Train on a standstill? Boss going off at you on a recent project? Stress levels feeling slightly elevated than usual? Or maybe you’re just having an all around sh** day. Whatever the reason is, we’ve all been there; rough days are inevitable and part of life. Some come in minuscule forms, while others make you feel like life is over. But just like adversity, we must embrace it; not shy away from it or worse, let it trample all over us. I compiled 10 ways to conquer a bad day that I feel can be effective regardless of situation. Let’s get started.
As stated in my article on coping with adversity, taking a chill pill and letting yourself breathe should ALWAYS be the first step to any trouble. Chances are you’re most likely either fired up, annoyed, or depressed; all of which cloud judgement and thinking. By clearing your mind and allowing yourself to focus on breathing, you can start to think straight. Now, when I say ‘breathing’, I mean conscious breathing; breathing that is slow, deep, and controlled. This type of breathing allows you to be in more control and relaxation, which leads to better decision-making.
Meditation can fall under this category, and to be frank, I highly encourage it. Even a 10-15 minute session with yourself can make the world of difference. But sometimes we may not have that time or it may not be of interest for some. In this case, calming your mind and focusing on breathing is vital.
2. Identify & Journal
While this may be painful at first, getting at the root cause of the issue can solve a lot of problems. Just like adversity, embrace it and conquer it. Once you’ve gained a clear mind through breathing, sit down and systematically go through the day.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- Do I know what the major issue(s) is(are)?
- What factors led to this?
- If I don’t know what directly affected it, do I know potential indirect factors?
- What are my next steps?
By going through a detailed process where you cover your tracks, you may find a culprit that you can focus on to deal with. Other times you may realize a pattern that you can start to fix if it’s affecting you negatively. Whatever the case, pull out the pen and paper and start to journal to accurately understand aspects you may be missing. This will allow you to help reorganize not only yourself, but your habits as well.
3. Break A Sweat
There are countless sources out there that will tell you the benefits of exercise towards stress and negative emotions; and rightly so. Mayoclinic boasts direct stress-relieving attributes on exercise through release of endorphins and improvement of mood through self-confidence gain. They even go to call exercise “meditation in motion”, which I honestly think is a fantastic and completely accurate description. Other benefits include sharper cognition through the endorphin release, a boost on self-esteem and long term boost in resilience. I can confidently validate this method as I implement it daily. While many individuals may have their respective stress-coping activities, working out is my stress-relieving time of the day. I pop my music on, close myself off from the external world, and focus on me, myself, and I, physically and mentally. If you’re having a rough day, get your body moving.
As Tony Robbins famously preaches,
Whether it’s a 10 minute calm walk, a jog around the park, or a full on weights session in the gym, get yourself to move; it will go miles for your internal state.
4. Engage In What You Love Or Enjoy
Exactly what the title says; do what makes you happy! If you enjoy reading a book to distract yourself, go read. If you like pouring yourself a glass of wine and watching your favorite TV show, go do it. There should be no heavy energy usage (unless its exercise of course) or mind complication that will add to your stress or negative mood. Focus on good vibes! Let this be your wind-down time where you get to enjoy hobbies or scenarios that put you in a state of content.
5. Accomplish Something Small
Not everything needs to be macro-scale for you to feel a sense of achievement or accomplishment; this is how individuals start to feel worthless or useless. When you anchor yourself to focusing solely on the final outcome or goal, you will never pride yourself through the process. But what about all the hard work, blood and sweat that went in during the way? What about all the obstacles you crushed through? That should deserve as much recognition and pride as completion of the goal does.
Start to think of micro-scale importance. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in an interview, discusses about his adolescence years on winning his first little trophies for certain weightlifting events and how tiny victories, when added up, can make a huge impact on your mentality and skill-set. “Little victories add up and that is what gives you ultimately confidence”, he states in the video (I’ve embedded the YouTube video for you guys to check out; it should begin at the correct part but if not, scroll to 05:35 of the video for the respective talk).
If finishing a 1-mile run is a sense of victory for you, go do it. If you consistently eat out, maybe try buying groceries and cook at home tonight. Try something new; get out of your comfort zone. If you usually spend 10 minutes reading a day, bump it up to 30 minutes and challenge yourself. I don’t care how tiny you may think it is; if it’s unusual for you, go try it out.
6. Remember The Bigger Picture
This somewhat ties into the above maxim but in reverse. When you’re having a rough day, try to remember why you’re doing this or why you started. We all experience hardship and obstacles through life; the key is to fighting through them by remembering the underlying reason were doing it at all. I like to use the analogy of an entrepreneur and a startup.
