What to Do When You Have a Bad Day

When you have a bad day, you need to know what to do (and what NOT to do) to get through the emotional ups and downs and turn the day in the right direction.

A couple days ago, I cried.  A lot.  Like six-times-over-the-course-of-a-day kind of a lot.

I still don’t know why or what was so messed up inside of me, but everything just felt “off.”  It was like Murphy’s Law was out to get me, and it seemed like everything was going wrong.  And I was pretty sure it was going to keep heading in the wrong direction.  Forever.  

Because that’s how it feels when you have a bad day.

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I wish I could tell you that every day of my life is filled with bunnies and roses, that I always have a smile on my face, and that I’ve learned to overcome every one of my personal shortcomings.  Oh, how I wish I could tell you that!

But telling you that would make me a big fat liar.

The truth is, my days are often filled with a dog who barks nonstop at imaginary dangers, piles of laundry that never go away, a To-Do List that’s longer than my arm, and the usual frustrations that come with parenting and running a home.  

Want even more truth?  Some days those normal, real-life situations make me cry.  

I think we all have days sometimes when everything just feels “off.”  (You have them, too…right?)

Whether it’s because of hormones, or not enough sleep, or an unusually difficult season we’re going through, some days the world seems a little cloudy, regardless of the weather outside.  Our kids grate on our nerves, our husband hurts our feelings (without even knowing it – poor guy), our normal chores seem oppressive, and the end of the day can’t get here fast enough.

As much as we’d like to avoid those kinds of days – and we really should try to steer clear of them – they come along from time to time, and we just have to push through them…or be crushed by them…the choice is ours.

I’ve learned that there are some things I can do (and NOT do) to make these troublesome days a little easier to survive.

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What To Do When You Have a Bad Day:

Do: Pray and read the Bible or an encouraging book.

Something happens inside when you take a few minutes to be quiet and fill your heart with good thoughts. Instead of seeing yourself as a victim of a bad day, your eyes will start to open to the purpose in your current situation.  And when you start to pray for other people, well, that really changes your perspective on how bad your day actually is (or isn’t).

Do: Drink water and have a healthy snack.

It’s amazing how dehydrated you can get without even realizing it.  When your body is hungry and thirsty, your mind gets foggy and grumpy. Be careful that you don’t sabotage yourself by trying to survive the day on empty. Fill up a water bottle and grab some veggies, a handful of nuts, or your favorite healthy snack.

Do: Rest.

There is nothing that can start your day on the wrong foot quite like insufficient sleep.  But even if you’ve reached your necessary sleep quota (lucky you!), you still might feel emotionally depleted from an overly busy schedule or a particularly stressful season.  Give yourself permission to take a power nap, relax with a book, or watch a favorite movie – whatever fills your tank.  

Do: Find a way to be productive. 

While it may seem counterintuitive, leaving your pity party long enough to fold the laundry, tackle a messy room, or make a special dinner just might be the thing you need to give you a boost. The sense of accomplishment will give you some energy and make you feel much better about yourself and your entire day.  

Do: Go somewhere…anywhere. 

It doesn’t matter if you go to the grocery store, a local coffee shop, or on a walk around the block, breathing the air outside of your house (and preferably away from it) often has the power to make life seem more bearable, and even enjoyable.  You get bonus happy-points if you actually interact with other people and offer up a smile to someone.  I dare you.

Do: Eat chocolate.

Honestly, sometimes you just need to retreat behind a closed door with a piece of chocolate, or whatever goody is your treat of choice.  When you’re caught in a cycle of “poor me,” doing something that makes you feel special can bring you back to the reality that you have a lot to be thankful for and you’re going to survive the day.

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What NOT To Do When You Have a Bad Day: 

Don’t: Look for the dark side.

If you look for something to complain about, you’re sure to find it.  That’s a fact.  Don’t go searching for the cloud behind every silver lining. Fight the darkness by looking for reasons to be thankful (those are also easy to find if you look for them). 

Don’t: Let your mind run wild. 

Be aware that when your mood is in the dumps, your mind will likely follow.  Don’t assume the worst about others or replay past hurts. Remind yourself that you might not be thinking clearly and tune out those ugly thoughts.  

Don’t: Do nothing. 

It’s great to rest when you need a break, but being lazy is a totally different thing.  Slumping in a chair while you think about how miserable you are – or how awful everyone else is – will only bring you down even more. Get up and do something that will make you feel better, or at least make your house look better.  What have you got to lose? 

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Don’t: Eat only junk.

While treating yourself with a little chocolate or a favorite coffee drink might brighten your spirits, stuffing yourself with junk food all day will only make you feel bad about yourself and leave your body bloated and begging for nutrition. Be intentional about treating yourself and leave the non-food in the pantry. 

Don’t: Become easily offended. 

Just like it’s easy to find something to complain about if you try hard enough, it’s also easy to find offense if you’re searching for it in every text or conversation.  Guard yourself against judging motives or reading between the lines.  Give others the grace you want them to offer you on a day like today.

Don’t: Make big decisions.

Don’t run out and cut off your hair, or change your cell phone plan, or send your kid to his room for the rest of his life.  Remember that your judgment might be just a tiny bit clouded when you’re caught up in the frustrations of a difficult day.  Give yourself a day or two to get back to your normal self before you make any life-changing decisions that you can’t easily change.

Remember That Tomorrow is a New Day

Take a deep breath and start counting your blessings.  Seriously, make a list.  You might be surprised by how many reasons you have to rejoice, even when you have a bad day.

Sure, this day may have chewed you up and spit you out, but it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a life of frustration and overwhelm. Tomorrow is a new day, and it will (hopefully) be a whole lot brighter.

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this blog! It is crazy how things come to you when you really need it. My dad was in ICU and is now still in the hospital (he went in the week before i was supposed to get married and that got postpones.) It has been two straight weeks of bad days for me and today when I thought I just couldn’t take much more your email came in with this blog. So i just wanted to say thank you! This really helped me. 🙂

  2. I needed this… somehow your posts end up in my inbox exactly when I need them. Seriously– they really do. Must be a God thing… I had a day like this yesterday and I sure wish I would’ve opened it then. Thank you…

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