A Bad Day and how to survive it!

So yesterday was a totally unproductive day, some would say a wasted day. You know the sort, we’ve all had them before, everything is wrong, nothing is right.

But I would go further than that, the whole day feels flat and bland, you look outside and even if the weather is good and the view is nice it feels like you are observing it from afar, like flicking through the television channels, there is no connection.

A day like this can start from the moment you open your eyes, laying in bed listening to the alarm, thinking ‘really, already’. As a morning person this very rarely happens to me, I am up and on into that military-style routine of tea making, teeth cleaning and breakfast preparation. 

If you are not a morning person I can only imagine how hard it is, to motivate legs that feel like lead, rubbing non existent sleep from heavy eyes.

Once all the essential tasks are completed, what next? A quick scan through the mental ‘to do’ list produces minimal interest and the paper diary (yes I confess, I love a paper diary) remains tightly shut on the desk.

And here’s where the fatal error slips in, that little head chatter voice that quietly whispers ‘ we could have a quick look at the news on the iPad’ Of course this leads to that low-level motivation sinking even deeper, there is nothing in the news, regardless of what is actually happening in the big wide world that is going to re-ignite any inspiration or motivation.

So there we are, finger hovering over the Facebook icon, now don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of Facebook, I have many friends and acquaintances, I can keep up to date with all sorts of events and dramas. But and it’s a big but, when in this sort of mood I find myself surfing aimlessly through, reading little, commenting even less, unless of course, it’s about Doris’s 99th birthday (Who’s Doris? I dunno!) or that lost dog post which after sharing you realise is two years old!!!!!!

Right, enough Facebook, another cup of tea? Why not, it’s only 9.30 there’s still a whole day to get through. That heavy dull feeling is still there, sitting on your chest or in the pit of your stomach. Perhaps a few phone calls would make me feel better. No, I can’t speak to people when I feel like this, I might make them feel the same.

Breakfast telly? Noooooo……………..

What about some LinkedIn or Instagram? boring. All those beautiful shiny people, grinning from ear to ear telling us all how well they’ve done. I bet they never have an ‘I can’t be bothered day’. And suddenly here we are, right at the nub of the matter, that feeling of having an off day can be magnified and multiplied contrasting and comparing our real selves to the false gods and goddesses that are so regularly worshipped across all media platforms.

So let’s have a look, let’s regroup and rebalance. The first thing to say is, ‘it is okay to have an easy day, a down day, a bit of a ‘mare’ day. It goes without saying that if this is your every day it is time to reach out and share those feelings. But if it’s a now and again thing it isn’t the end of the world, you have not failed as a human being.

Let’s have a quick look at the ‘olden days’. When I was a child growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, Sundays were pretty much the same every week. Get up a bit later, none of this lounging in bed for hours though, cooked breakfast, play outside. Dad washed the car, cut the grass, messed about in his shed whilst mum cooked the dinner; Yorkshire puddings and onion gravy, followed by roast beef, followed by leftover Yorkshires with golden syrup or homemade jam. 

Mum and Dad retired to the living room to watch whatever film was on the television and my brothers and I spent the next hour washing up with a bit of arguing and bickering thrown in. No shops open, nowhere to go unless it was a ride out to the coast in the height of summer.

Not the most exciting days but that was the point, it was a day to relax, to recharge, to potter about, to play outside with the neighbours’ kids when everyone in the street did the same thing. I cannot remember my father ever saying ‘well that was a waste of a day’. Because actually it wasn’t, it was preparation for the following week, insurance against getting ill or being too tired to do the toil that lay ahead.

Anyway, I have digressed, back to how to reconcile a non-productive day, a feeling a bit mardy day into something else.

Firstly, accept it for what it is, acknowledge how your mind is feeling, do not judge it in any way; it is what it is.

When you are comfortable with that acceptance perhaps you could just ask ‘I wonder why’ my mind is thinking like this? It could be that you have worked hard physically for several days and you need some rest and relaxation. Maybe you have been dealing with some complex or difficult emotional issues that have caused your mind to be in a constant state of high alert. Please remember these things do not have to be negative things, a twenty-mile walk that was extremely enjoyable will still make your legs tired. Getting a promotion whilst exciting could at the same time be nerve-racking and cause a few sleepless nights.

Or there might be a stony silence, it could just be ‘one of those things’ accept it, get used to it….now deal with it, but how?

  1. Acceptance, it is what it is, getting angry, upset, grinding teeth and pulling of hair is not going to make things better.
  2. Are there things that really, really, really have to be done now, today? Be super strict with these; taking the dog out, feeding the kids, buying essential supplies, keep this to the minimum. Only choose things that will cause more pain if not done.
  3. Go for some quick wins; put a load of washing on, plump the cushions on the sofa, empty the bin. See how these create some movement, some energy.
  4. Rewards, you’ve come off the starting block, you’ve done a few things (regardless of how long they took). Have a coffee, a bath, breathe slowly and calmly, give yourself some praise for what you have achieved so far.
  5. Review the situation; Do you still feel the same? If so, go back to step 1., then revisit steps 2 and 3
  6. Back to rewards; breathe slowly and calmly, give yourself more praise and choose something nice to do, maybe watch a film or episode of a favourite show, go out in the garden and amble about for ten minutes.
  7. Review the situation – are you getting the idea, go for tiny steps and when you review ask the question; Do I feel the same? If the answer is no, I actually feel a bit brighter, lighter or altogether heading up the normality scale then you have two choices, either continue having a steady, be kind to yourself sort of day following steps 1-4 or add in a couple of more challenging tasks and just as importantly a couple more challenging rewards, remembering always to breathe slowly and calmly and give yourself praise.

And just so you know, I watched too much news and Facebook, put in a load of washing’ watched a whole film on Netflix, dug the compost heap and went to bed at 8.30 pm.

Heather Wood

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