Some ideas about how to survive a “Bad Day”

Do you know how to survive a bad day? We all have one now and then so so let’s talk about it. Yesterday was a bad day. I’m sure you know what I mean. From the time you get up, things start being a little “off” and continue on a downhill slide. We all have them now and then. It’s part of being human. There may be no reason for it—you had enough sleep the night before, there are no major issues that need to be addressed, and no big problems looming on the horizon. It’s usually the little things that make a bad day.

My bad day

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Sometimes it’s the little  things that “get to you.” Here’s the short version of my day:

  • I started out by knocking over a liter bottle of water that had the top off.  Yep! You guessed it! By the time I could grab it and put it upright, there was a large wet area in the carpet. I sopped it up.
  • The cat, who has no sense of what’s proper and what’s not, did her “business” in the living room so I cleaned that.  (She’s a very old cat now and doesn’t care much about what’s proper and what is not—in fact, she never did.) She seemed pleased with herself.
  • I’m doing a daily online meditation and couldn’t open it on my computer. I finally gave up trying—I didn’t want to get too upset about a meditation so I just did my own.  You know what I mean.
  • I fixed oatmeal for breakfast and to my surprise, I was out of milk (I knew but had forgotten). I put some coffee creamer on it and actually it was pretty good.
  • As we were leaving for a little league baseball game with my grandson, someone rang the doorbell. My son was the team manager and we HAD to be there on time. We had to tell our visitor “goodbye” and left him standing in our front yard looking bewildered as we drove away.
  • There was more but I won’t bore you with it. You get the idea.

The events of the day made me remember a book my sons had when they were small—Alexander and the  Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It has become a children’s classic and is still available. Alexander made it through and so did I. It probably isn’t the last bad day I will ever have and I’d be willing to bet you have a few of them as well. In the cartoon, Peanuts Lucy says, “I don’t want downs. I just want ups and ups and ups!” We have those days too. Remember them. 

So what’s my point?

The point is that we can do something about a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. It may not stop the unfortunate things from happening, but it certainly can keep you from going negative and letting it ruin your happy state. I’m not talking here about serious incidents like death or injuries that are life-threatening or life-changing. I’m talking about the daily nitty-gritty things that don’t go as planned.

Here are some ideas on how to survive a bad day

Find the humor or the good in it.

There’s almost always humor in the things that go awry. We just have to look for it. The cat, for instance, had a look on her face that said,  “I did that on purpose. Whatcha gonna do about it?” As I cleaned the carpet and looked at the cat, I had to at least giggle.

Look for and Learn the lessons

Oh, there are always lessons and this day was full of them.  Here are some from this particular day:

  • Put the cap back on the bottle, so if it tips over, nothing spills.
  • Be sure the cat has a clean litter box in a place that’s easily assessable.
  • Sign on to an online program early enough so that, if there is trouble, you have time to fix it.
  • Coffee creamer on my oatmeal is VERY good.
  • Learn that most of the “bad things” are small and not worth getting upset about.
  • Life goes on and so do I.


When you feel yourself starting to get uptight, ready to lash out or cry, stop and breathe. Take at least three long, slow, deep breaths exhaling slowly. Let yourself relax a moment. Not only does this help you relax but it can also slow the heart rate and lower your blood pressure. If you imagine the stress or anxiety leaving your body as you exhale it has even better results.

Don’t play the blame game with yourself

If you start blaming yourself or having a spontaneous pity party, it just makes things worse. Cut yourself some slack. You did not plan it and you probably did not cause things to go wrong. Even if you did, let it go. Berating yourself serves no purpose.  Remember that you are human.

Do something positive that changes your state

If possible do something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort. For example, play some music that you especially like or read a chapter of your favorite book. Call a friend who can laugh with you about your day. (Don’t call someone who will say “poor you” or join the pity party). I have learned that if I don’t have someone to call at the moment, I can ask Alexa of Amazon’s Echo, to tell me a joke. Her jokes are so bad that I laugh every time, just because they are so stupid. Or I play a game of jeopardy on the Echo.

Get some Exercise

Exercise. Getting your body moving gets your blood flowing and clears your head. It also helps you relax. If you have a dog, take him for a walk. It’s hard to stay uptight when he wags his tail in excitement when he sees the leash and his exuberance at finding new things to sniff on his way will almost always make you smile. How can it not? This will be great for both of you. Any one of those things can give me an attitude adjustment. If you don’t have a dog and can’t go outside for some fresh air and sunshine, do some jogging in place or some yoga poses. Just DO SOMETHING!

Be grateful

Get a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. Take two minutes to sit down and write as fast as you can everything you can think of that you are grateful for. Gratitude has a BIG payoff physically, emotionally and spiritually. It’s hard to wallow in self-pity because of a bad day when your mind is involved with thinking about all the good things in your life.  Try it.

The day was a good lesson in being human. I hope I learned its lessons. It wasn’t my first bad day and probably won’t be my last.

But I know one thing for sure: Life is good and one bad day doesn’t change that.

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