When you are in the middle of a gut-wrenchingly awful, pound-your-head-into-the-wall-terrible kind of day, it's hard to imagine that you might be able to make it better.
Well, you can. Here are a few coping tactics I've employed on the most awful of days (and none involve knocking anyone's lights out or drinking a bottle of vodka!):
When you are having a bad day, one of the first things you do is tense up. When you tense up, you unknowingly hold your breath. When you hold your breath, you feel less capable of being able to function. When you feel less capable of functioning, you get more tense and hold your breath. (Not a good cycle!)
Stop right now and do this:
Close your eyes and put your dominant hand (the one you write with) over your solar plexus (about two fingers under your ribcage). Inhale slowly to the count of five, concentrating on pushing your hand out as you inhale into your stomach. Exhale out to the count of seven, concentrating on pulling your hand back in (or pulling your stomach toward your spine). Do this at least 10 times.
Open your eyes when you are ready.
Feel refreshed and more in control of yourself? It's likely you do. Research has show that breathing deeply throughout the day has a huge list of health benefits!
2. Take a Walk
Are you one of those people who chains themselves to their desks, never getting up until a project is finished or an issue solved? If there is an emergency at work, do you work through lunch?
If so, you are not alone. I'm guilty of doing this, too, believing that somehow pushing harder on a bad day would make me more productive or help me to force a solution to whatever problem I was facing.
You know what this attitude actually does? Makes you sicker, less energetic, and WAY more stressed out.
Worse, when you are pushing all the time, you can't get solutions that are trying to come through to you. In fact, what you are really doing is concentrating so hard on building a wall that will be strong enough to overcome whatever you are dealing with that you are blocking all the helper thoughts and people and possible solutions from getting anywhere near you.
My solution is simple: I know you don't want to, but go take a walk for at least 15 minutes. Let your mind relax. Focus on the sounds of nature or cars or whatever might be in your area. Breathe deeply.
Don't be surprised if you start getting "aha!" moments while you are wandering around. Once you take your focus away from the problem, your mind can connect to solutions.
Try it right now: Smile really big. Hold it...hold it...hold it...
Now, notice your mood. Do you feel a bit uplifted? A bit happier?
Very likely you do! When smile - even when you don't feel like it - you send signals to your brain that you are happy. In fact, neurotransmitters called endorphins (you know, the feel good chemicals) are released when you smile. It's a great way to feel better (and it's a whole lot safer) than Prozac!
There are a lot more benefits to smiling, but the best one is that you feel better - and so do those around you!
4. Listen to Music
As a dancer for most of my life, music is absolutely essential to me. In fact, I think music is really what emotions sound like, whether happy, sad, excited, or mellow.
If I really want to feel better fast, I jump in my Mini Cooper, roll down the windows, and put on some Pink, Cher, LL Cool J, or Justin Timberlake. I find that fast-paced music with a heavy beat seems to pump my mood up best of all. (Dancing around in my seat while singing at the top of my lungs doesn't hurt, either!)
Whatever music makes you feel happy, put that on. Smile. Sing. Dance like nobody's watching.
After about 10 minutes, life will seem a whole lot brighter.
While I can tell you that this works from experience, there's scientific proof, too. In fact, music releases dopamine (one of the other feel good chemicals in the brain), and that means you are feeling on top of the world in no time!
What are your secrets to getting through a bad day?