Bad days. We all have them.
Whether our irritations result from problems at work—like managing a difficult boss—or issues at home, we have more control over the momentum of each day than we think.
Thousands of thoughts barrage us each day. But just like advertisements, we choose to focus on only a handful of those thoughts—usually the ones with the most emotional power.
If our thoughts are positive and productive, they will lift our mood. But when our thoughts are critical or negative, they will fuel our bad day.
The good news is that we can control our thoughts.
When we find ourselves stuck in patterns of chronic thought, we can shift our awareness by deliberately focusing on something else—something healthier.
This is not to suggest that we ignore problems or serious situations. Instead, we can deliberately shift ourselves away from “stinking thinking” by accepting situations and people as they are and then turning our attention to creating positive momentum. Usually the things we worry about the most are either out of our control or haven’t even happened and never will.
The key to breaking the momentum of a bad day is to create our own healthy distractions.
So, the next time you find yourself in a grumpy grind, try one of these quick tips—or think of your own—to help bring you some rapid relief:
Take Deep Breaths. The power of breath has been scientifically proven to slow the heart and relieve stress, especially during difficult times. Besides the physical benefits, stopping and breathing consciously can slow the momentum of negative thoughts, help to calm our worries, and reconnect us with our quiet spiritual intuition.
Change The Focus. Pay attention to what and whom you are paying attention to. Does focusing on that thought or person make you feel better or worse? Remember: Whatever you pay attention to will grow—whether it’s something you want or don’t want. So, when you find yourself focusing on something or someone you can’t accept or understand, shifting focus back to yourself will help. Best rule of thumb? Keep the focus on yourself in a healthy way. What others are doing is out of your control.
Write It Down. Having annoying thoughts that won’t give you a break? Take five minutes and write them down on a piece of paper—or create a note in your phone—and get them out of your head. Just a few minutes of purging our negative or persistent thoughts can create a space for relief. When in doubt, get it out.
Talk It Out. Similar to writing down thoughts, simply putting words to our crappy day can create a significant shift in our attitude. Call a friend or meet up for lunch or coffee. Having someone validate our feelings may be all it takes for us to find relief; good friends were created for precisely this purpose.
Take A Tech Break. Unplugging from the net is not only helpful, it’s essential in our accelerating world—especially with the proliferation of fake news. Online chatter and social media will go on without us, and taking a break from escaping into cyberspace and giving our physical friends and family the benefit of our time and attention will always get a big “Like”—maybe even a hug or two.
Find Your Happy Place. Think about those activities and environments that bring you happiness. Do you like to exercise? Then go for a walk during lunchtime. How about music? Try playing a favorite song. Or perhaps it’s spending a few minutes engaged in something like reading or playing a game that will bring a quick shift in your mood. Find what works and use those solutions on your down days.
We are always the only ones responsible for our attitude. The best way we can support ourselves is to keep learning about what brings us feelings of well-being and then remembering to activate them on our bad days. Over time, we may find that better days will prevail more often.
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg helps people maintain balance during transitions in their work, relationships, and life. Learn more at michaelsunnarborg.com