How to Deal with a Bad Day

Written by Christine Kane

Let’s face it. No matter how much progress we make, we’re still going to have Woman Under Umbrella“bad days.”

You know the ones.

When the old critical voices are milling about drinking martinis in your head. You try to send them all away with your favorite powerful affirmation, but only a few of them even look up – and one of them turns away and snickers.

So, what do you do when no matter what you do, you’re just icky?

Very few success-gurus or business coaches talk about the bad day. Rarer still is any discussion on the process of following your dreams or building a business and the persistence it takes to break through old patterns.

Sometimes it helps to hear someone be honest about this stuff. Not so that you can indulge in self-pity about how hard you have it. But so that when the bad day strikes, you have some leverage and you KNOW WHAT TO DO! (Or not to do!)

So, how do you get through a bad day?

Here’s a few things that help me. Let them help you too…

 

WHAT TO REMIND YOURSELF:

1 – The icky voices do not tell the truth.

They’re just your old voices coming up to feed. Do not feed them. This is what makes them stay.

2 – This is not who you are.

The voices like to tell you that this messed up person is who you really are and that the rest of the world doesn’t have these same flaws.

Not true.

This is just a temporary set back. That’s all.

3 – Lattes don’t take the voices away. It just makes them go faster.

Bad Days are not a call to rush out to Starbucks, hoping that if you move faster, it will all go away. If there’s any action that needs to be taken now, it’s probably a nap.

4 – You can put off your productivity until tomorrow.

Consciously choosing to be unproductive is much more effective than spending the day wondering why you can’t get anything done. It really is okay to put down your goals and to-dos for one day. You can return to them tomorrow. Today, make it your goal to consciously do nothing.

5 – Everything seems worse when you’re tired or hungry.

If you are tired or hungry, that could be the primary cause of feeling bad. Eat something yummy. Take a nap. Go somewhere and sit quietly.

WHAT TO DO:

1 – Stop feeling bad about feeling bad.

If it helps, make today a container. Know that you’re allowed to have this stuff and that nothing horrid is going to happen with this one day of getting thrown off.

2 – Make no decisions.

The late Richard Carlson, author and psychologist, gave this great advice: “Never make decisions when you’re in a low mood.”  That’s because low moods are a natural occurrence and that any low-mood decisions are typically not healthy. Put off all decisions when you’re having a bad day.

3 – Don’t read fashion magazines. Or the news.

4 – Take a 20 minute walk.

Bring a gentle affirmation along with you. On days like this you don’t want to say, “I am master of the universe!!!”  On days like this you want to say, “I am loved. I am precious.”

5 – Don’t try to FIX yourself today.

No need to rush to the Self-Help section at Borders. Maybe there are steps you can take toward being healthier in the big picture. But today, let yourself stop.

6 – Lower your standards.

If you eat a good healthy meal, be proud. If you do a little yoga, give yourself a high five. Tomorrow you can have your old high standards back and be productive and evolved and all that. Not today.

7 – Say NO to anything if it’s motivated by the word “should.”

This is a good rule to follow on good days too!

8 – Ask yourself what you feel like doing.

Sometimes the answer to this can be surprising. Maybe you’ll want to begin a fiction audiobook and clean your closet! Maybe you’ll just want a nap. Don’t judge your response. Just do it. You might be surprised at how this one little bit of permission changes your state instantly!

9 – Don’t do anything destructive.

Don’t overdose on sugar or indulge in alcohol. Don’t call anyone who drains you. It will not help.

WHAT TO BE:

Be very, very kind to yourself.

WHAT TO KNOW:

That the victory is not about not having bad days anymore. The victory is that you can get back up after having one.

{19 comments ... read them below or add one}

Christine Kane | Idea a Day
January 31, 2013 at 12:39 am

{19 comments ... read them below or add one}

Emma December 12, 2012 at 9:37 am

Thanks Christine.. I don’t know how you knew, but I definitely needed this today! I appreciate a lot of what you say in your article, about reminding yourself this is not the truth of the real situation, and it’s ok to do whatever you need to do to feel better (avoiding the coffee and news is great advice!). I agree that indulging in what you want to do like having a bath or reading a book (usually both at the same time in my case!)is the best way to get back on track, as opposed to beating yourself onwards and gulping down a coffee to do it faster!
For the rest of the day I am going to do what I want out of what I had planned to do, and only do what I can and not stress about it, and I saw your email just before I needed to head out for the afternoon so I can keep this in mind… thank you ;)

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Araceli December 12, 2012 at 9:50 am

I think bad days are guaranteed! I am still in the discovery phase of what makes me happy or helps me recover from a bad day and I’ve discovered that sunsets and the ocean are an automatic lifter for me. There is something so magnificent about the way the sun sets after a bad day. It gives you full permission to put away what drained you because night has come and now God has given you a second chance.

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Maria December 12, 2012 at 10:48 am

I find that I rarely have “bad” days anymore. Sure, I have days where Im not as productive, when things are off track, when Im not moving forward fast enough. But because Ive been trying for so long to make my day a holistic one, and every day there are some good little things happening (a nice latte, a fantastic mountain-view, kids playing, someone stopping their car to let you cross the street, laughter with friends…), that there is rarely a day that accounts as “bad” anymore, even if things at work were not ok. And there are always things in our control to turn a “bad” day into a “bad-at-work-only” day. Get out of there early, go to a park full of kids!

