Having a bad day at work? We all have them. One of those days when the world seems to be against you at every turn. Your alarm doesn't go off, the bus is late and you keep randomly apologising to inanimate objects as you bash into them in an attempt to pull yourself together.
To top it off you're probably having a bad hair day and you have this nagging feeling you've forgotten something important.
Well, first of all it's okay not to be okay sometimes. You're human. Also, there's actually a valid reason you're bumping into things and making mistakes. According to Susan David, author of Emotional Agility, this simply means we have stopped being 'present' and got lost in an emotional cycle. This means that if you're having a bad day, while it's tempting to just give up and succumb to your bad day demons, it's entirely possible to turn it around. Here's 5 ways to do that so you can stop failing and start winning.
1. Just stop for a moment and be present
Carrying on a full pace as you are isn't going to help you achieve anything. As mentioned earlier, if you are falling through your day then you have stopped being present and need to be more mindful. This doesn't mean you have to assume a buddha position and meditate but you could do with some time out - even if that's 5-minutes. Just take a moment to make a cuppa or get some air and breathe. If you really don't feel comfortable doing that in your workplace head to the bathroom - anywhere that you can be still will do at this point.
In that moment try to clear your thoughts either by looking at a distant view or using an object or point in the room to focus on. Once your inner voice finally switches off stay in that silence and just breathe. Whatever happened today has happened. It's gone. All you have is you and this moment. Using the techniques in Emotional Agility you can now:
- Be present - review what is actually happening
Chances are by now you are overthinking everything and probably feeling anxious about something someone has done or said to you. Now is the time to review what actually happened. How much of the emotions you are feeling are because of this situation and how many are from a past experience? More than likely what happened isn't as bad as you thought.
- Make a plan - decide what you are going to do about it
Now that you have more distance and perspective on what has happened, what can you actually do about it today? Whatever it is make a decision and take that action, even if that action is to let it slide and come back to the problem tomorrow when you have more distance.
- Let it go - accept your decision and move on
Whatever you decided to do is now done. It's time to let it go and continue on through your day without overthinking or returning to the same issue.
2. Go out for lunch today
Too many of us have a working lunch or stay within the office walls during our lunch hour. Do yourself a favour and actually use your lunch break today. Even if you feel the pressure to make a deadline you will be much more productive when you return and you know it. Ditch that lunch box sandwich and treat yourself. In fact, why not invite some other colleagues out to join you so you can get some mood boosting socialising in while you're at it?
Not got the funds for a treat? Take that sandwich with you and head outside to a park or somewhere with some natural surroundings. Even one tree or distant landscape can help you to expand your mind and widen your perspective. Clearing your head so when you go back into the office your day starts to look up.
3. Stop emailing and start talking
If you're mood set in after a disagreement or email induced misunderstanding just pull that person aside and have a chat. What they actually meant or intended is more than often never as bad as what you imagine it to be. Human interaction is also something we push aside way too often in the office, so talking to your colleagues in person or suggesting a brainstorm session if you're feeling flat will make all the difference.
4. Use the 80:20 rule to make progress
If you feel down your less productive, the less you achieve the more down you feel - it's a vicious cycle. If you're feeling overwhelmed by a long list of tasks but not getting anywhere closer to actually tackling it then the 80:20 rule could help break the cycle. Basically, the idea is you need to pick the task that takes the least time but gives you the greatest result. For example, let's say your list looks something like this:
- Write a PR draft for review next week
- Respond to your boss's email with ideas for a new project
- Finish running a report due end of play
Consider which one of those will deliver the most value and reward for the least time and do it first. In this case, responding to the bosses email with ideas would be a good move. You make your boss happy and tapping into your creativity for ideas could ignite some motivation for the next two tasks.
5. Listen to music or bust some moves
The Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to upbeat music could improve their moods and boost their happiness. In a study, visiting professor of psychology at Saint Xavier University Jeff Miller Ph.D also found that even a brief walk can have immediate psychological benefits, he said:
"If you are feeling disengaged or sluggish, and you desire to energize yourself, take a brisk walk around the block or through the cubicles… Your feelings of engagement will very likely increase, and all those things you might have wanted to be doing should seem less imposing."
There you have it. So, if all else fails then go for a walk and stick those headphones so you can blast away your bad mood with a feel good playlist and some adrenaline. Not able to leave the office? Well, then listening to music at your desk it is and there's no harm in a little chair dancing - assuming your job isn't customer facing.
None of it working? Maybe it's time to plan your escape
Did you know that over half of us are unhappy in our jobs? Therefore it stands to reason you could be one of them. If this is not your first bad day this week and none of these techniques are working, maybe it's the job. Perhaps in your case a bad mood is your subconscious mind's way of telling you to move on. Have a read of our career change tips to see if it's time for you to take the leap and move on. Better yet if you need a mood boost check out our list of 6 inspirational movies to watch before you make a career change.