
- Get outside and breathe
- Write it out
- Take a shower
- Talk to yourself