10 Ways to Make a Bad Day Better

Written by Jennifer Jarrett
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10 Ways to Make a Bad Day Better

Image by GIC / Stocksy

It is very likely that we have all had at least one day where the Universe seems to be conspiring against you, where you just feel kinda funky and everything else seems to be reflecting that same funkiness back to you and where your life feels like a personalized version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

We don’t have control of most things that happen to us and around us, however, we can control how we react to these moments and days where life just seems to push back really, really hard. Do we react with intense emotion and frustration and then carry that negative juju with us all day long, letting it muddy-up everything else we do that day? Or, do we just accept the reality, recognizing that it is what it is and that there is nothing that we can do to change what happened so why should we allow it to doom the rest of our day to disaster?

I’ve tried both tactics, and from experience and a lot of days of toting negative juju over my shoulder, I can tell you that option B works so much better. No day is set to be a bad or a good day. Within every moment exists the opportunity to change…to change a mood, to shift a perspective to transform what feels like a really bad day into a rather good and sweet day. We get to choose what receives our energy. We get to choose how we want to direct that energy. We get to choose whether or not we react with anger and irritation or with kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. So, maybe choose the reactions that feel better. Choose the reactions that are love. Always. Choose love.

But, how do we turn that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day into something that is…for lack of a better word…better? First, we change our minds. But sometimes it takes little more than just changing your mind. Other times we need to shake up it up a little bit. Here are 10 ways to shake it sweetly.

1. Hug it out. There is nothing like a hug to just make things feel OK. One of the best things about a hug is that you really can’t get one without giving one back simultaneously. It’s a win-win. You give and you get. So, hug someone or something, your spouse, a friend, your lover, your pet, a parent, child, sibling, a stranger even. But don’t just hug for the sake of hugging, and please avoid the half-assed side-arm hug which just always leaves me feeling worse instead of better. Make it a hug that you are fully present for, a hug that you mean, a hug that matters.

2. Laugh. Find something to laugh about. Call a friend that makes you laugh and maybe stroll down funny memory lane. Turn on a comedy or sitcom -- Modern Family is my go-to laughing source these days, seriously guaranteed laugh-lout-loud.

3. Make a Happy List. Write down the things that make you happy. It can be a list of anything….soy lattes, fluffy white bath towels, a gift of raw dark chocolate macaroons, wearing a sundress in San Francisco and still being hot, the extra 10 minute massage after a fresh pedicure, heating blankets, the smell of my face soap, Friday Night Lights…anything that brings you even the smallest dose of joy. Maybe even look back on the supposedly bad day and identify all of the good things that have been a part of it, too. This shifts my perspective right away and I realize that there is always a ton of good that just gets overshadowed by the bad sometimes.

4. Shake your groove thing. Turn on some music and dance. Dance like no one is watching or, if it’s your thing, dance like everyone is watching.

5. Take it outside. Growing up, when we inevitably started to get on each others’ nerves, my mom would tell us to “just go play outside.” I remember so vividly that the minute we hit the fresh air our collective mood would change. Fresh air can be so healing and so purifying. Even if it’s just for five minutes, step outside and sip in a big ol’ breath of fresh air deep down into your lungs. 

6. Take three deep breaths. When we are stressed, frustrated, and anxious we are existing in our sympathetic nervous system where everything is heightened and we find ourselves on edge. Fortunately, all it takes to shift out of the sympathetic nervous system into the parasympathetic nervous system where we feel more balanced, calm and relaxed, is three deep breaths. Inhale slowly and fully and then exhale completely. Notice yourself begin to relax.

7. Sweat. However you want to do it, sweat. Roll out your yoga mat, go for a run, take your dog for a vigorous walk, go to a kickboxing class, have a dance party, chop your own firewood, or do whatever you gotta do that feels right to you. Just get your heart rate up and get a good sweat on. Those positive endorphins can do some seriously good work on a bad mood.

8. Sing. Turn on that song that you love to sing along to and turn the music way up and just sing your heart out. Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, Adele, Anthony Hamilton and more country singers than I can mention have lifted me out of some pretty dark moments just by unknowingly allowing me to sing with them. Or, if you love to chant, chant your heart out. A little bit of Kali Durga Jai Jai Ma or the Gayatri Mantra and I am a new(er) person. Sing or chant without any worry or concern about how your voice sounds. Sing or chant as if you have the most beautiful voice in the world. If it’s a nice day and you feel like going for a drive, get in your car, roll your windows down and belt it out. Just sing, baby.

9. Practice a random act of kindness. Do something for someone else just because you can. No agenda. No expectation. Practice a random act of kindness without any attachment to the outcome. Even better, do it anonymously. This is like magic.

10. Pray. Know that you are not alone. Ever. Prayer is a powerful way to remember this.

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