Well-Being//

9 Strategies to Turn Even Your Worst Days Around

Your mental health deserves it.

jesadaphorn/Shutterstock
jesadaphorn/Shutterstock

We’ve all had off-days — whether it was because we got bad news, experienced something  frustrating, or simply woke up in a bad mood. Bad days can go one of two ways: either you continue to feel down or unbalanced throughout the rest of the day, or you do something that turns your day around. Either way, it can have a major impact on your mental health.

But a day that starts off in a negative way doesn’t have to continue like that: we all have the ability to change our perspective. We asked the Thrive community for their best tips for salvaging a bad day, and they had some really wonderful strategies. Here are some of our favorites:

Process what’s happening, then reframe it

“If I receive disappointing news, I have to sit with it without judgement so I can process it. Usually, the best way for me to turn around a difficult day is to practice gratitude by journaling, to set an intention to reframe the day, and some form or exercise outside if possible.”

—Susan J. Hilger, leadership and life coach, St. Petersburg, Florida

Give your day a new soundtrack

“When the day becomes bad, or more than I am happy handling, I have taught myself to briefly pull away, if not physically, at least mentally. Even in my office, I will find a brief moment to shut my eyes, relax my body and focus on my breathing. I empty out my mind until I feel the stress leaving my vibrations. I know many lyrics to songs being a musician, so I mentally find a song that will stimulate me in a more positive way, elevating my spirit and vibrations. Life can turn bad in the blink of an eye and having this kind of mini-routine to turn to helps me quickly and safely recalibrate myself.”

—Craig Dubecki, author, speaker, and musician, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Practice gratitude

“I used to have bad days all the time, and from time-to-time I still get them. But through the art of gratitude, I’ve found easy ways to shift the mood! For example, when I go to bed at night, I write down three things answering  three statements: 1) What am I grateful for today? 2) What am I letting go of today? 3) What am I welcoming in today? In doing that, I realise it’s not so bad, and can go to bed ready to start fresh again tomorrow!”

—Tash Pieterse, life and mindset coach, Auckland, NZ

Talk to other people who understand your situation

“We need to snap the mask and admit when we are in the midst of professional or personal troubles. Too many of us, especially entrepreneurs, clip on the ‘everything is OK’ face, and internalize our growing stress. What I have found that works for me is to speak of my concerns to others, especially fellow small business owners, who instinctively understand the trials and tribulations of business ownership. Voicing concerns, and having a shoulder to lean on and advise non-judgmentally, can ease the pressure significantly.”

—Jennefer Witter, CEO and entrepreneur, New York, NY

Symbolically start your day over

“I start my day over again no matter what time it is. I jot down what I’m grateful for and how I want to feel. Visualizing a giant whiteboard being wiped clean provides a fresh start with a clear head and an open heart. If it’s noon, there’s time to accomplish a lot with new cleared, recharged energy. If it’s 10 p.m., there might be just an hour to make progress on a project and feel productive. I shoot someone a message that I appreciate them, which boosts us both, and end my new day on a positive note.”

—Kelly Rudolph, certified life coach, San Diego, CA

Dance your cares away

“Entrepreneurs and those who work for themselves feel bad days especially acutely. Most don’t have colleagues around them to off-load to and get picked back. We must process the feelings and the darkness alone. When disappointment strikes me; a deal falls through, a client disappears, or I feel I’m swimming through treacle — I dance. We all know the benefits of movement, but nothing shifts my mood like dancing. I’m talking about cranking up your favourite song (a shortcut on my desktop) and moving your whole body; shaking your tail-feather till your lungs feel fit to burst…or about 30 seconds. You’ll be happier, giddy, and well and truly shaken off the dark mood, with your head and heart clear to go back in and do battle.”

—Lorna Reeves, wedding planner, London, UK

Watch a sad (yes, sad) movie

—Katie, blogger, Los Angeles, CA

“If I’m having a really bad day, one of my favorite things to do is to watch a classic tear-jerker film, like Dark Victory or Now, Voyager. Somehow, having a good cry refreshes me and allows me to reset my emotions.”

Spend time in nature

“I go out in nature, which I find very nourishing. I walk and dialogue out loud with my feelings to discover what I’m telling myself that is causing anything less than peace inside. I know that whatever I’m telling myself that is causing any upset is a lie, because the truth feels peaceful inside. Once I understand the lie I’m telling myself, I open myself up to asking for the truth and for what would be loving to myself. Then I follow through on whatever loving action I’m guided to take. I can move from feeling bad to feeling great within a very short time!”

—Margaret Paul, Ph.D., psychologist, Berthoud, CO

Book + beer + bar

“I like to take a book to a bar and read with a beer. I have heard some people find this unusual, but bartenders are some of the best company on a bad day and the ambient noise/other customers allow me to feel like I am not alone, but I can still read in peace. The more of a dive bar, the better, and be sure to bring something that will hold your interest (which for me means a good fantasy novel or other fiction). And if anyone asks, be honest: you’re having a bad day and needed a break. You might be surprised how many people share that feeling and will want to support you.”

—Gideon Dunster, doctoral candidate, Seattle, WA

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