When we are faced with a “bad day,” it can be hard to cope with it. Perhaps the day started with waking up late or accidentally hitting snooze on every alarm you set, the hot water being shut off in your building while there is still shampoo in your hair, forgetting your backpack on the dining room table only to realize it halfway to work or school, someone cutting you off on the freeway, a negative interaction with a peer or colleague, conflict with a superior at work or teacher at school, or an argument with your spouse. Maybe it was some serious news like a new health diagnosis. Days like these can trigger underlying symptoms such as depression, hopelessness, anxiety, restlessness, or intrusive thoughts. When we have a day like this, it can be hard to access healthy coping skills.
Here are some remedies for a bad day:
- Call a friend or family member to talk about it. It can be so powerful to open up to another person and give that person the gift of your trust. Make a list of three people you feel safe and comfortable opening up to and keep that list handy on a day you need it. Chances are, this might even bring you closer to this person.
- Take some time to read for pleasure. Pick up a novel of a genre that is interesting to you. Maybe there are already a few books on your bookshelf you have been meaning to get around to. We read emails, we read blogs and posts and tweets, and we might even read bedtime stories to little ones. But there is something extra special about reading a storybook that is picked out for you and reading for pleasure by choice. This is a comforting and healthy form of escape from the problems of every day.
- Pick a TV show that can be your “comfort show.” This can be something you have already watched multiple times. Maybe it is a show that’s from your childhood or makes you feel nostalgic. Pick a show that feels comforting, one that you know will always have a happy ending. When our lives are filled with chaos, we need something that feels safe and predictable. Switching on the news can be a great way to stay in touch but might be adding more stress to your day than relieving it.
- Be sure to take good care of yourself by eating on a regular schedule, even if depression has been making your appetite decrease. Your body needs fuel to keep going and you deserve to nourish your body.
- Set up your space to be comforting to the five senses. Prepare a food item that is pleasing to your sensation of taste. Light candles or diffuse essential oils to please your sensation of smell. Sit on soft blankets, prop yourself up with fluffy pillows, hug a stuffed animal (also a great way to connect to your inner child!), wear soft clothing to please your sensation of touch. Listen to calming music such as classical piano music, lo fi, or soothing melodies to please your sensation of hearing. Look at comforting photos such as photos of a trip you took in the past, or of people that you love, or of animals to please your sensation of sight.
- Write your feelings in your journal, such as what happened throughout the day, how you felt emotionally as well as what sensations you noticed in your body, what thoughts came into your mind, and what your needs are. Consider writing a No-Send letter to someone that you are having unresolved feelings towards.
- Give back in some way that feels meaningful to you. If you have the financial means, contribute to a charity that resonates with your values. Consider making a donation in honor of Black History Month (you can find a resource on where you can give back here: https://www.charities.org/news/celebrating-agents-change-black-history-month ). If you are unable to contribute financially, look online to see if there are assisted living or skills nursing facilities in your area that are accepting holiday themed mail for residents who are needing connection.
- Engage in a joyful movement practice that feels healing in your body, such as free form dancing, a gentle walk or a calming yin yoga sequence and intentionally release the tension in your body that you might have been holding in from difficult interactions during the day. Try to avoid exercise routines that make you feel “pushed to the limit” or punished in any way.
- Write a gratitude list: of things you are grateful for that happened today, this week, this month, this year. Be sure to be specific, do not just list things like “the sky, music and my bed,” but be specific such as “the sky because when I look at the sky I am reminded how I can find something beautiful in each day,” “music because when I listen to the right song when I feel a certain way, I do not feel so alone and that makes me feel better,” and “my bed because after a long day of holding tension I can finally relax and let go as I let the blankets comfort me.”
Remind yourself that this pain is only temporary. Validate for yourself that you are human, no one is perfect, and we are all allowed to have tough days. But also remind yourself that you are strong, courageous, resilient, and worthy feeling your feelings. You may be healing from a painful experience, and it is important to allow yourself to process your feelings, but these will