Bad days. The days when everything seems to go wrong. The times when you can’t seem to crack a smile. When you wake up frustrated, when the electricity goes off before you’ve had your morning coffee, when there’s construction on your morning drive and you end up late to work, when someone treats you horribly, when you have an argument with a loved one, when you get life changing bad news and you can’t focus on anything else…
You’re having a bad day.
They happen to us all!
Recently, I had a long string of bad days. My dog has an eye condition that was giving him a lot of problems (and giving my husband and I a lot of sleepless nights). And everything in the house seemed to be breaking. We’ve had a lot of family changes going on and quite a few tense situations between people we care about.
The days were getting really tough for a minute. And for a minute, I completely let it consume me. I was upset, foggy-brained, lacking focus, but filled with tension.
Until I remembered that my life circumstances don’t get to control my emotions. Until I remembered that who I am is not determined by what’s going on around me. Until I remembered that how I feel is always my decision. Until I remembered that have the right and responsibility to take care of myself, to make myself feel loved and special and important. Until I remembered that I always have the tools to turn my bad day into a good one - yes, no matter what’s going on.
I decided to be happy. With my injured pup. With my frustrated husband. With my in-laws who are moving in with us. With my business. With my writing. With my minimal free time. With myself. Because why not?
If I want to be happy, I’m going to be stubbornly happy. I’m not letting anyone or anything take it from me. My happiness is independent. It isn’t defined by success or money or meeting external expectations. My happiness comes from my higher self - the part of me that sees the bigger picture. The part of me that understands why I came to this planet. The part of me that trusts. The part of me that is just so excited to be alive and to experience things and to interact with others.
Listen, there is never anything bad enough to let it take your light. There is never anything bad enough to take your inner sunshine. There is never anything bad enough for you to justify choosing fear and anger over love. Love yourself enough to turn your bad day around! Don’t wait for someone else to pull you out of your bad day. You have the power. Choose bigger. Choose better. Choose yourself.
So today, I’m sharing with you some of my favorite ways to choose love in my life when my days start feeling challenging.
When you start doing these things, you will probably still feel upset. As long as you’re focusing on the same perspective about the same situation, your bad mood will remain. Instead, allow yourself to see the beauty in the mundane. Allow yourself to pick your thoughts just like you pick your clothes. Stay in the present moment with the activity you decide to jump into. Allow yourself to choose joy in your situation. Find the one thing that makes you smile and do not let it go. Immerse yourself in joy.
Hopefully something on this list is one of those things that can bring a smile to your face. I hope you can return to this post any time you have a bad day to remind yourself that bad days only last if we want them to.
1. Take a long shower.
Water heals. The sound, the feeling, the fluidity… it all reminds us that life is ever changing and flexible. It’s also just a really great physical sensation! When our minds are wrapped up in frustration, it can be soothing to do something to relax your body.
2. Watch something funny.
What happens when you watch a movie or a stand up show? If you like it, you typically begin to identify with the main character or the performer. You see yourself and your life through their perspective. You often times will attempt to put yourself in their shoes. And when we do this, we release the things that have been bothering us. We can inhabit a completely different space. And sometimes, this is all we need in order to let go of whatever was getting us down.
3. Play with a pet.
Pets are unconditional love. That’s all they are. The unconditional love runs through their veins, and then they give that to you through some type of super cute osmosis. Even though my dog has been having a hard time with his eye, he’s still the most loving little guy. And every time I see him, I am so filled up with joy. Play with your pet. Let them love you. Let them share their happiness with you.
4. Doll yourself up.
When was the last time you got all dressed up? When was the last time you felt H.O.T? I’m willing to bet it wasn’t five minutes ago… and if that’s the case, you’re just in time! Spend some time pampering yourself. When we feel good on the outside, we often times get an instant life in our mood.
5. Spend time in nature - somewhere you haven’t been in a while.
When we change our surroundings (and add in some fresh air) we give ourselves a little wake up call. We’re reminded that the world is more than our everyday stomping grounds. We’re reminded that beauty is all around us. We’re reminded that there are creatures on this planet who still remember how to simply exist - going about their day based on gut instinct and inspired action.
6. Start a new hobby - something you’ve never done before.
Learning something new - something you’ve always wanted to try requires your entire being. It asks you to empty your mind, and focus completely on one task. If you’re having a bad day and you decide to take a couple minutes (or more) to practice skateboarding, or playing the guitar, or weight lifting… you’ll have very little space left in your mind to think about how horrible your day has been.
7. Make a happy day music playlist - and actually listen to it.
Music is an instant mood elevator. It’ll take you up a few levels if you listen to the right songs! And what’s right for you is anything that makes you feel good. Don’t eliminate any genres just because other people think they’re negative or sad or draining. You might feel differently about a slow love song than someone else - the love song might completely energize and inspire you.
