11 things to remind yourself when you have a bad day

By Meredith Tombs on December 2, 2015

Some days are a struggle. Sometimes, it seems like our struggles outweigh any semblance of good that might be present in our lives.

Like the other day, when I had to lock myself in a bathroom in my high school so I could cry alone during lunch. Classic high school drama, you might think…and that’s true – kind of.

See, I’m not a high school student – I’m a high school teacher. (Okay, student-teacher. But still!) I hope it’s not terrifying for you to realize that we have difficult days, too. In fact, I hope this serves as an enlightening piece that perhaps opens your eyes to not only your own needs and emotions, but also to those of all the people around you.

Photo Credit: ladymoonbeam.wordpress.com

So remember:

1. You’re not the only one having a bad day!

I promise. There are over 7 billion people in this world, and there are tough situations for everyone. You are certainly not alone, so take comfort in the fact that the world is not singling you out and dumping all of these struggles on you and you alone.

2. But it’s okay to feel like you’re the only one struggling.

…for a little while. Vent to your best friend, roommate, blog, mom, dog, counselor – it’s okay to have the focus be on you for a bit. Get your emotions out there and off your chest. Ask for advice if you need it. It certainly isn’t selfish to share your struggles with somebody, and it’s likely that they’ll be able to share their own experiences or at least some encouraging words and a friendly shoulder whenever you’re in need.

3. Ice cream can be a strong ally.

Go ahead – indulge. A little bit of sweetness or saltiness or carb-ey-ness or whatever it is you’re craving can go a long way. Be careful not to overindulge, of course – but it’s a good idea to take a mental and gustatory vacation from whatever it is that’s stressing you out. I’m no doctor, but a bowlful (or two) of Mint Moose Tracks has cured innumerable long days for me.

4. So can exercise.

Getting physically active is an incredible way to relieve stress. If running or going to the gym isn’t for you, you can hop on a bike or grab a friend for a walk; check out some yoga or Zumba routines downtown or online; jump rope, pick up some weights, or just blast Pandora and dance it out! Even though it might seem easier to just curl up for a nap or more productive to keep staring at your computer, you need to give your mind and emotions a break and get a physical workout, instead.

5. Crying doesn’t make you weak.

Congratulations – you’re a real human! Crying is a completely natural response to any number of negative (or even positive) stimuli. Repressing that instinct can actually lead to a worse mental and emotional state down the road, so take a breather and let out a few tears. Heck, introduce your bed to a Nicholas Sparks film so you have something to blame your tears on and an excuse to veg out for an hour or two.

6. Remember – you’re upset because you care.

And that’s awesome. You care about this -whatever it is!- enough that it has this strong of an impact on you. For me, I care about my kids in the classroom. I care about making a difference in their lives, helping them see the world in a different way, and encouraging them discover new pieces of themselves. Whatever it is that drives you, it’s important, and this is a side effect of caring. You’re not an emotionless robot: you’re a sensitive, compassionate person who is willing to work hard in order to make important things work out. Keep it up!

7. Add a little something to your life.

Find a way that helps you relieve stress, and make it part of your routine. Set time aside to read a book or write in your journal; try knitting or cardio; volunteer at an animal shelter or senior center – whatever it is, look for an activity that means something to you, something that gets you busy and helps you feel content. Having a way to distract yourself from whatever it is in your life making you blue, paired with a sense of accomplishment, will result in a much less stressed environment (not to mention a cool scarf or some new friends).

8. Contextualize – think about the big picture.

In the grand scheme of things, how important is this, actually? Like, actually actually. When you’re sitting on your porch in 20, 40, 60 years thinking about how quickly your life went by, is this going to be the make or break point of your existence as a good human being? Or do you think you might be wishing you didn’t spend so much time fixated on these negative details when you could have been focusing on some more meaningful pieces of your life instead? I’m pretty sure that my fondest formative memories are going to be the ones where I see myself making a difference, making someone smile, learning something about the world or about myself – not sure that forgetting to hand back quizzes or losing a student’s writing response are the stories I’ll be telling my grandkids.

9. Now, refocus.

Why is this so important to you in the first place? Remember why you started undertaking this particular project, or why you got involved with this significant person, or why you chose to follow this career. Go back to the basics – refocus your energy and emotions on the positives that got you excited about this part of your life in the first place. And if life in general is stressing you out, then think about some of the smaller pieces of your life that make you happy and make your life valuable and worthwhile. Write them down and remember them! Hanging up Post-Its around my room gives me a quick motivational reminder every single day of what I need to focus on in my life.

10. Prioritize.

What do you need to focus on? What steps do you need to take in order to take control of this situation? I usually end up making a To-Do list of everything that needs to get done; having a physical list to reference can be extremely helpful in remembering details and tasks that otherwise might escape your memory and drive you crazy. This is an easy way to avoid an extra source of stress. Not to mention, there’s great satisfaction to be had when you’re finally able to cross off all those tasks you finally get done!

11. Be kind to others.

Being aware of not only your own emotional state, but also how others might be feeling, can be tough to do. But extending a kind word or action to someone else can brighten that person’s day AND your own. I always feel better just smiling at someone walking by or holding the door for the person a little bit behind me. It might seem a bit silly to make an effort for somebody else, especially someone you might not even know, but it’s always nice to find that the world isn’t actually all that bad – and we’re the ones who can make it that way.

So hang in there. To put it in perspective, at least you weren’t crying in your high school bathroom today. (And if you were, then you weren’t the only one. I’ve been there. I made it out. You will, too.) Embrace the lessons life throws at you – it’s how we grow into the people we are meant to become.

Born & raised at the Jersey Shore. Graduated Gettysburg College - not sure if I should laugh or cry, so I'm doing a little of each. Looking to become a high school English teacher - and so here we are.

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