5 Ways to Stop a Bad Day in Its Tracks

In the good old days, if you were having a lousy day, you'd at least be done with the work part of it by 5 p.m. or so, provided you worked the standard 9-to-5 office worker's schedule. Now, of course, thanks to technology, your day can go on and on and on. Don't despair: even if you can't unplug completely, you can still reboot.

bad day 

(Photo Credit: roy costello)

Here's how to do it.

1. Reframe.

"Here's the thing," Steve Schwartz writes at Lifehacker. "There is absolutely no such thing as a bad day in reality. A bad day only exists in our interpretation of reality, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Before you start throwing your desk toys at the screen, stop and think: how did your last terrible day get so bad? Partly, it was because one thing piled on another, and you were already in a bad mood after Thing 1 ruined your mood. (Not this Thing 1, obviously. That never ruined anyone's mood.)

If you can stop, collect yourself, and reframe the situation, you can prevent compounding things by allowing one harried phone call cause you to drop your coffee all over your keyboard, which then results in your getting into a fight at the Apple Store, etc.

2. Take a time out.

"But I'm too busy!" Trust us, you're too busy not to. That example we offered above, about spilling drinks and making new enemies? That's exactly what happens when we're too busy and upset to pay attention to what we're doing. Be here now, etc.

3. Get outside.

This is another idea that seems impossible when you're having a bad day, but it's just about the best thing you can do, especially if the weather is nice. Go take a brisk walk for ten minutes. You'll get some sunshine and fresh air, blow off some steam, get the blood flowing -- and hopefully avoid anything work-related long enough to reset.

4. Look at pictures of cute animals.

Looking at adorable animals makes you more productive. It's science! Also, apparently there are cats who are currently having a worse day than you. Sometimes a little schadenfreude is medicinal.

5. Vent to a friend -- but not a coworker, and not online.

Now is not the time for vaguebooking. Call a friend, on the phone, like our ancestors did, or better yet, meet him in person for a quick chat. Sometimes, you need to remind yourself that you have human connections outside of work, and that today's problems aren't necessarily as bad as they seem when you're in the middle of them.

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