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Christine Kane Reply:

Maria – What you’re describing sounds like “non-resistance.” When we have a bad day, we are labeling it a “bad day.” Sounds like you’ve mastered the flow, which is terrific!

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Teresa Penbrooke December 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

Very timely. I just wish I had received it yesterday before I had some close call with almost falling (torqueing my back) on ice on my way to work out, and smashed my finger with some weights while there. I came home and dropped something in the kitchen, and then fell to the floor in a heap, bawling for about 4 minutes, then got up, dusted myself off, and proceeded to drink too much coffee for the rest of the day. I got some stuff done, but everything was difficult. In hindsight, a nap probably would have been a much better choice. There was nothing really wrong – just off kilter all day. Today is a better day already, sun is shining, I’m back on green tea, and everything is humming along nicely so far. Off to be high-level productive, feeling good, and thanks so much for the reminders!

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Renee December 12, 2012 at 11:42 am

You sent this at the perfect time! I was having a really bad day yesterday and I decided to do nothing, just sit on the couch and watch tv. We’ll see how today goes. Thanks Christine!

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Stacey Broder December 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Hi Christine – This was how I felt on Monday. So I just allowed myself to feel what I was feeling without trying to work, stop the feeling, etc. I sat with it with the intention of pondering why I was feeling this way. Allowing myself the freedom to do that without the guilt made it a much easier process on myself. And by the end of the day, that feeling was gone. I was much happier I believe for just giving myself that time! Thanks for the article!

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Tova December 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm

YES! to all of it. Yes, a bad day is just a bad day, and you can afford to be gentle with yourself. I love what you say about the voices and about not trying to fix yourself. It sounds so much like Zen awareness practice, and it’s so true — the voices really aren’t you, and you really don’t need to let them live in your head not paying rent (and not paying for those martinis). And there’s nothing that needs fixing, especially when you’re having a bad day (what I sometimes call an “I-hate-everything” day). I also relate to what Stacey says above, about how looking it in the eye and sitting with the sensations somehow makes things better — like turning your attention to the 2-year-old tugging on your leg and having her suddenly calm down. Nice!

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SuzanneG December 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Okay, Reminders #3 and #5 really hit home. About a year ago I started paying attention to how my productivity slowed when I was hungry, and how drinking more coffee just made me crazy, not efficient.

Something that really works is an occasional day, or even just an afternoon, of doing nothing but reading something that makes me happy (Reminder #4). The project will still be there tomorrow, and I’ll be refreshed and ready to work.

And I have to laugh as I add to What to Do #9: Don’t even answer the phone when it’s someone who drains you.

Thanks, Christine, for this checklist for creating and staying in a better day!

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Jennifer Flint ~ The Aura Reader December 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I find that I usually have my worst days when I don’t meditate enough, or when I eat the wrong things (sugars or carbs). Those bad-energy days seem to compound as they go along, so by now I’ve learned to do as you suggest and just have a little protein snack, do a couple of minutes of stepper exercise, and go lie down in my comfy chair and meditate/nap for about half an hour. Surprisingly, that fixes just about everything, and the day seems to proceed much better after that. Simple enough! :)

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Christine Kane Reply:

Jennifer – Yes, the practices and habits we put into place are what prevent the bad or “reactionary” days from taking us by storm. That’s why I have two tracks in my mastermind 1) Strategy (so you can learn how to market. And 2) Soul — so you can create habits to keep your mindset and focus in the right place as you grow. Sounds like you’re tapped into those habits! :)

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Rani Primmer - Jagged Touch Studio December 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm

This is really helpful in that It has caused some much needed reflection for today. I’m in a place where I have become more aware when I’m allowing the toxic voices to mess with me so bad days/discouraging days are less frequent…not that they don’t try to rear their ugly head but with practice in becoming aware and separating myself from them, I have been able to quiet them for the most part. I believe though when I take my direction to the next level that I may be challenged again to manage higher levels of anxiety, and louder icky voices. I have a feeling the lattes will be calling my name again. Life is a classroom and I think I will need to practice these lessons again and again. Thanks Christine.

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Fiona Claire December 12, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Great article!!!! So refreshing and important to hear an honest and compassionate approach to feeling low. There are days when being “Master of the universe!” seems like too much hard work. It’s this wise attitude beyond the surface hype that keeps me coming back to you again and again. Thanks Christine.

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Andrea December 12, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Hi Christine, thank you! I love to be very very kind to myself when I am having a stressful day. Or I often sit down on the floor or in the grass and to get grounded.
Love, Andrea

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Dr. Anna Garrett December 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I love this, Christine. Bad days are not permanent! And giving yourself permission to just go with it is so much easier than fighting it!

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Maggie Reyes December 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Christine! I love love love this (as I love everything you write!)

I have one item to add to your list – Request a Do Over – whether from yourself, someone else, or the barista at Starbucks who gives you a Vanilla Bean (cold, icy) when you would have traded your entire kingdom for a Vanilla Creme (warm, heavenly).

I love #2 and live by it too – make no decisions on cloudy days.

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Christine Kane December 13, 2012 at 11:10 am

Thanks for so much great additional wisdom here, peeps! So glad this post was able to shed some light…

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Brittanya Beddington December 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm

This article is fantastic…as they all are of course. But these are seriously usable things for bad days! I definitely use far too many shoulds and end up spending my bad days wondering what’s going wrong…now I feel like I have a better tool to recognize my bad day and go with the flow…remembering that everything changes =D.

ps. That cover photo is lovely!

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