What started out horribly only got worse. First, there was my time at the office, where it seemed like somebody must’ve packed as many negative experiences as possible into a single workday. There were personnel issues from beginning to end, plus problems to solve, complaints to deal with, and question after question to answer. I was on my last nerve from practically the first minute, and as more and more time went by, I could hardly wait to get away.
But going home didn’t help much, because the tension was even higher there. You see, on that very day—the day that was horrible already—there was drama with relationships that kids and grandkids were working through. As if things hadn’t already been draining enough, now there was a whole crop of other things to deal with. From setbacks with friends to troubles at school, from dating challenges to bad grades on assignments, the Seaborn family had too many things going on that night. It got so overwhelming that at one point in the evening, I remember wishing I could fall asleep and wake up the next day to find I’d skipped over all of it.
Let me just ask: ever had a bad day? Of course you have. Everybody has. In fact, one of your recent stories might be so awful that it easily puts mine to shame. And you’re bound to have more, just like I am and just like everybody is. So, when the next one comes around, what’s a good way to handle it? Here are a few of the ways I’ve learned how to turn around a bad day. Try one yourself:
Connect with people. Have a conversation with someone in your family. Grab a friend and go for a walk, go shopping, go get coffee, go play golf. On a bad day, it can be easy to stay inside and hole up by yourself, but if you make the effort to spend that time with other people, you’ll often find it’s the perfect thing to boost your spirits.
Remember history—yours and other people’s. Think of a time when you made it through a bad day before, or schedule lunch with somebody who has survived a whole string of them. Talk about what helped you to jump the hurdle or get out of the valley—often just having someone to relate to can make things seem worlds better.
Notice patterns. Many psychologists will tell you that after moments of great success or excitement, it’s common to experience a lull or a deep low. Sometimes the weather or seasons can have a similar effect—after a span of beautiful days, that one ugly day can really turn things south. So, if life has been especially good, be thankful, and watch out for a downturn that might sneak up on you.
Encourage someone who needs it. Write a note to the friend who’s feeling alone. Call the family member who’s facing a bad prognosis. Drop in to see the neighbor who’s out of work. Drop off some groceries for the person who’s struggling financially. Or send a text message to somebody if that’s all you have time for. Do what you can to turn your focus outward. Try to make somebody else’s day—in the process, you’ll probably find that yours doesn’t seem quite so bad anymore.