Having a bad day

Having a bad day? “Life is difficult.” So wrote M. Scott Peck at the opening to A Road Less Traveled.

Sometimes it’s a bad hair day. And sometimes it’s a whole lot more than hair that’s going bad! Sometimes everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Your stability feels threatened, and you’d just like to go away somewhere and forget everything.

I’m assuming you have thought through your life plan enough to know that you’re basically on track. You’re just in the middle of a major bump in the road. When you’re having a really bad day, here are some suggestions on what to do. Choose one, or two, or three, and see if you don’t feel more able to get through the difficulty:

  1. Take a walk. Exercise clears your mind, gets you away from the immediate problem, and may even increase those feel-good endorphins.
  2. Take a nap. Fatigue can make even normal stress feel overwhelming. A short nap can give you a you new perspective.
  3. Eat something. Not junk food – that may just clog your brain and make you feel even more stressed. But they don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing. Just choose thoughtfully.
  4. Count your blessings. “I once complained I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Pause and remember what IS good in your life.
  5. Ask for some help. A family member or friend may help lighten the load, and help you see things from a different point of view. We need each other.
  6. Get physical. Clean something, build something, work in the yard. Being physically active in a way you can visibly see results can be great therapy.
  7. Play some music. Listening to classical music, praise music, gospel music – uplifting, encouraging – can lift your soul and spirit.
  8. Read – or write – a Psalm. When David had a bad day, he wrote a Psalm. Reading one may express your own heart well. And you might try writing one yourself.
  9. Watch the birds. God’s creatures don’t worry or complain. Watching them can remind you of how much He cares for YOU.
  10. Do nothing. If nothing you can do will make a difference in the outcome, don’t do anything. Quit trying so hard. You don’t have to fix everything.
  11. Smile. The physical act of smiling has biological effects on your brain, helping you feel better. Smile with your whole face. Even if you don’t feel like it.
  12. Cuddle your pet. Unconditional love from your furry friend can do a lot to lift your spirits.
  13. Call a friend. Somebody has experienced something like the bad day you are having now. Just talking with someone about things can help.
  14. Check your to-do list. Change direction completely, and do something different – get the oil changed in the car, or go grocery shopping.
  15. Help someone. When you’re having a bad day, doing something nice for someone else is a great way to get your mind off your own troubles.
  16. Get a haircut, or a manicure. Doing something small and relatively inexpensive for yourself helps you remember that you’re worth something.
  17. Hug someone. Someone safe, of course. Ask for a hug specifically, if you need to. Hug your spouse, your child, your parent, your good friend.
  18. Pray. Beg and cry and plead for a little while if you need to. Then just settle in and be in God’s presence. He’ll have something to say if you listen.

That’s 18 possibilities for how to handle a bad day. If you want an even 20, that leaves 2 for you to come up with on your own. You may have something you like to do that lifts your spirits. Make note of it, and be responsible for taking advantage of that next time you have a bad day.

Sometimes you just need to “encourage yourself” as David did. (See 1 Sam 30:6)

Your turn: What are your favorite things to do when you’re having a bad day? How do you take action to lift your spirits? I’d love to hear from you.

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