The worst part of having an off day is the sour mood that inevitably comes along with it.
Your emotional state becomes less about the critique from your boss or the tiff with your spouse but about everything. It seems like the whole universe is out to get you by the end. Or at least it can feel that way.
This is absolutely no fun, to state the obvious. So we asked several psychology experts how to manage these feelings in order to turn a crappy day around. Take a look at their tips below so you can get back on the happy side:
1. Embrace your bad mood.
It sounds counterintuitive, but try accepting the fact that you’re in a terrible state. Doing so will actually make the negative perception of the day go away faster, according to Mark Aoyagi, director of sport and performance psychology and associate professor at the University of Denver.
“We’re a lot better off just accepting and acknowledging where we’re at, as opposed to trying to change it,” Aoyagi told HuffPost.
2. Take advantage of your bad day by tackling a task.
“There [are] a lot of tasks where being in a bad mood or sort of having negative emotions can actually be quite useful,” Aoyagi said.
It’s true: Research suggests that people who feel sad perform better at detail-oriented tasks and negotiate more effectively than their happy counterparts. Put your emotions to use by finishing a home project or tackling your work inbox.
3. Consider how you may have played a part in the day’s outcome.
Go over the day’s events and consider where you might have played a role as things went wrong. For example, maybe the day went off the rails because you did not organize your time or resources properly.
“So often we think of ourselves as passive recipients of actions upon us,” Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told HuffPost. “If you can see yourself in a more proactive mode, I think it will help you feel better. It’s not just owning your role in this, but it’s also not seeing yourself as a victim being slapped around by life.”
Just don’t engage in too much self-blame, Krauss Whitbourne said. The key here is to do this exercise without beating yourself up. See what you can do differently and commit to changing it the next time around.
4. Focus on gratitude.
Create a list of everything that makes you feel thankful, Gail Gross, a psychologist and human behavior expert, told HuffPost. It could be as simple as “I listened to my favorite song today” or something more overarching like “I am healthy.”
For an added boost, take this opportunity to also write freely about your thoughts, goals and feelings. Research shows that journaling can help with anxiety reduction and lower cortisol levels (AKA the stress hormone).
5. Ask a friend to go for a walk with you.
Studies suggest that the simple act of going for a walk can improve your mood. And a loved one’s company could amplify this effect, says Gerdenio Manuel, a professor of psychology at the University of San Francisco.
“Turn to those things and people that make you feel better and let them know that you need some help and support,” Manuel told HuffPost.
6. Find a furry friend.
Research shows that pet owners may have better wellbeing. Head to a shelter, spend some time with your best friend’s cat or visit a dog park. Cuddling a furry friend can help boost your mood, Gross said.
7. Indulge in a little “me time.”
Manuel stresses that leaning on others for support may have better benefits, but don’t dismiss the power of some alone time, either.
“Sometimes you just need to take a little time out from things that are bothering you,” he explained.
Maybe this means ordering pizza for dinner and watching an episode of a new show by yourself. Try to return to something simple that brings you pleasure.
8. Get into #BeastMode.
“If you go to the weight room or the gym and you’re in a bad mood, put that energy into your workout,” Aoyagi said.
People usually feel good or, at the very least, return to their baseline disposition after sweating it out, Aoyagi explained. And science backs this up: Exercising can put you in a better mood and help you regulate emotions.
9. Put your bad mood into perspective.
If you find yourself having thoughts such as “I failed” or “today is ruined,” try to remember those are over-generalizations, Manuel said. All is rarely ever lost and things will likely even out with some time.
10. Find the silver lining.
There’s power in looking on the bright side, Krauss Whitbourne said. See where things went wrong, what you can learn from all of it and finally, acknowledge something that went right.
“Look for whatever glimmer of hope you can extract,” she said.
Then let your bad day go.