Having a bad day?

Having a bad day

Some days things will not go your way. I’m not talking about those days when you may have some setbacks. I’m talking about those days when you just can’t seem to do anything right, when it seems that you can’t pick yourself up, brush yourself off and try again. When, no matter how you try, you can’t begin to do things the “right” way.

People describe feeling ungrounded. A general feeling of dis-ease descends into increasing anxiety. These feelings are amplified by trying harder and harder to accomplish something, which on other days, might be fairly easy to do. As a result you can begin to feel incompetent. This can spiral downward as the day wears on.

How do you pull yourself out?

Notice how you feel
Feeling somewhat anxious when facing the challenges of the day is not unusual but when the anxiety becomes sustained it can be counterproductive to continue to repeatedly try to get something done and not be successful. Tune in to how you are feeling. If your anxiety is increasing as the day goes on, back off and use some of the following strategies to help you feel more grounded and in charge.

Lower expectations
Being too hard on yourself won’t help you achieve your goals. When we are too anxious it is disabling. Back off from what you feel you have to get done. Bite off a smaller chunk to work on. Give yourself permission to NOT get everything done.

Take a break
Do something else. Get your mind off the task at hand for 15 minutes to a half hour. Take a nap (or take a powernap if a nap sounds too wimpy to you), take a walk or indulge in a conversation with a work buddy or a friend. Many people do their best work when they leave the task at hand and come back to it later.

Eat and/or drink something
You could be dehydrated or your blood sugar might be low. Either of these things can have an effect on your thinking, mood or energy level. You can become dehydrated even in the course of normal daily activities other than exercise. Regular small meals are also recommended to stay sharp.

Back on track (or not)
Recognizing you are off kilter and doing something about it may give you the chance to redeem the day. If not, surrender to the inevitable and remember, tomorrow is another day…….



Affirmations in the past

Affirmations have been around in the popular culture since the 70s. This popularity peaked with now Minnesota senator Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley character on Saturday Night Live in 1991. His routine always ended with, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me”. Affirmations could be and were mocked for their simplicity and, in some cases, lack of usefulness.

Affirmations now

But affirmations have not gone away. They live on in the self-help world. There are now books of affirmations for every problem that you may experience from overeating to substance abuse to spiritual emptiness. Many people keep a book of affirmations by their bedside to read as inspiration for their day; you may have one or two of these books yourself. The short sayings in these books can be very inspiring and helpful in reorienting your thinking for the day ahead.

Why self-affirmation?

But, at some point, you may want to take matters into your own hands by coming up with your own affirmations. We often don’t know how wise we are until we allow ourselves to be our own guide. How might you go about this?

How to create your affirmations

Set aside some time when you get up to focus on your desires, hopes and dreams. This could be immediately upon waking, after you have had your coffee or anytime before you start your day out in the world. Be flexible but when you decide what time in your daily routine to do this stick to that time. For example, you may decide to do this every day while sitting in a chair after you have had your coffee.

Sit quietly for 5-20 minutes with eyes closed concentrating on your breathing or in meditation if you already have a practice. Try to keep your mind as free as possible from your daily concerns.

Towards the end of this period let a thought or two come to the surface. Stay focused on the positive thoughts. Write down or type out a sentence or two that came to you. Refer to it throughout the day by emailing it to yourself or writing it down on a piece of paper that you can look at every once in a while.

Remind yourself

Remember, you may not do this perfectly. In fact you won’t. Be gentle with yourself and accept that this is a process and you are learning how to do it, how to maintain it and, ultimately, how you feel you would like to move forward in your life. Everyone has unique ways to face the challenges and opportunities they are presented with; it is up to you to seek your own inner wisdom.

This information is for educational purposes only and should not in any way be considered a substitute for professional help. If you feel that you need immediate assistance please call your local psychiatric emergency services or the SAMSHA Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990.