Got a case of the blahs? Trust me — I’ve been there. Bad days are inevitable, which means learning how to stop having a bad day is a critical life skill. It’s not that we shouldn’t have off days (they’re part of being human!), but I know firsthand how much those days can derail pretty much, well, everything. And when you’re trying to build a successful life? That’s the last thing you want to happen.
That said, if you aren’t able to hole up with Netflix and a hot beverage — or sleep it off — here are some of my favorite ways to stop having a bad day ASAP.
1. Create distance.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m having a shitty day it can be overwhelming to be around the things (or people) who either A) caused my mood shift or B) make it worse.
In these cases, creating distance between you and anything making it worse can be SO valuable. It’s not that you need to turn into a hermit for the rest of the day, but sometimes we can take advantage of using a little space to calm down if necessary, take a breath, and reset.
And guess what? Sometimes we need space from good things too. Normally when I’m having a bad day, I like to be around my partner and our dogs. Lately, however, I’ve been taking a short break to be myself so I don’t end up snappy and irritated with someone who definitely doesn’t deserve it.
2. Use a pattern interrupter.
This is one of my favorite tricks for getting out of a funk, and let me tell you. IT WORKS.
Next time you’re feeling off — whether you’re angry, sad, irritated, or something else entirely — find a private space. Once you feel comfortable, it’s time to get silly. Wave your arms, stomp your feet, make some ridiculous sounds — the weirder, the better.
It sounds stupid, but this trick has worked every single time I needed it. The whole point is to do something entirely out of character — and out of context — to literally break the pattern your brain is focusing on. (Aka, your bad day.) You definitely won’t want to do it, especially since we sometimes want to cling to those negative feelings, but it’s worth it.
3. Get active.
There’s a reason why exercise is so popular, and it has nothing to do with how you look. Physical activity delivers much-needed endorphins that can help bust you out of any funk.
Need a little extra oomph? Try something high-intensity or high-contact like kickboxing or sprinting. (Seriously, taking your frustrations out on a punching bag is AMAZING.)
I know how hard it is to convince yourself to get moving when you’re having a really terrible day. Personally, I always want to spend my day curled up with my dogs not exercising, but I’ve learned over the years just how much moving helps.
4. Do something you love.
What’s the one thing that will always make you jump out of bed, excited and ready to go? For me, it’s learning new things like Krav Maga and Japanese, being around people, and traveling. Since I know that those are some of the things that make me happy, I keep a list of them on my phone (seriously) for when I’m feeling lethargic and less-than-pleasant.
There have been many “off” mornings where I’ve absolutely not wanted to go to Krav Maga. I’ve been angry, stressed, anxious, depressed — you name it — but I’ve gotten into the habit of going anyway simply because I love it. It’s like hitting a reset button on my day (and yes, I’ve even gone in the evenings), and it works every single time.
5. Get your nature on.
Most of us know that our environments can positively (or negatively) impact our stress levels. But what you might not know is that nature doesn’t just improve your emotional wellbeing — it can even improve your physical health. That means, if you want to know how to stop having a bad day, it might be as easy as taking a break outside.
Can’t get outside? Simply looking at a photo of nature can boost your mood, which means those photos of your dream travel destination (a trip to Bali, anyone?) are actually good for you. I use a Chrome extension called Momentum that helps inject nature into my day without any extra effort. Now every time I open a new tab, Momentum shows me a new gorgeous photo of nature that reminds me to take a breath and refocus.
6. Laugh it off.
Turns out laughter is actually super good for your health, and it might just be the secret to warding of a case of the blahs. Even when things are super dark or not going your way, researchers believe that laughter actually has the power to help you pull through.
Since laughing on command might not come easily when you’re having a bad day, try looking for things that you know will make you laugh. Bust out a clip of your favorite comedian, watch a funny Vine compilation on YouTube, or my absolute favorite animal video of all time.
7. Try guided meditation.
I’m relatively new to regular meditation, but I can honestly say it’s been a game-changer for me. I’ve tried it in the past with varying degrees of success, but it was always a habit I wanted to develop but could never make stick.
Why meditate? It can actually change your DNA (yep), and taking a few minutes to yourself can make a major impact on your day. For me, I’ve noticed that I struggle with sitting still and staying focused for an extended period of meditation. No matter how hard I try, my anxiety-ridden brain just can’t seem to switch off.
That is, until I discovered guided meditation. Instead of spending 5-30 minutes in complete silence, I use guided meditation videos on YouTube or playlists of meditation tracks on Spotify to give my brain (and my day) a much-needed reset. Considering I used to struggle to sit through five minutes of meditation in the past and can now easily manage 30+ minutes, that’s a MASSIVE win in my book.
8. Make a decision.
Here’s the thing about good days, bad days, and any kind of day in general. You are in control of it. While you might not be able to control what happens, you decide how you respond to it. I’m not saying you can’t ever have a bad day (I definitely do), but it is a powerful reminder that perspective matters.
If you want to know how to stop having a bad day, decide to have a good day. Right now, even if it’s 11:55PM, you can start having a good day. Because here’s the thing about having a bad day. Once we decide it’s a bad day, our brains actually have this funny tendency to search for all of the reasons it’s bad. Even looking for things that already happened (and weren’t “bad” to begin with) to justify our bad day. It’s totally normal and totally human, but it just goes to show how important it can be to intentionally do the opposite.
Reclaim your good day. Look for those reasons — or even a single reason — to make your day better. It doesn’t have to be amazing, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Your good day starts whenever you say it does.