Wednesday, September 22, 2004

5 Ways to Overcome Your Bad Days

By Jon Gordon

Bad days. They're like pimples. They pop up unexpectedly. Nobody wants them but everyone has them. And some have them more than others. Mine seem to appear during a full moon. Is it any wonder that wolves howl at the moon? Perhaps your bad days start with a nightmare that wakes you up in the morning, an overwhelming project, sick children, rejection at work or an argument with your spouse. Or perhaps nothing sets off your bad day. You just seem to have these intense emotional feelings that life stinks and there's nothing to look forward to. Whatever the reason, bad days are about as fun as getting your teeth pulled. You wonder when it's going to be over but time inches slowly forward and the pain gets worse. Bad days. They make you just want to scream aggghhhhhhhhhh...

As someone who has had a lot of practice with bad days in my own life, I can tell you that bad days don't have to be so... bad. There are ways to overcome your bad days so they don't linger, so they don't cause more bad days and so they don't ruin your life. And I'm not talking about strategies that include a six pack of beer, a bottle of wine or a double fudge chunk, nut, caramel, whip cream sundae. My goal is to share strategies with you that will serve you today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life. Best of all they are free, powerful and at your disposal 24/7. So the next time you are having a bad day reach not for a bottle, but rather deep within yourself and try the following action steps:

Action Steps

1. Don't drown in bad day emotions. Like an unfortunate swimming accident, drowning is often the result of fighting too hard to stay afloat. Instead of fighting against your bad day allow yourself to relax and flow with the day. Accept that it's a bad day and ride it out like a surfer rides a wave. Realize that the more you struggle against it the weaker you will become. Understand that just as the wave has an end so does your bad day. Don't let your mind trick you into thinking that your bad day will last forever. Simply look at your bad day as a bad day that comes and goes. The more you flow the less bad days you will have. Breathe deeply and breathe often.

2. When possible avoid major decisions. During bad days we have a tendency to think about our future, our career, our purpose and our relationships. While there is nothing wrong with thinking about these things we can often get swept away by our negative emotions during bad days. So when possible, don't make any major decisions about your life or career. Be aware that you are having a bad day and say to yourself that you can think about everything another time.

3. Exercise. After a walk, run or bike ride your problems will be smaller and your bad day won't be so bad. Take a walk after lunch. Run before dinner. Just get that blood pumping, those endorphins going and your happy neurotransmitters flowing.

4. Treat yourself. Practice self care. Bad days make you feel wounded and like a wounded animal you must heal yourself. Treat yourself to a nice lunch. Go see a movie. Rent a video. Go shopping or swimming. Read a book. And even once in a while have a double fudge chunk, nut, caramel, whip cream sundae or other dessert. Just not all the time. Use bad days as a time to reflect, relax and recharge.

5. Be thankful. When you appreciate what you have and put things in perspective your bad day won't seem so bad. A bad day will be just a small temporary part of life that pales in comparison to all the things that you are grateful for.

May your day be filled with boundless energy!

Jon Gordon, America's #1 Energy Coach and author of "Energy Addict: 101 Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Ways to Energize Your Life," will be on NBC's Today Show on Monday, October. 4.

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