Essays & Confessions

5 Steps To Shake Off A Bad Day, Even If You Can’t Pinpoint What’s Wrong

By | Friday, June 02, 2017

I’m writing this after I had a weirdly bad day. It wasn’t one of those obvious bad days, it was just a quiet, gentle layer of stress and fear and doubt underneath everything new and exciting happening in life right now. To make matters worse, my small lil’ puppy choked on a treat this evening, and it left me feeling a little overwhelmed — like, if I can’t protect my child from choking on a Greenie, what the hell can I do? Ugh.

I felt sluggish and lethargic today, and the problem with being that way is that it makes the yucky, bad-day feelings even worse because I’m not taking any steps to get rid of them.

It got me thinking a lot about how I deal with my bad days. I’m a ridiculously emotional person at my core, and it is easy for me to quickly overreact, and let things ruin my day before even considering what part I can play in fixing the problem. When I think about what I do when I have a truly bad day, the honest answer is something like this: I think about what is bothering me, think about it some more, over-think about it, make myself more stressed, get upset about being stressed, get stressed about being upset about being stressed, and so on.

So I came up with a little list of tips to give myself when I have a shitty day that might help me shake it off and kick ass instead of letting the bad day take me down.

1. Don’t let it snowball.

If you can help it, don’t let the small pieces of your bad day snowball and make your day unbearably terrible. Try to deal with issues as they come to you, especially if you know the day ahead of you is equally daunting. I had a few issues this morning: one of them was that I was stressed because I didn’t know how to respond to a message I got from someone I work with. One of them was that I was stressed the painters in my apartment need another full day to work and I’m anxious to start unpacking. One of them was that my dog was causing trouble. One of them was that I still have lingering cold symptoms from an illness I had weeks ago. Each of these problems, separately, is basically nothing. It is embarrassing that I even call these “problems.” But since I let them snowball without taking some time to deal with each of them as they came up, the weight of the stress of these tiny problems felt huge.

2. Do something comforting.

My greatest comfort in the world has always been and always will be the same thing: watching Friends reruns. I grew up watching that show every day with my family, and it reminds me of being a little kid, laughing at the jokes I could understand and spending years trying to figure out the ones I couldn’t. Ever since age 11 when I had a nasty bout of the flu and my mom set me up in my bed watching Friends until I felt better, it has always been the first thing I go to for comfort when I’m feeling sad or unwell. Today, I crawled into bed at the end of my bad day and watched a quick episode on Netflix before I did anything else. The good news is that watching an episode of Friends is totally free, and only lasts about 25 minutes, so it works like a charm and still leaves me time for tip three:

3. Do something insanely productive.

I don’t usually write in the evening, or work on really anything for that matter. However, after having such a crummy day and feeling generally terrible at the end of it, I decided to get my mind off of things in the best way I know how: by channeling it into some creativity and productivity. I brainstormed creative ideas, worked on projects, and planned for future endeavors until midnight (on my laptop in bed next to a very passed-out Drew) and it made me feel worlds better. Working on something that inspires you and makes you feel awesome is the best way to kick crappy-day feelings.

4. Reach out.

You likely have a support system, and this is exactly what they’re here for. Sometimes you may just need someone to stroke your ego and tell you you’re great until you feel great again — and that is totally okay.

5. Put it behind you.

The worst thing you can do after a bad day is carry it over to tomorrow. Tie up all possible loose ends before bed, sleep it off, and start fresh in the morning. Once you’re well rested, and your mind has had some time to catch up and sort out everything that went on during the day, you might find yourself in a much better place about everything that worried you yesterday.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at!

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