You know. The one where nothing truly catastrophic happens, but you seem to have a dark cloud hanging over your head. I feel like Charlie Brown. “Good grief!”
So what do you do with those days? Luckily, they tend to be fewer and farther between as we work on improving our attitudes and becoming more self-aware. Yet, in some ways it seems like the bad days hit much harder when we are no longer accustomed to them. They sneak up on us, catching us by surprise sometimes.
It feels like the calendar should have a warning label on days like today, or a forecast.
“Tomorrow’s forecast calls for mild disappointment accompanied by showers of self-doubt and a brief but intense down-pour of career anxiety. Things will clear up
briefly in the afternoon, just in time for the winds of change to dust up a twister or two chock full of worrisome inconveniences before bedtime! Be sure to carry your yoga mat, because you’re gonna need it!”
Yep. It was THAT kind of day, and while I handled myself well and didn’t go into a tailspin— something that would most definitely have happened a few years back, this day was NOT fun.
Right now I am waiting for the rice to cook so I can feed the dog I am taking care of for a friend, the after effects of his having gotten into his dietary supplements and snacked on the whole bottle, complete with a call to poison control and letting his owner know what happened (Ugh). Unfortunately that was merely the finale to what had already been a rather challenging day!
So while I wait, I am taking a moment to reflect about what I handled well today, what was preventable, and how lucky I am that things weren’t worse. Of course, the whole point to reflection is learning— NOT wallowing! So it seems fitting to share the useful bits that result from such a recap.
Here are a few ideas for dealing with “those” days when the calendar laughs at you like Dr. Evil at his smarmiest and the bluebird of happiness seems intent on pooping on your windshield instead of singing you a nice little tune.
1) Don’t skip your healthy habits! On “those” days, be sure not to abandon whatever it is that keeps you grounded. As frustrating as this day was, if I had not meditated and gone to a yoga class, I most definitely would have blown things WAY out of proportion. If there is something that keeps you sane, like running or music or yoga, rearrange the calendar to squeeze it in, even if only for a short time. Bad days become dismal days when we aren’t grounded.
2) Try to be in the present, not the past or the future. Part of my problem today was worrying about the future and regretting the past. I admit it. I am as flawed as the next guy in this respect, but none of us has the time to wallow in what used to be or spin our wheels over what might happen later. Those kinds of preoccupations can keep us from doing what we need to do in the here and now and they can prevent us from hearing it when opportunity knocks.
3) Without whining, reach out to a friend. You can call a friend to check in and just focus on how that person is doing. Send some love and light out into the world and it will come back to you. Focusing on someone who makes us happy and wishing them a good day lifts you both up, and they never need to know you were having a rough day at all. Engaging with others without complaining about our own issues is empowering— for both parties.
4) Deal with it. Take some constructive action, a step in the direction of solving a problem. If that isn’t possible, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes you just need to just set the timer and allow yourself ten minutes to sit in your emotional funk in order to get through it. Just be sure it doesn’t turn into an all day nap.
5) Be thankful for the many good things in your life. It could be as simple as appreciating the roof over your head and the earth under your feet. If you struggle with this, there are actually gratitude coaches, like Terza Ekholm who can help!
Of course, these are just simple suggestions for that day when you bump your hand on the mailbox too hard and the little annoyances build up. If you are facing a serious challenge or life-threatening condition, it may make sense to seek the services of a therapist. Mental health professionals are better equipped to help with serious coping problems than most of our family members and friends are and they are also bound by confidentiality— a real bonus if you are dealing with problems that might be fuel for gossip at some later date. They also give you an outlet to deal with problems without burdening those you love.
That said, we each have to make very personal decisions every day, most of which can be handled with a simple attitude adjustment.
So how about you?
How do you handle “those” days?
We ALL have them. Can you cheer someone else up when frustrations are high?
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This blog posting was originally published on 24 September 2015 as part of the Management on the Mat blog