We all have lousy days. You know the kind I mean — problem clients, cranky co-workers, bad evaluations or personal life stress collide and make for a really epic bad mood (and for some reason it always seems to be raining). So what can you do when the universe seems to conspire to make your life unpleasant? Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, comes to the rescue with tips, and not just two or three. On her blog she offers a whopping 12 ways to deal with a terrible day (which is good, sometimes you need all the help you can get.)
Resist the urge to “treat” yourself. Often, the things we choose as “treats” aren’t good for us. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt, loss of control, and other negative consequences just deepen the lousiness of the day.
Do something nice for someone else. “Do good, feel good” – this really works. Be selfless, if only for selfish reasons.
Distract yourself. When my older daughter was born, she had to be in Neonatal Intensive Care for a week. I spent every hour at the hospital, until my husband dragged me away to go to an afternoon movie. I didn’t want to go, but afterward, I realized that I was much better able to cope with the situation after having had a bit of relief.
Seek inner peace through outer order. Soothe yourself by tackling a messy closet, an untidy desk, or crowded countertops. The sense of tangible progress, control, and orderliness can be a comfort.
Tell yourself, “Well, at least I…” Get some things accomplished. Yes, you had a horrible day, but at least you went to the gym, or played with your kids, or walked the dog, or recycled.
Exercise is an extremely effective mood booster – but be careful of exercise that allows you to ruminate. For example, if I go for a walk when I’m upset about something, I often end up feeling worse, because the walk provides me with uninterrupted time in which to dwell obsessively on my troubles.
Stay in contact. When you’re having a lousy day, it’s tempting to retreat into isolation. Studies show, though, that contact with other people boosts mood.
Things really will look brighter in the morning. Go to bed early and start the next day anew. Also, sleep deprivation puts a drag on mood in the best of circumstances, so a little extra sleep will do you good.
Remind yourself of your other identities. If you feel like a loser at work, send out a blast email to engage with college friends. If you think members of the PTA are mad at you, don’t miss the spinning class where everyone knows and likes you.
Keep perspective. Ask yourself: “Will this matter in a month? In a year?”
Write it down. When something horrible is consuming my mind, I find that if I write up a paragraph or two about the situation, I get immense relief.
Be grateful. Remind yourself that a lousy day isn’t acatastrophic day. Be grateful that you’re still on the “lousy” spectrum. Probably, things could be worse.
Who said? Jessica Stillman said ;).