Thursday, March 31, 2011

8 steps to a “bad day” turnaround

We can all have our share of lousy days. You know the kind I mean — demanding clients, grouchy co-workers, unpleasant reviews.  And when the stress on the personal side of life collides, it can make for a really epic bad day.  

So what can you do to turn it around?

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, offers these tips, to help turn a terrible day into possibly a terrific one.
  1. Resist the urge to “treat” yourself – instead do something nice for someone else. Often, the things we choose as “treats” aren’t good for us. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt, loss of control, and other negative consequences just deepen the lousiness of the day.  “Do good, feel good” – this really works. Be selfless, if only for selfish reasons.
  2. Seek inner peace through outer order. Soothe yourself by tackling a messy closet, an untidy desk, or crowded countertops. The sense of tangible progress, control, and orderliness can be a comfort.
  3. Exercise is an extremely effective mood booster – but be careful of exercise that allows you to ruminate. For example, if I go for a walk when I’m upset about something, I often end up feeling worse, because the walk provides me with uninterrupted time in which to dwell obsessively on my troubles.
  4. Stay in contact. When you’re having a lousy day, it’s tempting to retreat into isolation. Studies show, though, that contact with other people boosts mood.
  5. Things really will look brighter in the morning. Go to bed early and start the next day anew. Also, sleep deprivation puts a drag on mood in the best of circumstances, so a little extra sleep will do you good.
  6. Remind yourself of your other identities. If you feel like a loser at work, send out a blast email to engage with college friends. If you think members of the PTA are mad at you, don’t miss the spinning classwhere everyone knows and likes you.
  7. Keep perspective. Ask yourself: “Will this matter in a month? In a year?”
  8. Write it down. When something horrible is consuming my mind, I find that if I write up a paragraph or two about the situation, I get immense relief.

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