It’s estimated that the average person spends 90,000 hours of their life working. A huge portion of our life is spent on the job. No matter how you slice it, that means we’re all bound to have a bad day at work every once in a while.
Between tight deadlines, challenging customers, and conflicting personalities at work, there’s no shortage of potential problems to dampen our day. But how we choose to navigate those inevitable bad days can define our productivity, success, and fulfillment at work.
In fact, according to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, “studies show that when you’re positive, you’re 31% more productive, you’re 40% more likely to receive a promotion, you have 23% fewer health-related effects from stress, and your creativity rates triple.”
So, how do you turn a bad workday around and reap all of these amazing benefits? Try these five tips.
1. Stop What You’re Doing and Take a Walk
No matter how stressed or pressed for time you are, you won’t solve the bad day problem in your current mindset. So, take even five minutes to shake things up by changing your location and moving your body. This will help you overcome a bad day at work.
When you remove yourself from the pressure of the moment and give yourself a new setting, it often creates just enough psychological space to gain a new perspective on the situation. Plus, exercise increases our brain’s production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which helps us to feel motivated and happy and can shift your mood entirely.
2. Figure Out What’s Really Bothering You
The trouble with bad days is it can feel like everything is going wrong and, therefore, be impossible to take specific action to improve it. So, rather than get caught up in your emotional spiral, get right to the root of the problem: What’s really bothering you?
Are you upset about something at home that’s transferring over to your work life? Are you annoyed with a colleague or client? Are you frustrated with your work? Are you anxious about a deadline?
Answering these questions allows you to turn around a bad day at work. When you can disentangle the emotional web and pinpoint exactly what the most pressing underlying problem is, you’re empowered to take clear, specific action on that problem.
It’s worth taking just a few minutes to pause and think critically or journal about what’s getting to you so that you can solve it once and for all.
3. Put Things Into Perspective
Bad days come and go, but if you’re staying at a job, there must be a reason. To connect back in with the deeper why.
Do you love helping your clients and customers? Do you love your income to support your family? Can you identify any place where you’ve made someone’s life better through your work?
The truth is, no matter how much we love our jobs, there are just going to be some less glamorous aspects and—quite frankly—bad days. But it’s a lot easier to navigate those periodic hiccups when we can put them back into perspective and remember our bigger why for doing this work.
4. Talk It Out and Get Support
The only thing worse than a bad day is feeling like you’re all alone in the misery. To shift out of it, you’ve got to get some support.
If it’s appropriate, chat about your situation with colleagues. If not, step outside for a quick text or phone call with a friend or loved one to vent about your day. It’s helpful to speak your feelings out loud and get some outside perspective. The trick, though, is to make sure that you don’t fall down the rabbit hole of commiseration and making yourself more upset.
So, to keep it a healthy venting session, make sure to keep things focused on your feelings (as opposed to what others did to you) and what actionable steps you can take in the future. And that support doesn’t need to be limited to the bad day. If it’s a long-standing issue, it can be invaluable to get support from a mental health professional or, if appropriate, human resources at work to prevent further bad days.
5. Listen to Some Background Music
Music has a profound impact on our emotional state. Upbeat music can make us happier, sad music can make us sadder—and everything in between. In fact, research finds that upbeat music can call back happy memories, which can take you out of this bad day and back to those moments.
So, if you’re feeling a little down at work, put on some of your favorite music to quickly shift your mood and snap out of it.
There is a caveat, though. If you’re wanting to think critically, it’s best to stick to music you’re already familiar with or music without lyrics, so you aren’t getting too caught up in it. But if you’re doing repetitive work like data entry, any music can make you more efficient.
So, the next time you’re feeling a bit down on work, take a moment to pump the jams.
The Bottom Line
With all of the time we spend working, bad days are inevitable. Even the most prepared of us can’t prevent every challenge we’ll face. So, we need tools to pull us out of the misery and back into happiness, fulfillment, and productivity.
With a few bad day “first-aid tips” up our sleeves, we can take on anything the workday throws at us.
More Tips to Overcome a Bad Day at Work
- 9 Things to Remember When You’re Having a Bad Day
- How to Get Motivated to Work and Start off Your Day with Positivity
- How to Find Work Motivation When You’re Unfulfilled at Work
Featured photo credit: Avel Chuklanov via unsplash.com
|||^||Psychology Today: Finding Happiness at Work|
|||^||Harvard Business Review: Positive Intelligence|
|||^||Neurobiology of Disease: Regulation of Brain Function by Exercise|
|||^||Organization Studies: Griping and Joking as Identification Rituals and Tools for Engagement in Cross-Boundary Team Meetings|
|||^||Behavioral and Brain Sciences: Emotional Responses to Music|
|||^||Memory & Cognition: Emotional Cues Impact the Access and Experience of Autobiographical Memories|
|||^||Work: Background Music – Effects on Attention Performance|