January blues are no joke. Sure, bad days can strike at any time. A toxic person making you feel less-than, a shaky patch in your work, studies, or personal life. But that rainy-January-Monday-morning feeling most of us know too well only seems to make even the smallest of annoyances an unbearable burden. But don’t worry we’ve got some tips on how to get through even the toughest of days!
The 4 Steps To Surviving A Bad Day
1. Starting the day on a positive note
This all starts with the struggle to motivate ourselves to get out of bed, only made worse when, upon opening the curtains, we are greeted by dimly-lit drizzle, the anticipation of a long slog of a commute and everything else that follows. To minimise this morning despair which affects so many of us, the best thing you can do is get to bed early, to make sure that sleep deprivation isn’t intensifying your tiredness, apathy, and irritability – as often is the case.
Further steps you can take could be prepping a healthy and mood-boosting breakfast the night before, such as overnight oats, which may help to entice you out of your bed and ensure a nutritious and energising start to your otherwise challenging day.
You can also incorporate any rituals which you know personally tend to enhance your mood. One of the things we always recommend is practising gratitude. Start your day off by listing 3 things you’re grateful for and you’ll already feel better about the day ahead or if a certain type of music always manages to lift you up, then be sure to play it while you get ready, or even use an app to set it as your alarm. If you love reading, then allow a little time each morning to do this – even just for 20 minutes. This doesn’t have to be an evening-only activity! You could also try listening to a motivational podcast or TED Talk while you have breakfast or during your commute to get you in a better mindset.
2. Surviving through a difficult day
But what about once you arrive at work or at the place you’ve been dreading and you still can’t shake off the mood? Just remember that this is all it is: a mood, an attitude. It is not the reality that is directly causing you anguish, but just your attitude towards it. Admittedly, there are some objectively miserable moments in life and it’s not that it’s all in your head. Rather, the way that we mentally approach even the most difficult of situations can have a huge effect on our wellbeing throughout the ordeal.
If it’s the fear of others’ opinions of you or your work which is the core of your distress, then learn to dismiss this external validation as a requisite for your inner-happiness. Sometimes we have to impress others for practical reasons, sure, but this shouldn’t be your inner purpose. Darling, the only approval you really need is your own!
Be sure to take deep breaths whenever you feel things are getting too much. The power of breath has been proven by scientists to have a profound effect on our anxiety levels and overall mood. And if you find yourself overly sensitive to setbacks, criticisms, or other daily stresses, then learn how to embrace your sensitivity and use it to your advantage at work.
Experiment with mantras – a positively affirming phrase or sentence to deter negative thinking and boost your motivation. Having some go-to mantras to say in your head once things get tough may be just enough to spur you on and not let your challenges get the better of you.
Give yourself little rewards throughout the day. This could be in the form of a daily tea or coffee at a time of the day where things tend to get overwhelming (mid-afternoon for most). Allow yourself a few minutes a day to take a brisk walk – this will clear your head and serve as a temporary escape from whatever difficulties have a hold on you that day. Don’t forget that you are a human being with needs and emotions – and that rest is essential for anyone to thrive.
3. Returning Home: self-care that bad day away
Although it may seem like the last thing you feel like doing after a demanding day, working out after a long day of work or study can help in so many ways. Whether hardcore cardio or a calming yoga class, getting your body moving will not only get the endorphins pumping but will also improve circulation to your brain, refreshing your system and acting as a welcome distraction to the daily grind.
Some true relaxation is definitely in order though – so you should definitely incorporate something calming into your post-work routine. Whether that be in the form of a face mask, a hot bath, meditation, a catch-up with a close friend, reading – or all of the above!
Dinner should be another priority once you come home. Make sure it is nutritious, balanced, and full of as many mood-boosting ingredients as you can manage! Some of the many examples include avocado, lentils, brazil nuts, and spinach. If you tend to be too tired to prepare something proper at this time, then meal prep at the weekends – you will thank yourself later! It’s also especially important at this time of year to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, as this too could be a contributing factor to your low mood.
4. Rounding up a bad day (and sleeping it off)
How you end a difficult day can not only affect how you process it and move forward, but can also prevent these negative feelings for seeping into the following day. Stop the cycle!
Take some time to reflect before you go to bed on what you found difficult about today, and what you learned from it. Focusing on the positive lessons you can take away rather than the struggle itself not only shifts your perspective, but also encourages productivity and self-improvement. This could mean writing a gratitude journal to focus on what, despite the challenges, you are grateful for today if you didn’t do that this morning and if you did, reflect on the day and see if you’ve found new things to be grateful for.. Nowadays, most of us seldom write more than a few words on a post-it here and there by hand, but this act in itself can be therapeutic, especially when it’s to express your inner thoughts for no one’s eyes but your own.
Sipping some herbal tea in the lead-up to bedtime can have both a calming and cleansing effect. Experiment with different herbal blends which you find uplifting – though chamomile and peppermint are popular, there are so many others to choose from! Experiment with different spices such as cinnamon, turmeric and ginger, for their mood-boosting qualities. One of the most powerful herbs for the mood is saffron. A notoriously expensive product, very little goes a long way! Try just a pinch with hot water and any other ingredients you’d like to add, and you’re sure to benefit from this ancient remedy.
What’s your go-to routine or survival kit for those not-so-brilliant days? Let us know in the comments!