Entrepreneurs experience obstacles and haze everyday; better yet, they thrive on it. Whether the idea is pioneering or not, they are bound to experience a hefty amount of turbulence along the journey. But can you guess what usually gets them through the dark and gloomy days? The light at the end of the tunnel; the reason they began it in the first place. Their WHY as Simon Sinek likes to call it. Maybe its passion, maybe its financial freedom, or maybe its making an impact. Whatever it is, we should think the same way when we experience a rainy day.
7. Train Yourself On Positive Self-Talk
One of the most prominent Roman Emperors, Marcus Aurelius, once said
I cannot stress the validity of this quote enough. Self assurance and self-efficacy are crucial for not only personal success, but for your own well-being. The way you think directly impacts your behavior and actions. If you think you suck, guess what? You suck. If you think you’ll never get that promotion, guess what? Chances are, most likely you wont. It seems harsh but it’s reality.
This is where positive self-talk can be of major importance. It’s all about how you phrase things and what you tell yourself. Here are some common ‘negative’ sayings:
- “I can’t do this”
- “There’s no other way; it’s over”
- “It won’t work”
- “I’m not good enough”
Now, what if we changed all these to focus on a positive outlook; one where we are in control.
- “I CAN do this; and if I fail, I know I gave it my best effort”
- “Let me check alternatives. I’ll find a way”
- “It CAN work”
- “I’m confident in myself; I CAN do this”
Shifting thoughts to become positive can have immense impacts. Secondly, you start to rid yourself of an external locus of control, and shift over to an internal locus of control. For those who may not know what either of these are, here is a quick overview:
- External Locus of Control: Individuals who attribute their outcomes, success or failure, to outside sources and the environment around them.
- Internal Locus of Control: Individuals who attribute their outcomes, success or failure, on their own behaviors and actions.
We should always strive to be the latter; you are in control.
8. Talk To Someone
Social support is one of the greatest tools humans can utilize. Having another ear to listen and give their advice, or even having someone to rest your head on at times can go miles. Even if you pride yourself on being independent and not having to rely on others, understand that it’s okay to be vulnerable. Teamwork and synergy outnumbers individual impact in almost all situations. Asking for help should not be seen as weak or fragile. Speaking your thoughts and sharing your current emotions to someone who cares and “empathically listens” can shed a lot of weight off your shoulders.
9. Remember; Nothing Is Permanent.
As a practicing stoic, I wanted to shine light on this maxim. Whether or not you believe or practice stoicism doesn’t matter; what matters is understanding their viewpoint. Stoics focus heavily on mastering emotions but they also have a distinct anchor towards death and mortality. Regardless of stature, level of success, or any trait at all for that matter, at the end of the day, we all perish. Why such a dark and depressing phrase for an already negative manner you may ask? Easy. It puts you into perspective. Take Marcus Aurelius’ quote from below:
Death is inevitable; it may differ for every person, but it will happen. But that’s not what we should be gazed upon. We should be striving to accomplish wonders and be content in the NOW. Yes, rough days can dwindle us down; sometimes so far that we lose hope. But we must remember this is only temporary. We truly only have one life, so make it worthwhile and remember how precious it is.
10. Be Grateful.
This last one I take to heart and I practice every day; and it’s all about putting yourself into perspective. Everyday when you wake up, whether you’re religious or not, say “Thank You”. It doesn’t matter if something positive or negative has happened in the recent time frame; you still say it. Gratitude has been linked to several health benefits including improvement upon general outlook on life, reduction of negative emotions such as envy and depression, and even increases your physical health. A study done by psychologists Dr. Emmons & Dr. McCullough, had two groups write either sentences on what they were grateful for or what they were constantly irritated by, every week. After close to 3 months, the group that constantly wrote about gratitude were more optimistic, empathic, and had less visits to physicians than the group focused on irritations (I would highly recommend glancing through it).
The most important attribute that I believe gratitude gives us is the importance of making us appreciate the present. While we constantly thrive to grow and change through our life cycle, sometimes we get either bored or annoyed with aspects in life. Gratitude however, makes us see the implicit value of something. This, in my opinion, further leads to two great qualities:
- We take less for granted.
- We don’t come in with expectations.
Now, with all this said, without action, this renders useless. We must get in the habit of practicing in order to quench the benefits. Did you have a fantastic day yesterday? Say Thank You. Did someone tick you off so bad you wanted to sock them? Say Thank You. It’s easy to show appreciation when everything is going great. The true challenge comes when they’re not. Devote yourself to practicing gratitude every single day; the benefits are limitless.
I devoted a lot of thought and emotion into this so I truly hope you were able to take something away from it. If you ever have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact me!
Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed, please drop a like, comment and share so others can see as well! Much love!