Whatever makes you feel ready to take on the world, put that song on! 90s gansta rap does it for you? Turn it up! Feeling like you’d rather blast a slow love song? Go for it! Play your song on repeat or find a couple more songs that give you the same feelings. Listen to it in your car, while you’re cleaning, when you shower, while you’re grocery shopping… listen to your happy day music playlist any time you can!
8. Commit to a social media detox.
We all know the potential downsides of social media. Too much social media watching with the wrong attitude and perspective can really shake up our self-esteem and our ability to stay mindful and present with ourselves.
Sometimes we’ve overdosed on social media and we don’t even realize it. We wonder why we feel sluggish and upset and frustrated and rushed. And we can’t put the pieces together - maybe we’re feeling that way because we just spent three hours looking at our 3rd grade classmate’s cousin’s destination wedding in Bali. We’ve seen what a million strangers ate for lunch, that our co-worker just got a promotion, and that this youtube has a brand new video up talking all about how to lose belly fat in two seconds.
We have to stop doing this to ourselves. When we’re exposed to the events of everyone else’s lives it can be challenging to stay committed to your own self-love practices. Our minds automatically shift into judgment mode - determining if what we’re seeing is good or bad, and then assigning a reason to that judgment. It’s good because we’d like to do that same thing for ourselves, or it’s bad because what someone else is doing doesn’t match up with our own values. My goodness I’m feeling tired just talking about this whole process - so when we engage in it on a daily basis, it can really drain our energy.
Take a break from social media. Don’t reach for your phone first thing in the morning. And if you’re already having a difficult day, try not to binge on Instagram or Facebook if you know it can be problematic for you.
9. Remember the good times - and recall how many bad days you’ve experienced that have gotten better.
If you’re breathing, if you’re reading this you’ve experienced a challenging day, a tough experience, a sad moment, a time you thought you’d never recover from… and you got through it. You found a way, you discovered a resource, you developed a mindset, you toughed it out, you loved yourself through it… and you came out on the other side much stronger, much more confident, and much more powerful. If you’ve done that in the past, know that you can and will do it over and over again in your life. Whatever is happening in your life right now, it will be solved. It will transform. It will change. And you will always become a better person because of it.
10. Dance it out.
Remember that happy music playlist from earlier? When you put it on, dance! Move your body however you want to. Express the feeling of the song through your movement. Release the rigidity and tension. It might help to pretend like you’re five years old again, doing whatever movement comes timing instead of thinking your way through “how” to dance. Have fun with it!
11. Find your silver lining.
Shifting our perspective about a situation is a powerful positivity tool that we all have at our disposal during every second of every day. If you’re having a difficult day, ask yourself “What am I learning or discovering in this situation?” “How would the best version of myself handle this moment?” When we assign positive and progressive meaning to a tough situation, it makes the situation feel worth it for us. All of a sudden we’re able to get through it because we know what we’re gaining from the experience.
12. Journal - Journaling is a really powerful way to release your negative emotions, to vent without getting bogged down, and to learn to transform your negativity into boundless positive energy.
Journaling gives us the opportunity to really explore answers to questions like the ones up above in #11. We can explain and explore our way through what we’re learning. We can record our feelings, lessons, and epiphanies as we go - returning to our journal when we discover new things or change our minds about our perspective. Journaling offers us the ability to see how far we’ve come, it lets us release the pent up frustration, and give it a makeover. It lets our brain work through an issue in its entirety instead of holding it all in your mind until it bubbles over.
I compare it to a great scheduling system or calendar. If you try to hold everything you need to do for the week in your mind at once, you’re probably going to feel scatter-brained, anxious, frustrated, forgetful and unsupported. But if you have a calendar, schedule, or some kind of checklist - all of a sudden your mind has space to work on other things because you’re not focused on tiny details like what time you needed to be at your OB-GYN appointment. Journaling works the same way, when you put your ideas, feelings, and emotions on the page, when you really work through the things you tell yourself all day long, you no longer have to hold onto it.
Journaling helps you feel supported. Your mind begins to put pieces together, it build and understanding of the world around you, and you become free to use your energy elsewhere. Your mind isn’t trying to put the pieces together all day long.
Start your journaling practice with this:
The journal has the questions, but you have the answers.
13. Go swimming.
Enjoy the feeling of weightlessness. Float and let yourself be supported by the water. If you can’t go swimming, take a bath. if you can’t take a bath, soak your feet! Find a way to submerge some part of your body (especially a part that holds a lot of tightness) in water.
14. Go test drive or rent your dream car.
If you’re having a bad day, maybe you need to get yourself far away from the situation, people, or mindset that you’re upset about. Test drive your dream car instead of wracking your brain. Be 100% present and truly enjoy the moment. It’s not everyday that you go test drive or rent a car (usually), so when you do it might register as a really special event in your mind. Allow it to be special. Allow yourself to do something far outside of your comfort zone that will help you feel luxurious and excited.
15. Schedule a night out for yourself (and maybe some loved ones).
Give yourself an event to look forward to - not something that’s attached to another person’s plans. No birthday’s, no celebrations. Put together a completely random, for-no-reason, night out. Celebrate being alive. Celebrate the fact that you can celebrate. You don’t need a reason to be happy, you can plan something to look forward to just because it would make you feel good.
