You know the feeling, everything you touch, say, plan or think goes wrong and you wonder why you got out of bed that morning. Having a bad day, of course happens to all of us occasionally and the reasons for it are generally unknown especially as not just activities tend to go wrong but this is very often coupled with a sense of frustration, feeling down with a loss of self-esteem and confidence. Even though it is vitally important to isolate this one day from our general feeling about ourselves, that seems impossible at the time. Our minds are usually racing trying to find a solution to the problem and clear thinking is difficult. I had such a day yesterday, something I wanted to fix went wrong and it was all downhill from there. I can tell you I was glad to get to bed! Seriously, though, what can we do to reduce the impact of this short-lived black cloud?
A lot of research has gone into the power of smiling and actively changing facial expressions to force ourselves to be happy. Optimists know that having a glass-is-half-full outlook on life does not come automatically, nor does it always result from positive external events. Rather, having an optimistic worldview requires conscious cultivation, and it isn’t always easy. When the going gets rough, we must actively fight those little voices in our heads that try to derail our sunny dispositions. What you may not be aware of, however, is that changing your attitude may be as simple as assuming the outward appearances of happiness. In other words, research has proven that just by smiling, you’ll actually feel better. One such STUDY (click for more details) suggested strongly that our attitudes are very much influenced by our facial expressions. Conducted in 1988, the study asked participants to hold pencils in their mouths in different positions while completing a simple task meant to distract from the experiment’s real purpose. Some participants were asked to hold a pencil in their teeth, which effectively forced participants to smile. Others were asked to hold a pencil in their mouths by the eraser, which activated muscles used when we typically frown. While holding the pencils in their mouths in different positions, participants were then asked to view different cartoons and subsequently rate their funniness. Those who were holding pencils that activated smiling muscles more consistently rated the cartoons as funny as compared to those who were holding pencils that forced their muscles to frown.
If smiling seems impossible, then general tips to help until the mood passes can be seen below.
Accept the Mood: Recognising and dealing with a bad mood is much better than putting on a brave face and trying to convince others that you are happy. Fighting a bad mood is usually a recipe for making it worse. If you are sad, be sad, if you are mad be mad. Accepting the fact that you are in a bad mood is the first step to doing something about it.
Tell Others (or warn others): Trying to cover a bad mood fools nobody. Sooner or later, the facade will crack and escalation will follow. Reassuring those around you that you are having a bad day and it is nothing to do with them gives you the breathing space you need to battle your mood.
Look at Yourself: Not every bad mood has a reason but we often look to justify it. When we are in a bad mood, it is very tempting to blame everything and everybody for our predicament, creating havoc with close relationships. Those people who deal with bad moods best can usually understand the link between emotions, thoughts and actions and are able to shift undesirable cognitive states to more realistic ones. This means taking responsibility and not seeing the mood as externally influenced.
Remember: Black days are usually just that, a short blip in an otherwise happier existence. When we see everything as negative it is hard to remember or recognise the good things we usually have or share. Taking a short time out to think about these helps to put everything in perspective.
Take some Time: If you are having a really bad day, it might be a good idea to withdraw a little. Taking a long walk or finding a quiet place helps to settle the mind and bring thought patterns back to normal.
It will Pass: Remember a bad mood is sure to pass after a short time……
Please note that the above comments concern help to ease a bad day or a bad mood. If you are feeling hopelessness or sadness over a longer period, please seek professional help.