1. Be mindful of your feelings.
What feelings are beneath your stress and frustration: anger, sadness, anxiety, resentment?
Research shows that knowing and naming your feelings is helpful and soothing. Once you’ve identified your feelings, write them down or talk them out with someone you trust.
2. Get up and move.
In order to shake off a bad day, you need to be active. Sitting still gives your feelings time to fester.
Exercise and activity produce endorphins and serotonin. Just 20 minutes of physical activity will increase these natural mood-lifters and give a noticeable boost to your day. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to enjoy the benefits of exercise. Play fetch with your dog, walk outside with a friend at lunch, take a bike ride through the park.
3. Do something you love.
Distraction can be a blessing. Watch a favorite movie, listen to music, work on a craft project, plan a vacation. If your passion involves physical exertion (hiking, running, kayaking, etc.), all the better.
Avoid judging yourself or having strict standards. Enjoy the experience. Try to lose yourself in it.
If you can’t completely set the anger, depression or anxiety aside, don’t worry. Taking positive action even when your heart isn’t in it will benefit you. Doing what you love reduces cognitive dissonance and helps to lift your mood. Acting as if you feel better can translate into actually feeling better.
4. Do a mindset makeover.
Take a deep breath and reassure yourself that having a bad day is part of living on the planet. Consider the whole picture. Do you always feel this way? Will you feel this way for five minutes, five hours, five months or five years? Put things in perspective. Use positive self-talk and itemize the benefits around you and within you. Look at the whole picture not only your current irritations.
5. Connect with others.
It helps to close a bad day by getting out of yourself and helping someone else. Volunteer, or offer someone a kind gesture. Help a family member with a task, or play with a pet. When you’re feeling kind, loving and grateful, it’s difficult to hold onto sadness, anger and resentment.
6. Rest up.
The best thing to do at the very end of a difficult day? Get to bed at a decent hour and turn off/limit your use of cell phones, computers and tablets for the last hour before bedtime. Getting seven to eight hours of good quality sleep is one of the best ways to recover from a bad day. A good night’s sleep will help put it all in perspective. And you can start fresh the next day.