Saving a Bad Day

When you are feeling low, unmotivated, tired or fed-up how good does your life feel?  And how does your day go?

Well,  mine used to go terribly. My bad days were Pete Tong, pear-shaped, disasters.  But recently I’ve been learning how to save the day.  Here’s what to do, but remember –  if it really is a bad day, following these tips might not be easy. I’m still learning.

  1. Notice how you are feeling.  Try not to think: ‘I’m annoyed and fed up, the whole world is a stupid place.’  Instead just think: ‘Today I’m feeling grumpy and angry, and that’s ok‘.  It might help to try and work out what the real problem is, but sometimes we are just grumpy and tired. It could be something simple like you’ve not got enough sleep, or you’ve had an argument with someone. Or it could be something more complex like being scared of a new project, getting out of your comfort zone, or worrying about getting everything done. Whatever it is, it’s easier to accept it, and deal with it if you know what it’s all about.  But sometimes it can be difficult to figure out exactly what the issue is, and that’s ok too.
  2. Be kind to yourself.  This involves accepting how you are feeling.  Don’t say: ‘I can’t be tired again, I’ve got too much to do today. Just pull yourself together and stop being so useless,’ because chances are you’ll go through the day not achieving much and hating yourself for it. Not a nice way to spend a day.  Be more realistic and accepting of your limitations: ‘OK, you were woken up a few times last night, so you are bound to be tired. Don’t beat yourself up about it, it’s ok.’
  3. Lower your expectations.   When you are low on morale, energy, inspiration, faith, passion or drive you will not get as much done to such a high standard as you are used to doing.  It’s a fact, don’t fight it. So instead of filling up your To Do list with loads of things that ‘Must Get Done Today’, filter out the jobs that can wait for tomorrow.  It might not feel good lowering your standards, but it will help you survive your bad day in a better frame of mind.  Personally I hate having to do this, but I’m getting to know the alternative is worse.
  4. Take time to recharge.  When our phone is low on battery power, we recharge it.  We are less good at recharging ourselves.   And I used to be particularly bad at it, even on my low days.  I would struggle on, feeling bad, using what little energy I had left to beat myself up and walk around in circles not achieving much.  Now, I accept the situation and do something different.  If my mind is not working, but my body is, I might do housework or ironing while watching TV. If I’ve had a bad night’s sleep I might lie down and rest for half an hour. If I am feeling completely useless, I might get the duvet and watch Pride and Prejudice, or I might go out and meet a friend, or go shopping for things I’ve needed for a while.  And although I still find it hard to give myself an hour or morning or ‘OMG a whole day’ off, it’s usually worthwhile and better than battling on.  Because later in the day, or the next day I have more energy and motivation.  (Note: if every day becomes a duvet day, that’s a different problem!). I know I am lucky working from home and not everyone can choose not to turn up to work, and obviously I can’t do this all the time. When I have workshops or coaching clients, or when I have to pick the kids up from school and cook their tea, I can’t just cancel.  But I can still be kind to myself in between the crucial jobs by doing things that recharge me or take the least energy.
  5. Support yourself. When I can’t take time off, I try to support myself to do the things I have to when I’m feeling angry or resentful, or tired and fed-up. The main thing is to be gentle and not battle against yourself. Also telling myself   ‘it will pass’  helps me a lot.
  6. Congratulate yourself.  Ok, lets be honest, we Brits are not great at patting ourselves on the back, but I’m learning to. Not in an over the top way, but in a gentle, ‘well done, you did your best, you’re only human’ kind of way. On a bad day I praise myself for not telling myself I’m rubbish or useless, and for doing all the great things I do do every day, not least, looking after my children.
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