Sunday, November 20, 2011

5 Steps to Turn Around a Bad Day

Not all days start off well, and sometimes you just end up having a bad day.
But there are ways to turn it around!

Days can turn out bad for different reasons and therefore have different solutions. In this article, however, I’d just like to share five general steps I often use to change my thoughts and emotions during a bad day. Going through these steps usually allows me to change what's inside me, which then allows me change the day for the better.

1. Think.

The first step when having an unmotivated/sad/tiring day (or a day where you wind up in one or more negative situations) is to use your mind. How? Well, start by trying to see it from a better and more helpful point of view - by using questions!

You can ask yourself questions like:

  • Will this matter 5 years from now?
  • Who cares?
  • What can I learn from this situation?
  • What is the opportunity in this situation?
  • What is one small action, one small step, I can take to start turning this day or situation around?

2. Use your body.

If I can’t think myself out of the situation, I work with my body instead. I work out with free weights for maybe 30 minutes, and inner tensions lift from my body and mind. A pessimistic point of view tends to get replaced, and I feel more powerful, energetic, positive and focused when I am done.

3. Accept what is.

It's a natural impulse to try to deny negative feelings or thoughts when they show up in your life - perhaps you try not to think about them, perhaps you try to push them away, or even tell yourself that you need to focus like a laser beam on the positive things by using the questions from step #1.

However, I have found out that in many cases it is actually better to just accept that the negative feelings and thoughts (or whatever is left of them after having worked through steps #1 and #2) are here right now.

I know it can be hard to convince yourself that this is a good solution since all you want is to deny or reject whatever it happening, but by accepting that you feel this way you stop feeding more energy into negative thoughts - you stop making them strong! And after a few minutes of fully taking them in and accepting that they are here, they should start losing steam and fading away, leaving you able to think clearer.

4. Tap into gratitude.

To tap into gratitude can be helpful too, perhaps not when you are having a really bad day (or at least not right away, if you feel shocked or totally overwhelmed), but after a while, when things start to seem less dramatic .

Your pain and sorrow can, in retrospect, be a gift because they expand your spectrum of human experience, understanding and emotions. You become more grateful because of them - they carve deeper into you, and the deeper they carve, the more joy you will be able to contain in the future. Basically, it is fair to say that the bad times can help you to enjoy and appreciate the good times even more.

But that is not all! I have found out that when I have a pessimistic mood, or low energy, or no motivation (or all of them!), that allows me to think differently about things: my lowest days often turn out to be some of my most creative days!

So these days may not feel good, but they sure seem less frightening when you think that they can bring you some positive things, based on how things have turned out in the past when you were in the same situation.

5. Just be with your day.

This last step is more like a reminder if you can’t seem to get the steps above to work, but it can also be another great way to tap into acceptance and help yourself push through the bad times.

Life is not perfect or positive or awesome at all times, and although you can try and replace unhelpful habits with better ones, and raise the percentage of times you can handle things in a better way - both in your everyday life and when big things happen - there will always be natural valleys and peaks in life....

... and a bad day will sometimes just be a bad day. 
And that's OK - that’s life!

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