You felt it as soon as you woke up in the morning: A bad day ahead. Or, another bad day.
If you are living with a chronic condition, a bad day can mean not feeling all that great, having to take it easy, maybe cancel some plans. But it can also mean not being able get out of bed.
A bad day can be a pretty lonely experience, suffering while it seems like everybody else in the world, or at least your world, is doing what they usually do. Being alone with the thoughts can run through your mind may cause you to turn up the volume on your bad day, to ask yourself questions like what this means for your future. All that thinking can set off more alarms, including some that don’t need to be set off. Along with feelings like fear, disappointment, and frustration.
Something to consider: How you think about your bad day – your perspective – can impact how you experience it. However, by changing your thinking, you can also help yourself to cope.
So here are seven steps to help you cope on a bad day. Beginning with those thoughts running around inside your head:
Pay attention to your self-talk. When the day gets off to a bad start, it’s only human nature to start “oh my gosh-ing” all over the place. And to assume the day… the week… your life… is on a downward spiral. That’s called catastrophizing. It starts with one negative message to yourself that opens the door to a whole lot more of them.
Identify what’s bothering you. When you’re having a bad day, it can seem like nothing in your life is going right. But most likely, there’s something specific that’s triggering it. Ask yourself: What’s bothering me? The cause may be physical. It may be emotional. It may about a relationship. If you can identify the cause of your bad day, you might be able to avoid turning the whole day into one big catastrophe.
Review your coping skills. Chances are, you’ve had bad days in the past. How did you get through the last one? Took some time to rest? Asked for support? Had a talk with your doctor? Retracing your steps from your last bad day might help uncover some coping techniques to help you get through this one.
Give in. Bad days are a reminder that we aren’t in control of everything. So go with the flow. Do what you can do, and don’t beat up on yourself for what you can’t do. Depending on how you’re feeling, it might help to spend some time with activities you enjoy. A hobby like reading or crafts. Watching TV or a movie. Spending some time with a friend or family member. Promote your own wellness.
Focus on the big picture. Turn your attention toward the big green forest that is your life, and not the patch of weeds that you have wandered into. Stand up to that catastrophizing voice by reminding yourself that a bad day – or a string of bad days – is just that. And not your whole life.
Get grateful. A bad day is a good day to remind yourself of what’s working in your life. So make a gratitude list. While you’re at it, connecting with your spiritual beliefs could also be a source of strength to help you get through the day.
Listen for clues. What feels like a bad day can also be your body demanding attention.
Pushing yourself too hard? Need more rest? Slipping up on your medication regimen? Not paying attention to your emotional self-care? Bad days can leave us with an action item that, if acted upon, can help to avoid future bad days.
A bad day is an opportunity to put compassion into action. Beginning with taking the best possible care of yourself. So put yourself first today. You deserve it!