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Having a Bad Day? Here Are 3 Ways to Help You Cope

Topics: Career Advice

It only takes one bad day to derail you for the entire workweek, and unfortunately, they seem to crop up at the most inopportune times, like when you have a million project deadlines and other stressful things going on. If you happen to be having “one of those days,” then here are some ways you can change things around and make today a positive and productive one.


(Photo Credit: Manual Bahamondez H/Flickr)

1. Change Your Internal Dialogue

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The best way to turn a bad day around is to change your negative thoughts into positive ones. Of course, this is easier said than done, but it will be incredibly beneficial to you (and the rest of your day) if you’re able to accomplish this one task.

You may not realize this, but negative thoughts/situations cause your brain to kick into tunnel-vision mode. What this means is that you start focusing on one thing (typically something undesirable that’s happening in your day) and you lose focus of anything else (namely, anything positive).

As a result, you begin to ruminate on the negative, and you further worsen your bad day by sending yourself into a downward spiral of pessimism.

When this happens, “your brain closes off from the outside world and focuses on the negative emotions of fear, anger, and stress,” says author and public speaker James Clear in his article about the impacts of positive and negative thinking. He goes on to say that, “Negative emotions prevent your brain from seeing the other options and choices that surround you. It’s your survival instinct.”

In order to stop this nasty, unproductive chain of events from happening the next time you have a bad day, try to stop the negative thoughts in their tracks and turn your focus on something positive. You might need some help convincing your brain to switch from full-blown anger to happy thoughts, so try looking at pictures of your significant other, your kid(s), or a vacation that brings you joy. Escaping your office might do the trick, so try walking around the block while listening to upbeat music – because fresh air and sunlight does a body good.

2. Take Some “You Time” at Lunch

If the day’s got you down, then try stepping out of the office and taking a proper lunch by yourself or with some co-workers who will make you laugh. It’s estimated that 62 percent of Americans eat lunch at their desks and, more times than not, it’s because they believe it makes them more productive at work. Yeah, sure, eating over your keyboard every day may make it appear like you’re a dedicated, hardworking employee, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more productive – which is what really matters, right?

Not taking a lunch break could be the reason your work is suffering and resulting in you having more bad days than good days. Despite what you may think, stepping out for lunch is good for business and for your career. Research shows that your creative juices flow when you step away from the office for lunch, especially if you work long hours. It’s a great way to take yourself out of the environment that is causing negative emotions so that you can refresh and reboot for the rest of the workday. 

3. Do Some Soul-Searching

If bad days seem to plague your career, then maybe there’s more to your endless misery than a string of bad luck. It might be time do some soul-searching to get to the root of the problem – because, let’s be honest, there’s obviously something more severe going on, here. If this sounds familiar, then it’s time to get real about your job situation.

First, ask yourself if your unhappiness is due to having a terrible boss who makes your life a living hell. Second, ask yourself if you you’re being overworked and underpaid, because that would cause most people to be miserable. Figure what you should be paid by taking PayScale’s free salary survey to find out your true worth as a professional. If it turns out that you are being underpaid, then brush up on your salary negotiation skills and get the pay that you’ve earned and deserve.

The reality is, experiencing a bad day here and there is part of being human, but it’s when those bad days start happening frequently and costing you your career that it becomes a problem. If you know how to cope with the occasional bad days, you can keep them from turning into a bad career.

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Leah Arnold-Smeets
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