You wake up late after hitting the snooze button too many times. You stumble into the office with coffee stains on your tie. A calendar reminder about a mandatory meeting you forgot about pops up at the worst time. Your incompetent boss wants to talk to you about putting a cover sheet on all TPS reports. And, if things weren’t bad enough, you realize you forgot to wear a belt today.
We’ve all been there before: the dreaded bad day at work.
Most American workers are setup to experience a bad day at work from the start. They just need that final push over the edge. A Gallup poll released earlier this year finds only 31.5% of employees are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their jobs. This percentage has been on the upswing in recent years, but still leaves 51% of workers not engaged and 17.5% actively disengaged. Managers, executives, and officers have the highest levels of engagement at 38.4% – not encouraging considering how much time people spend at work.
Truth be told, a day is only as bad as you allow it to be. When your mental state shifts from optimism to pessimism, you’ll need to take action to stem the cascade of negativity that is waiting to flow, especially around the workplace. Let’s take a look at three simple ways to survive a bad day.
1. Get away
Taking time for yourself and clearing your head can help to keep you sane during a bad day. If your morning is already terrible before you even get to work, consider taking a sick day if possible. If you are already at work when your day goes downhill, step away from your workspace and get some fresh air. Changing your surroundings by going on a 20-minute walk has been scientifically proven to alter brain activity for the better. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh say walking through green spaces dampen brain fatigue. Meanwhile, sun exposure can reduce feelings of sluggishness and boost productivity.
Furthermore, taking a break from your desk gets you away from the people around you. The last thing you need is to snap at a coworker or go off on your boss. That could turn a bad day into a bad permanent situation at work. More importantly, it gives you a chance to recollect your thoughts and realize your life probably isn’t as bad as it seems in your moment of office despair.
2. Listen to music
Music is the universal language that cures several ailments, including a bad mood. Collective Evolution (CE) lists seven key ways how music benefits our health, such as making us happier, reducing pain and depression, and even improving sleep quality which can then help lead to a better day.
“[M]usic has the power to do so much. It can make you feel happy, sad, excited or even pumped up,” explains CE’s Joe Martino. “Listening to music that hits you in a special way causes your brain to release dopamine which is known as a feel good chemical. It causes us to feel emotions like happiness, excitement, joy, etc. Listening to music provides us with the same burst of happiness that we would get from eating a piece of chocolate, sex or certain drugs. Another study showed that music with a quick tempo played in a major key made people feel happy, while music with a slow tempo in a minor key more easily led to feelings of sadness.”
If allowed, try plugging in some headphones for a few minutes to help lift your spirit during a bad day at work. If your employer doesn’t allow any music, try taking that walk we discussed earlier with music, or even relax in your car for a few minutes with your favorite tunes.
Your work may not be fun, even when you’re not having a bad day, but finding a way to laugh can help improve the day. HelpGuide.org notes that laughter relaxes your muscles for up to 45 minutes, boosts the immune system by decreasing stress hormones, triggers the release of endorphins (the body’s natural feel-good chemicals), and protects the heart by improving the function of blood vessels and blood flow.
The site explains, “Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.”
You can find ways to laugh by visiting with a coworker you find funny, watching a funny clip on your smartphone, looking up funny jokes on the Internet, or simply checking out humorous postings at Reddit.