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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

How to Deal When it's Just Not Your Day

We’ve all had one of those days.

You know what I’m talking about—you wake up, and for whatever reason everything is harder than it needs to be. You spill your coffee, lose your keys, trip on your way out the door, get an annoying text, and hate your outfit the second you get to the office. And all that’s before you find your inbox overflowing, jump on a call you weren’t prepared for, and attend a meeting that doesn’t go your way. It’s official—today is a bad day, and it’s not even lunchtime.

So, how do you get through it?

Well, there are two main tactics you can take—trying to turn things around by being positive or self-indulging. Personally, I like to mix it up with a little bit of both. Here are a few ideas to help you do the same.

Positive: Throw Yourself Into Your Work

If you’re frustrated and upset at work, what better way to work out your frustrations than by getting a ton of stuff done? Keeping your head down, turning on that “do not disturb” message, and channeling your negative energy into knocking out a few hours of solid, actual work can help you not only get your sanity back, but also get ahead.

Self-Indulgent: Watch Videos Online

We all do it now and then anyway, so why not take a break and watch a video at your desk to cheer yourself up? Almost everyone can turn to cat videos—that’s a given (and studies show that they actually improve productivity). But also try out some other crowd-pleasers—people getting surprises for their birthdays, Dirty Dancing montages, clips from your favorite movies, or that one where the lion reunites with his trainers after years in the wild. (Gets me every time!)

Positive: Be There for Someone Else

I know it sounds a little Disney Princess, but when you can’t control everything in your own life, it’s nice to do what you can for someone else. Try treating a co-worker to a coffee break, complimenting a stranger, sending your old buddies a quick email to say you’re thinking about them, or better yet, asking someone else how his or her day is going. In my experience, even a little effort to help others can go a long way in making you feel better about yourself.

Self-Indulgent: Freak Out to a Friend

Once in a while, the only thing that can really help you get over something is to vent. So go for it. Have a bitch session to a co-worker or friend to get it all off your chest. If nobody is around to talk to, then try opening up an email and pouring your heart out to an old friend. Chances are, you’ll feel so good you won’t even need to press send.

Positive: Go Outside for a Walk

Sometimes taking a breath—a real breath of real air—can really help you center yourself. Getting out of the office, even for a minute or two, can help you clear your head and get some perspective. Walk to the corner to get some coffee, sit alone in your car and close your eyes, or go to the courtyard for a few moments of peace and quiet.

Self-Indulgent: Eat Some Cheese

OK, so it doesn’t have to be cheese—any special treat can help cheer you up. No, it may not be the “healthiest” behavior to feed your pain with something indulgent. But hey, you’re only human, and if some Brie or fro-yo is going to help you turn your day around, then go for it.

When things aren’t going your way, it’s natural to indulge a little, and it’s wonderful to find positive outlets for your frustrations. But when you’re really feeling down, you may need to use both methods. So, keep a balance. Have your cake (or cheese or cat videos or freak out) and eat it, too—then go for a run and call your mom. Somewhere in the mix, you just may turn things around.

Photo of stressed woman courtesy of Shutterstock.