How to Turn Around a Bad Day: A Step By Step Guide

Like most people with an interest in personal development, I’ve always been fond of a good inspirational quote—and lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about a favourite:

“Choose your mood.” – source unknown

It’s a simple but powerful reminder that, while things may not always go exactly to plan, we always have a choice about how to react when life throws us a curveball.

This is so relevant for me right now because with a four-month-old, a LOT doesn’t go according to plan—and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it’s sometimes often frustrating!

Of course, I can’t put all the blame on my little munchkin; I was having bad days long before she arrived! Kids or no kids, challenging days are inevitable, but how we react is up to us. We can choose to give in to the negative voices in our heads or we can take steps to turn things around.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been working hard to choose the second option more often than the first. Some days it takes me longer than others (and some days it just doesn’t happen) but mostly, I’m finding I really can “Choose my mood” when I put my mind to it. Step by step, here’s what works for me.

Bad days are inevitable, but how we react is up to us. We can choose to give in to the negative voices in our heads or we can take steps to turn things around.

By the way, I wrote this draft a few weeks ago in my journal. Then today, as I was typing up this post, I started to slide headfirst into a bad day and had to put my own words to the test! It truly worked for me so I hope these tips will work for you too! x

STEP 1: RECOGNISE WHAT’S HAPPENING

I think one of the biggest challenges to overcome a bad day is sometimes just realising what’s going on. It can happen so quickly; one minute you’re okay, then something doesn’t work out quite as planned, and next thing you know your mood is snowballing downhill.

Because of this, your best bet is to try and turn things around before it gets too out of control, so it pays to know your early warning signs. Everyone’s different but here are a few things I know I do when I’m on the fast track to a bad day:

  • I think negative or defeatist thoughts (“I can’t do this!” or “I give up!”)
  • I become short-tempered and get snappy with my loved ones
  • I look for quick fixes to boost my mood, like unhealthy snacks or mindless shopping

STEP 2: PRESS PAUSE

Once you realise what’s happening, the next step is to press pause; you need to get out of your own head and, if possible, out of your current environment. Go outside, escape to the bathroom, or–if you’re really stuck—just close your eyes for a few minutes.

Take a few deep breaths and try to forget about everything but the present moment. Don’t think about what’s gone wrong, don’t think about what you have left to do, don’t even think about trying to turn around your mood.

Just breathe until your mind starts to quiet.

RELATED POST: 4 Signs It’s Time to Press Pause (Why I Took A Break From Blogging)

STEP 3: MAKE THE CHOICE

While of course, there are unfortunately some truly bad days in all of our lives, the good news is most of the time “having a bad day” is more of an attitude choice than the result of our circumstances.

The bad news, however, is that changing your attitude can be much harder than you might initially think (or at least, I’ve always found this to be the case!). It requires letting go of whatever it is that triggered you in the first place—hurt, anger, or disappointment—and making an active commitment to move forward.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always ready. On really rough days, it just feels easier to dwell in my own misery than to do the hard work and turn things around. It’s not something I’m proud of but I’m not beating myself up about it either (and neither should you). If this is where you are right now, it’s okay to write off the rest of the day and start again tomorrow.

But if that’s not what you want—if you want to turn around your bad day—then you need to commit to your choice. There’s no doing this halfway; accept that whatever has happened is in the past, draw your line in the sand, and get ready for a fresh start.

STEP 4: RESET

How this next step plays out will vary a lot from person to person but the idea is the same for everyone; once you decide you’re ready for a fresh start, I suggest doing a short “reset ritual” to signal to your body and mind that you’re starting over.

If you’re short on time, it could be something as simple as applying a fresh coat of lipstick or making a hot cup of coffee. If you’ve got more time (or if you’re having an especially bad day!) you might want to take a shower or go for a run. It’s completely up to you what you do but once you find what works for you, I suggest sticking to it and making it a habit every time you find yourself in this situation.

RELATED POST: 6 Steps To Reset + Thrive In Your Busy Season

STEP 5: MOVE FORWARD

Now that you’ve let go of the negativity and reset your mind, the final step is to make the most of your fresh start! Make a conscious effort to move forward and make today a good day by doing something that feels good.

Again, there are endless possibilities and you need to decide what works best for you (in fact, it’s not a bad idea to put some thought into this before you’re having a bad day!). To inspire you, here a few things that work for me:

  • Check something off your to-do list—the sense of accomplishment always lifts my spirit!
  • Get moving (I like to go for a walk or do yoga)
  • Catch up with a friend or loved one
  • Cuddles always work for me 🙂
  • Plan an adventure (watch this space—I’ve got a big announcement coming soon!)

BONUS TIP: BE KIND TO YOURSELF

On a final note, I’ve noticed that a lot of my bad days are caused because I’m too hard on myself—usually a mix of unrealistic expectations and perfectionism. I know if I could nip this in the bud, there wouldn’t be any need to combat so many “bad” days … so I’m working on it.

It’s not easy and I often need to be reminded, so I thought I’d share the message in case you needed to hear it today too 🙂

RELATED POST: 5 Ways to Be Kinder to Yourself

I hope you enjoyed this post! What are your tips for turning around a bad day? Let me know in the comments! xx

photo credit: Bruce Mars // Used with permission

(Visited 3,526 times, 3 visits today)

Author: Jennifer

Hello there! I'm Jennifer and welcome to Simply + Fiercely, a community of women striving to live simpler, more intentional lives. As a former shopaholic and workaholic, I know how it feels to live a life that doesn't feel true to what's in your heart. Fortunately, I've transformed my life and gone from feeling cluttered and confused to living a curated life filled with purpose and joy. Now I'm here to help you do the same.