As part of our Best of The Parents Website series, we repost Andrew Fuller's handy guide to getting through a bad day – an article more relevant than ever in these often trying times.
They don’t happen often but they do happen. Days that are so awful we want them over as soon as possible.
Everyone has them – lousy, rotten, dreadful days when absolutely nothing goes right. The dark clouds of negativity surround us. We feel flat or angry or agitated. Everything we try to do to improve our feelings backfires and it feels like life is ‘going to hell in a hand basket’.
These are days that are ended as quickly as possible. Everyone has had days when they have thought the best thing they could do is to go to bed and finish the day so that a new one can begin.
But what if it is 10 in the morning and it’s just too damn early to go back to bed? Let’s talk about some ways of getting through.
It is what it is
On these days it’s hard to see a cheery side to anything but it is useful to remember these days are rare. In your life you get some but not too many. The mega-vicious malevolence of these moments puts these days into a class of their own.
Exceptionally bad days call for exceptional responses.
Stop trying to improve things
As a general rule most attempts to improve things on these days backfires. So stop. The world is having, ‘one of those days’ and you especially are having one of those days. You can’t fix it. Accept it and find ways to get through this.
To borrow a sporting phrase, on the great scoreboard of life the phrase ‘retired-hurt’ should appear next to your name. Consider staying home, switching off the phone and the news and focusing on surviving.
You can’t predict the future
On days like this we can fall into the trap of feeling that life is always going to be like this. This is to deny the true evil vortex that a day like this, is. Accept it for its unique rottenness. On the scales of life, this day is the absolute pits.
Control your exposure to other people
On tough days having too many people to deal with can be draining and toxic. Run away. If you need to, invent a 24-hour virus, a major headache or tummy bug.
Think long and hard before spending time with anyone. People love to have opinions about things but on this day of all days you may not want them shared with you.
You may have a few trusted calm people that you can let know, ‘I’m having a bad day today. I don’t need you to try and fix it but I would really appreciate spending some time talking to you about other things so I can get through it.’
Dive into a different world
On these days you may not be at your most appreciative. Even so, walking in gardens, visiting a conservatory or even strolling through an art gallery may help.
Generally exercise alters our mood so you could go for a walk, a run, to a gym or for a bike ride. Be careful though. Take care of yourself. We don’t want you to end up with a twisted ankle or in a head-over-the- handlebars situation.
Spruce yourself up a bit
Have a shower or bath. Freshen up. Put on some scent that smells good. Wear clothes that make you feel good. Just because you feel awful doesn’t mean you can’t look great.
This is not the day for dieting or denial. Stay away from mirrors and harsh self-criticism. Cook or buy your favourite foods. Think pasta. Think chocolate. Think comfort. Enjoy these foods and try not to guilt-trip yourself later on for enjoying them.
On days like this some people find dour, sad music to be a comfort. It’s almost as if it reminds us that someone else in the history of humanity has also had days like these. Others of course, like to play pump-you-up-positive music.
Talk to an animal
Find a pet or even a passing bird and confide the sort of day you’re having to them. They’ll listen. Who knows? They might even secretly think, ‘There are days being human sounds like it would be hell.’
Take a check up from the neck up
On tough days our thoughts go around and around inside our heads. Sometimes we blame ourselves. Expressing your thoughts can start to shift them.
Write it out, draw it out, grab a musical instrument and play it out. Get those troubles out of your head and on to some paper.
Accepting that the day is one when the excrement has hit the air ventilation system big time goes a long way towards surviving it.
Treat yourself as you would kindly treat a child who is feeling poorly. Make yourself a nice warm drink and go to bed early. Tomorrow is going to be a different day. Good luck!
Of course, if you have a lot of bad days get some professional help.
Copyright Andrew Fuller.
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To mark the publication of 500 articles on The Parents Website, we’ve launched a series of some of the highlights. The articles we’ve selected for The Best of The Parents Website are a combination of the most popular, as well as thought-provoking pieces we think stand out.
This article was originally published in February 2020.
About Andrew Fuller
Andrew is a clinical psychologist specialising in the wellbeing of young people and their families. Stay in touch with Andrew on Facebook, on LinkedIn, through his website and on the My Learning Strengths website
His most recent book is Tricky Behaviours published by Bad Apple Press, RRP $32.99Subscribe to The Parents Website