‘Remember the theme tune from Friends?’ asked my client – let’s call her Olivia – at the beginning of a session a while back.
‘I do and I guess we’re both going to have it stuck in our heads all day now!’ I laughed. ‘Why?’
‘That’s how I feel today,’ Olivia sighed. ‘Before you ask, my love life’s not DOA, I haven’t lost my job and I didn’t burn my breakfast! No, it’s the ‘stuck in second gear’ thing I mean. I guess I’m just having a bad day. I’d really like to work out a strategy to deal with bad days.’
So that’s what we did. With Olivia’s permission, I’m sharing the ideas from that session: they won’t all be relevant to you but we hope they will inspire you to get out of second gear and move forward when you have a bad day.
Notice you’re having a bad day
Sometimes, we can become so weighed down by the ‘bad dayness’ that we don’t actually realise what’s happening. For Olivia, a tension headache is a common indicator. Maybe you stop talking to your colleagues, or you start snapping at the family. As long as you’re not aware of your bad day, you are powerless to change it.
Acknowledge the root cause
It can be more helpful to pinpoint what’s at the bottom of the bad day – car breakdown on the way to work, last minute meeting cancellation, your boss not replying to your emails – rather than being generalist about it. Realising that there’s one thing that has knocked your day out of kilter can help you avoid that feeling of ‘the entire universe is conspiring against me’.
Often, the causes of our bad days are outside our control and acknowledging that fact can help defuse the situation. If the bad day is caused by something within our control, then we can take action to deal with it.
For Olivia, she finds it really helpful to go and get some fresh air in the park near her office for 10 minutes. Changing her physical state helps her to break out of the bad mood and get some perspective on things. You might prefer to practice some mindfulness with an app like Headspace or maybe you’d like to walk to the coffee shop.
Having taken the previous steps, Olivia finds that she’s ready to pick up the threads of her day and move on. Rather than over-think, she just takes the next task on her list and gets on with it. Starting something, whether big or small, overcomes the inertia of the bad day and leaves it behind.
Olivia has been putting into practice her ‘bad day strategy’ and has remarked that it’s working well for her.
Today’s pebble for your pondering: what’s your strategy to get out of second gear and move on from a bad day?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we can work together?