7 Ways to Tackle a Bummer Day
From a case of the Mondays to something more serious like a death in the family, bummer days happen and they’re a part of life. But when nothing is going right in the first place, a bad day can take you from zero to full-on stressed and raging in a matter of seconds! I look at moments like this as an "emotional downward spiral" that can lead us to think of every single challenging thing that is currently happening in our lives, might happen in the future, or has already happened—leaving us feeling hopeless and helpless.
So, how do you cope when you’re faced with all of life's problems, big and small, in the same day? When you’re at the end of your rope and don’t know how to handle it? Here are seven ways to turn your day around when you feel like the whole world is against you.
1. Disconnect from the problems, connect with the present moment.
Take a physical (if you can) or mental break- come up for air! If you’re in a situation where you can’t walk away, try to practice mindfulness to get through what you need to. Concentrate on your breathing or on the task at hand rather than the emotions surrounding it. For example, if you feel overwhelmed because you have a million and one tasks on your to-do list, complete the next task on the list, say folding laundry, without thinking about anything else. Focus your mind on folding the towels, sorting your clothes, appreciating that you are able to afford clothes, feeling thankful that you are doing something that will help you feel more organized and stress free!
2. Give Yourself Five
This is another approach to practicing mindfulness. If you are really in a panic, give yourself five: name five things you can see, five things you can hear, touch, smell, and taste. This forces your mind to stop racing, slow down, and be present. Like with number one, this is a mental trick to help you regain your focus and put yourself at ease.
3. Take a walk outside, or a jog, or a run!
As I've discussed in a previous blog, going outside and getting fresh air can do wonders for your health and add years to your life. Feeling the sun on your face can do a lot for the spirit when you're stressed. Not only is it good to simply be outside, but taking a brisk walk is good for your health and is scientifically proven to boost your mood. Exercise causes your body to release chemicals called endorphins which react with brain receptors that actually reduce our perception of pain.
If you can, go for a walk in nature and behold all of life's beauty. Wherever you go, take in your surroundings and appreciate them. Notice the sounds the trees make when the wind hits them, count how many different flowers you see, let the sounds of children playing remind you of fond childhood memories. Take deep breaths and get your heart pumping, this moment is for YOU, enjoy it.
4. Talk it out
In times of stress and trouble, having a team of supporters can make all the difference. Even the most strong and independent people can use the support of others when times are tough. Reach out to friends and family, clergy, or members of your community when you're struggling. One thing to remember is the importance of asking for help when you need it, which is easier said that done. When we go through dark times, we tend to feel that we are alone, and our view of the world gets clouded. It's easy to get bogged down by the negativity and shut even our close friends and family out- don't let yourself go there. Most people don't know when you're having a bad day because they are busy dealing with their own struggles. So go ahead, reach out, call a friend: they can be a great sounding board or problem solver, or they can just help turn a bad day around!
5. Treat yourself
When you are away from the bummer, if you can catch a break, relax and treat yourself. Go to the movies, the spa, a theme park. Go for a walk in the park or people watch downtown. Curl up with a new book or a good show on TV. Make yourself a yummy snack (just be aware of your health limits and avoid unhealthy behaviors like binge eating!). Do a hobby you enjoy, like knitting, model-making, painting or drawing.
6. Write it out, or draw it out
Keeping a diary or a journal can be very therapeutic and can help you reason out problems by getting them out of your head and onto a page! You don't have to be a professional writer to keep a journal, and you don't have to write in it every night. Forget grammar and spelling, just write down whats in your head and heart. My eldest cousin ends her days with a comic strip drawing of her day or a particular part of her day.
When I've written about a bad day in my journal, it sometimes leaves me feeling "icky", so I end my entry on a positive note. I write 3 things that I was thankful for today and 3 things I am looking forward to tomorrow!
7. Get professional help
If you're finding that you're having more bad days than good lately, especially if you find it difficult to concentrate, lose interest in everyday activities, feel “down” all the time, or are having pervasive, racing, negative thoughts, it may be time to see a counsellor. Therapy is no longer meant only for "sick" or mentally ill people. More and more large companies even pay to have on-site counselors for their employees, or at least offer EAP (employee assistance programs) which connect employees to mental health counselors for employees going through rough times.
If you’re hesitant to do so, think of this: if you had a bad cold, wouldn’t you treat it? And remember, if you are beginning to think of hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 800-273-8255 or 800-273-TALK. They are available 24/7 to listen to you and help you!
How do you fight the funk?
Everyone experiences bad days once in a while, that's what makes us human. But how we cope with bad days is different from person to person, or culture to culture. It never hurts to learn how others cope with bad days. I look at it as adding another tool to your emotional toolbox. So, what are your personal methods for dealing with bad days? What has worked for you in the past or hasn't worked?