Sometimes it’s just a run-of-the-mill bad day. Nothing is going right, and you can feel the frustration building up inside of you. Other days it’s worse than that and you wonder if you’re going to walk out of it with some sort of PTSD. Then other times, the bad day’s residuals seem to drag on for the rest of the week. I’m a pro at the ladder. I was completely guilty of dragging around a bad mood with me long after the triggering event. The danger of this is that it can become addicting. We get used to feeling ill to the point where feeling better or happy becomes uncomfortably foreign and we start waiting for “the other shoe to drop.” It’s a vicious cycle and therefore it is vital that we learn another way of being.
Below are the steps that I take to IMMEDIATELY shake it all off;
First and foremost, I H.A.L.T. – I have recently learned of this acronym that may stem from Alcoholics Anonymous. But it will work for anyone feeling badly. H.A.L.T stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. This is meant to be an immediate check in when we realize that things are starting to spin out of control. Are the reactions of sadness, pity, anger etc have anything to do with being hungry? Being angry subconsciously at something or someone? Or just angry in general? Are you lonely and yearning for a connection to a community of like-minded and mutually supportive individuals? Or are you tired, and have you been neglecting the most basic of self-care?
Eating good, whole, and healthful foods is paramount to changing a bad day. Reaching for the temporary self-soothing effect of sugar is temporary. Same with caffeine. I was guilty of both of these until I realized that I was contributing to my problem. When it comes time to check in with my anger, I take a piece of paper and write it all out. It sometimes looks just like the ranting’s of a school child, but I don’t care. The point is to get it up and out and then burn it. When it comes to loneliness, I’m rarely that because I enjoy my own company, but when that is a factor in my bad day, I know that I need to reach out to my husband or my dear friends with a text, call, or a little surprise card/gift. Lastly, when it comes to tired – and who isn’t these days – I make it a point to go to bed early. Your body and mind cannot repair it’s self when you don’t sleep. We forget just how restorative the process of sleep and how it’s needed for all of the magic to happen.
After I H.A.L.T….
…I take some sort of action. I’m the kind of person where not being proactive on something that is problematic then compounds the bad day that I am having. If every need in my H.A.L.T. check has been met, then I start to look for things that are within my control to change. Our reactions is always a good start. This may mean that I sit in my office in silence and keep interactions to a minimum. It may also mean that I have to reschedule plans, meetings, and assignments so that I have some breathing room to take it easy or make it a light work day. I also shut down all social media. I don’t check it, I don’t look at it, and I unsubscribe to all notifications.
After I take action…
…I hit the gym. Physical activity produces a chemical change in your body that is practically instantaneous, and will last several hours after you’re done. A 5 minute warm up on the bike, followed by 20 squats with some weights as quick as I can, followed by 30 super stomach sets, followed by a 6 minute sprint/jog interval, followed by 20 butterflies and then a 10 minute cool down will cure all ills. Trust me.
After the gym…
…I clean something. When I was little and I became upset over one thing or another, I would go and straighten up my stuffed animal collection. As a teenager, I would thoroughly clean out and color code my closet. This habit has never left me. When things seem a tad (or a lot) out of control, restoring balance to your surroundings is key. When all of the laundry is done and the dishes put away, a clean and clear space can help you sort out the rest of life because you physically just put things back together. Your subconscious now knows that you are able to mentally and spiritually do the same. Changing the world can begin with emptying the dishwasher.
After I clean something…
…I get into nature. This may mean a walk to a park with my family, or hanging out with my horses after I turn them out into their pasture for the evening. There is science to support the way that nature’s energy can re-set our biological rhythm, and it should be taken seriously.
After I get into nature…
…I get some personal time. I began to realize that the entire universe will not stop nor crumble if I take some time away to journal or soak in a hot tub with Epsom salt and essential oils. I am not responsible for everyone and everything even though that is how I sometimes feel. Though all of the responsibility that I do have will not get the attention to detail that it deserves if I am not at my highest and best. Removing the guilt for taking a time out is key. I will warn that the guilt may always linger, but we all know what happens to those who don’t put their own oxygen mask on first. They die. And when you’re dead, you’re of no good use to anyone now are you?
After personal time…
…I get back to work. I listen to a podcast of His & Her Money. Or listen to Napoleon Hill on YouTube while I write. I re-read Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker from Harvard Business Review. I go to my bookcase and pick out the most motivating piece of literature that I own. The point is for me to get back into the business of living. For me reading or listening to the work of others who inspire me and whom I admire works for me. I gravitate to those people who seem to have the understanding that life is joyful while accomplishing astonishing achievements, because it is a known fact that you become most like the 5 people you associate with. This includes who you listen to and watch. While I have no problem zoning out to Real Housewives on Hulu from time to time (or crushing an entire season), that isn’t the kind of life that I want to emulate. Feeding your mind and soul is just as delicate a business as how you feed your body. You can get just as sick from not tending to your mind as you can if you ate an entire diet of junk food. There is science to prove that as well. Other times I search for a guided meditation on YouTube and really get into what I’m feeling so I can find out more about the why. My goal is to get back into the flow of life, only this time on my terms with the attitude and reactions that I deem conducive to a productive and positive living experience.
If all of the above sounds a lot like self care to you, then you would be on point. Many times feeling badly is just an internal indicator that you’ve put yourself off for way too long. Something inside is begging for you to pay attention to you. When we are trapped in depression or denial, many times this indication is snuffed out by food, alcohol, or even drugs – illegal and prescription. What you will find is that long term this is obviously harmful, and it doesn’t even work.
Bad moods come with the territory of living life. I have met people who have been in a perpetually bad mood for over 40 years. It’s these people who seem to have no financial security, illness, bad days on top of bad years, and are riddled with aches and pains and complaints. Being around them for only a few minutes is enough for me to realize that I don’t want to be like that, and I can chose not to be! I want to sparkle and live a life full of meaning and purpose…even if I don’t yet know what that purpose is. Searching for it is apparently half the fun. Have the bad mood or the bad day, just make sure that the bad day doesn’t turn into a bad week because it’s a slippery slope from there my friend!
Hopefully I’ve provided some sort of inspiration for you to make your own list of things to do on a bad day. Now tell me…what is one thing that YOU do to turn it all around?