16. Let go of what other people think, and actually get clear about what you want for yourself.
Sometimes we decide we’ve had a bad day because of what someone else said or did. Become relentless in your quest for self-respect. No matter what anyone says, you have to respect yourself enough to commit to your own vision. Commit to your path. No one has the right or the ability to make you feel bad without your consent. Refuse to give consent. Don’t care. Decide, right now, that all other perspectives will be weighed against your own - and unless you think what someone else has to offer is that valuable, you’ll always go with your gut. Do what feels right and good and beautiful to you. People will judge you and your actions, but you don’t always have to absorb their feedback.
17. Smile anyway.
Remember that even when you’re having a bad day, you always have the ability to smile anyway. Superwoman pose it up. Take notice of your posture. Do yoga. Life weights. Go for a jog. Move your body and your facial expressions in a way that makes you feel regal and powerful and joyous.
18. Focus on what you want.
Think about where you’re headed. Look at the bigger picture. Sometimes our bad days come from the fact that we’re focused too intensely on the tiny details in front of us. We can call any event in our life a tiny detail. Anything from being overcharged at a restaurant to being sick to being dissatisfied with where you are in life in general… we can decide that it’s all small stuff. We can decide that in the big picture, every day we’re alive is an exploration and an investigation. We get to discover new things, solve problems, experience a wide range of emotions, and interact with diverse groups of people if we want to.
And if something isn’t working out, there’s so much life ahead of you that you have no idea about just yet. So instead of choosing to focus on the things that are frustrating to you right now, focus on hope. Focus on growth. Focus on experiencing. Focus on your excitement. Focus on what you want and who you want to become.
19. Stand at a place that feels like the edge of the world for you.
For me, thats always wherever the water meets the shore. (I'm a Pisces, can you blame me?) For you this might be at the top of a mountain or hill, it might be at the end of a hike, it might be a place where you can see all of the lights in your city, or it might be just sitting in your living room surrounded by your family. Find a place where you can feel the fullness and expansiveness of the world around you. Find a place where you can grasp that the world is so much bigger than the ins and outs an struggles and conflicts of our daily life. Sit there for as long as it takes. Sit until you feel your emotions shift. Sit until you know that everything is working itself out in divine timing. Sit until you can trust that even when you don’t understand or like what’s happening, you know that the beauty of the future is that you never know what gifts are around the corner.
20. Cook a new recipe. (Or bake something delicious).
Cooking a new recipe takes you out of your head and into the kitchen! Even if you think you’re not so great at cooking, give it a try anyway! Learning something new, making yourself focus on whats right in front of you, and making sure you don’t accidentally chop off a finger in the process will help you train your mind to stay in the present moment and allow all of your worries soften and dissipate. And this one comes with an extra bonus… at the end of your cooking experiment you’ve got a yummy treat to snack on!
21. Give yourself a mani & pedi & a cooling face mask.
Or do something to pamper yourself. I’m specifying to do it yourself because when someone else is doing it for you, your mind has more time and space to wonder off… typically right back to your stressors and frustrations. So creating a DIY spa day on your own will keep your mind occupied while soothing your body!
22. Read a book or blog or listen to an audiobook/podcast that offers a brand new perspective.
Spend as much time as you need doing this! If you’re not trying to multitask while reading or listening, try taking notes! Write down your reactions to what you’re reading or listening to, and jot down snippets of any information or insight the resonates with you. This way, you can go back to it quickly, and you’ll remember it better because you put it down in your own words.
23. Take a drive with no planned destination.
Your intuition knows where you should go. You’ll probably end up in a place that gives you the exact feeling you need in the moment. Trust, let go, and drive!
24. Turn each of your negative beliefs or worries into a positive one.
Another job for the journal! Write down each one of your worries, each thing that makes today so challenging for you, and look at it from a new perspective. If you’re upset because your friend isn’t talking to you, maybe you decide that you needed a break from speaking anyway. Maybe after taking a break you two will be able to come together again with renewed energy and respect for one another. If you’re having a bad day because your pet’s sick (I just worked through this one myself), maybe you decide that this is a great opportunity to show your furry sweetheart some extra love and attention. Maybe you decide that you’re grateful for the chance to help make your pet feel extra comfort and protection. Write down your bright side. Force yourself to see the other side of the problem you’re facing - the side where you become thankful for the “bad” day… and maybe you even begin to see it as a good dat after all.
And if you’ve tried all of the above and your day is still not going so well, and you’re still upset, and you can’t seem to shake the bad day blues, forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for having a bad day. Let it go. Accept that the day wasn’t what you’d hoped for, and have a little compassion for how you’ve handled things to the best of your ability. Forgive the day for being so difficult, and know that the sun will rise again tomorrow. You will get another shot. You will wake up stronger and more capable and more experience than you were today. And no matter what happens tomorrow, you’ll always know you made it through today.