Bad days can come in different flavors.
There’s the “less than stellar” day that we simply shrug off and hope for something better tomorrow. And then there are those days that are a total train wreck, and we regret that we got out of bed.
While dealing with the ongoing challenge of getting things done despite difficulties, I’ve found that taking time for reflection can smooth down the edges of a rough day.
Writing in my journal is my favorite way of doing some reflection, but even taking some time for quiet contemplation can help.
Evenings or before bedtime are great opportunities to take a moment to figure out what exactly went right today, even if everything else was a mess.
Here are some of my favorite questions to contemplate after having a tough day:
Today I enjoyed… (Anything that made you happy today)
Today I experienced flow when … (Any moment you lost track of time or was in the “zone” and you liked it, no matter how small)
Tomorrow I am… (Anything you are hoping for or will do)
What is one small thing I can do today that will make tomorrow better?
What tiny things can I do tomorrow to start the day right?
When did I look and feel my best today?
What moments of serendipity happened today?
What challenged me today? How will I overcome it?
Hopefully thinking on these things and even writing about them will boost your determination to face tomorrow.
Sometimes we simply have a bad day. Other times we experience situations that severely impair what we can do.
In February of 2021, I came off caffeine very quickly. Little did I know that the withdrawal would trigger my panic attacks for the next three months. My anxiety had a major impact on my daily functioning. At that time, I had to offload as many tasks as I could so I could focus on getting better.
If you’re facing grief, mental illness, burnout, injury, physical illness or anything else that’s keeping you from doing what you used to, I want you to know that getting better is way more important than getting things done. Healing is now your priority.
And by getting better, I don’t mean just physically. Sometimes we face things that our bodies cannot repair. We experience events in our lives that we have to ride through.
However, when facing situations that drastically change our levels of functioning, our brains need plenty of time to understand the situation, accept it, and re-adapt. This is healing too.
The ability to offload responsibilities can vary a lot from person to person. But here are some things that helped me to do less and not obsess as I was recovering:
- Create a “Don’t Worry” list. Make a list of things you won’t worry about until you come to grips with the situation.
- Take days off from having a to-do list. If you need to organize your thoughts, journal instead.
- If you can handle having a to-do list, make your tasks smaller. Experiment with doing tasks that can be handled in small chunks of time. For example, within five or ten minutes.
- See your to-do list as a list of suggestions and reminders.
- Don’t be ashamed to reduce cooking meals and house care.
- Remember that it’s always okay to try again tomorrow. Appointments can be rescheduled, and tasks can be pushed back.
Please remember that getting a hold on your situation will make you more productive in the long run than recklessly trying to push through it. Make taking care of yourself and healing the center of your daily plan.
The last two years have been very difficult for everyone. 2020 and 2021 are entire years that didn’t go as planned. But those detours provided the needed opportunities to rethink our lives.
I hope that the prompts and suggestions in this post will help you to rethink bad days when they show up and find ways to appreciate the little things.
If you’re looking for more inspiration on how small steps can make a difference, you will like my latest book, The Little Book of Tiny Tasks: Make your life more calm while getting things done five minutes at a time, which is now available at your favorite retailer.
And if you know anyone who could benefit from this post, feel free to share it with them. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it!
Have thoughts about this post?