10 Ways to Make a Bad Day Better
For caregivers, for girls, for everyone
Some days just feel cursed. Big or small problems. Internal or external factors. You know exactly what we’re talking about. These are the mornings that start with stubbed toes and explosive emails and transition into afternoons of missed buses, tense conversations and spilt coffee. And just when you think the worst has passed, you slide into an evening with a surprise bill, mystery stomachache and phone call delivering rotten news. Where’s the fast-forward button when you need it?
Taking the good with the bad is, of course, part of being human. What is within our control, however, is how we choose to engage with ‘the bad.’ Our reaction and attitude toward a given situation can be up to us. Despite the circumstance, we can try to learn how to pivot to an empowering headspace even when things are falling apart. That’s where reliable tools, trusting relationships and meaningful activities are at their most pivotal. Also, that’s so many of the components of the GOTR mission come into play. Like the lessons we teach our girls – Stop and Take a BrThRR, we’re looking to you – the following tips are centered on reflecting, being intentional and taking charge of your emotions. You’re the main character after all. And not only that – you’re also the director calling all the shots.
Ready to get started? Check out these 10 ways to make a bad day better!
Play your favorite music (or create a new playlist)
- What tune always boosts your mood? What artist is your musical soulmate? On days that test you, seek out your favorite song or album and turn it up. Reflect on why this music consistently brings you joy. Is it the singer’s powerful voice? Is it the poetic lyrics? Is it the thumping beat and bass? Connect to the components that uplift you and give you goosebumps. Great art has the power to transform, especially in moments like this. Science agrees! Studies have found that, “listening to music you enjoy may increase the release of pleasure-causing substances in the brain like norepinephrine and melatonin. It may also decrease stress-causing hormone production in the body.”
Connect with nature
- Nothing centers you like the great outdoors. The beauty and majesty of the natural world is for us all. On bad days, it’s easy to look past it. Force yourself to step outside, go for a walk (if it’s possible and safe), feel the grass in between your fingers, or gather wildflowers for a friend. If you don’t have access to such nature, take a moment to roll down your window and inhale the fresh air. Acknowledge the trees or flowers in your neighborhood. Take a picture. Draw what you see. Engage with nature and remember just how vast the world is around you.
Turn up the cozy
- When things feel hard, increase the soft. Coziness is a major player in the world of self-care, and on bad days, self-care is a game-changer. Dimming the lights, lighting a few candles and snuggling close with your favorite blanket all qualify in our books. Fluffy socks complete the warm fuzzy look. Fancy accessories or gadgets are not required. Feel the texture of your blanket. Inhale the candle’s scent. Enjoy the warm tone of the soft lighting. And if you are fortunate to live with a fur baby, cuddle, cuddle, cuddle! Need more examples? Take an extra-long hot shower. Try a new fun-flavored soap. Wear a soft over-sized sweater. Sip an herbal tea.
Plan something fun or relaxing to do in the future
- Planning for great tomorrows helps minimize the effects of rotten todays. When we make plans, we regain control over our lives. A 2014 study discovered that, “having something positive to look forward to is a reliable and convenient way to induce positive emotions and to facilitate recovery from stress.” Meaningful plans can be as simple as looking forward to a great upcoming weather forecast or planning a videochat with a distant friend. It could include planning a date with yourself. Just pick a time and place and indulge in self-soothing activities, such as a favorite dessert or comedy special. On bad days, envision what exists on your good days. Intentionally carve out time for those very things.
Cook (or order) your favorite meal
- On a day when everything goes wrong, comfort food is so, so RIGHT. Every person’s comfort foods are unique to them. Do pierogis remind you of your grandma? Does a cup of chili kick your taste buds and mood up a notch? How about a bowl of your favorite cereal from childhood? (And slurping the sweet milk?) On bad days, treat yourself to these meals. If they inspire feelings of ease, happiness and contentment, go for it. If ordering and cooking your favorite food isn’t possible, you still have options! Try this: for your next meal focus on the flavors you enjoy the most, water intake and your breathing patterns. Combine your next meal with a thoughtful meditation.
Don’t deny your emotions
- Tear-up. Weep. Bawl. There’s no shame in letting it out. In a study from Harvard Health, researchers established that crying “releases oxytocin and endogenous opioids, also known as endorphins. These feel-good chemicals help ease both physical and emotional pain.” To move forward, we often need to have a good cry. For many people, crying is the first step in the healing process. Without it, they can have trouble gaining calmness and clarity. Just as we teach our GOTR girls at practice, remember, there are no wrong emotions. Emoting is a normal, healthy part of life that people should never apologize for.
Put pen to paper
- When BFF venting sessions aren’t available, a trusty notepad is an excellent (and effective) back-up option. Unloading a stream of consciousness into a journal helps transfer the weight of heavy feelings. Notepads come without judgement, so pour your heart out. You can even toss them in the trash when you’re done. Even doodling is effective in calming a mind that’s running in circles. Jotting down a gratitude list is a sure-fire way to gain some perspective and slow bad thoughts down. What’s most important is that you release what’s bothering you and avoid letting it fester inside.
Get busy with a craft or any hands-on activity
- Working with your hands does magical things to your mood. According to Susan Biali Haas M.D. of Psychology Today, “Using our hands may actually be key to maintaining a healthy mood, and a lack of this type of activity may contribute to feelings of irritability, apathy, and depression.” Have you ever found yourself cleaning as a distraction? Building something to pass the time? This is your mind’s way of seeking relief and pressing pause on overly complicated emotions. When we complete a hands-on project, there is an immediate sense of accomplishment. On bad days, get busy with a craft, recipe or cleaning project and watch your worries wash away.
- Movement IS medicine. Exercise is one of the best ways to boost a mood. Sometimes it takes discipline, but it’s always worth it. So, on rough days, dig deep and remember the benefits of getting up and at ‘em: endorphin rushes, deep sleep, increased confidence and decreased depression. With just a little bit of movement, things often start to look a little less hopeless. Use the hard parts of your day as fuel to your movement, then recognize how much your body does for you. Laser in on the muscle-mind connection. Celebrate your body’s power and its incredible capabilities.
Recognize that bad days happen (but they don’t last forever)
- Think of all the amazing leaders from history. Every single one has had off-days. Think of the most inspiring figure in your life. They too faced hardships even when they didn’t deserve it. No person experiences life without ups and downs. Just as those admirable figures got past the worst of it, so will you. By recognizing that bad days happen to everyone, you minimize their power and influence. Zoom in on the temporariness of those moments and recognize how much bigger (and better!) life is beyond them.
So, no matter how many rainclouds follow you or doors slam in your face, there’s always a chance to turn things around. It’s up to you. It may require concentration, practice and patience but it’s worth it. Don’t give up. Why? Because you deserve it. You deserve good days.