A couple years ago on a particularly gloomy day I found a book on the sidewalk that someone was giving away, it was the best seller that has since become a book you’ve probably seen everywhere: The Happiness Project. I wrote a blog post over on Kate Asana a year ago about an element in the book that related to yoga.
I get daily emails of inspirational quotes from the author’s blog. (If you want to see my own collection of inspirational quotes, check it out here on Pinterest)
She recently posted 13 tips for dealing with a bad day, here are the ones that I like the best, and some of my thoughts:
1. 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.
I get what she’s saying, buyers remorse, or the guilt that comes for over indulging in in a bad habit, but for someone like be who always has an inner monologue of “you probably don’t need that” a little treat when you are feeling lousy does feel good, and besides a “treat” for me means a glass of wine or a cupcake or maybe a $20 purse, it’s not like I’m ordering bottle service or buying $500 shoes.
2. Do something nice for someone else. “Do good, feel good” – this really works. Be selfless, if only for selfish reasons.
I can totally get behind this one and so can science (in a study, people who were given $20 to spend on someone else were happier than those who had $20 to spend on themselves). It feels great to do good things, who cares what the motive is.
3. Distract yourself. At the worse times in my life (death of family, loss of jobs, break ups) I have needed to cry, to yell, I have needed someone to listen to me, but I have also needed someone to make me laugh and watch TV with. Yes, ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away, but your brain and nervous system needs a break.
4. Seek inner peace through outer order. and 5. Tell yourself, “Well, at least I…” and 6. Exercise is an extremely effective mood booster. I think these three go together, since they are all essentially saying the same thing: when you feel like you have no control, do something that you do have control over: cleaning, running, cooking. -Exercise is a great one because it occupies your whole body and you’ll feel better about yourself after.
7. 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. So try to see or talk to people, especially people you’re close to.
This is one of the great things about being married/living with a loved one–you have a built in person that will listen to and care about your day and your feelings. You get to talk it out, then you can retreat to the bed or bathtub and have your alone time.
8. It’s a cliché, but 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.
Sometimes the best thing to do with a bad day is end it ASAP.
9. Remind yourself of your other identities. If you feel like a loser, an idiot, a failure, etc, all of those things that everyone (me) feels about themselves (myself) sometimes, it’s helpful to remember the areas of our lives that we aren’t currently screwing up–my nephew for example thinks I’m pretty awesome.
10. Write it down. Sometimes it helps to just get it out, you can always delete it or throw it away, or dramatically burn it after.
11. Keep perspective. and 12. Be grateful. Remind yourself that a lousy day isn’t the end of the world. Chances are that this won’t matter in a month/year/ decade, you might not even remember it. And if you do, it might make for a great story once you have some distance. Probably, things could be worse. In fact things could (almost) ALWAYS be worse.