When a bad day comes along it can completely through you off. Impacting not just that day but all the days to follow it. That’s why you need a strategy in place to help you know how to get through a bad day.
As someone who has been hit by a bus and has had more than one trip to the emergency room that ended in neurosurgery, I know a thing or two about bad days.
With my experience working in the mental health field, I also know how to get through a bad day.
Bad Day or Bad Moment?
The thing is, our brains are primed to remember all the “bad” things that happen to us throughout the day. That’s our good friend our negativity bias at work.
Which was great when we needed to remember which watering hole is the one where we are most likely at risk of being eaten by a predator.
For most of us though, in our day-to-day lives, we don’t need to be constantly vigilant to threats.
This negativity bias is the reason why we remember every.single.thing that’s gone wrong in our lives. Yet find it hard to remember the good moments.
Now, anytime, anything bad happens to us we remember it. We hold on to it and it just sits there in our minds. We continue to focus on it and hold onto it. The next thing we know, our whole day is ruined.
Charlene – The Mindfulness Journey
Even during the good moments, we’re often already anticipating the end and how much that’s going to suck. Mourning the end of our vacation before we’re even there.
There are two things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about a bad day that you’re having.
The first is acceptance of the reality of this moment. Not the moment from earlier this morning. Right now in this moment. Because this moment is only here for a moment and then (unless you hang on to it) it’s gone.
The practice of acceptance is, really, what mindfulness is all about. One of the definitions of mindfulness is accepting the reality of the present moment with an attitude of kindness, curiosity, and nonjudgement.
So, reality acceptance, is what happened to make it a “bad day” still happening? Or is it that you’re caught up in your thoughts about what happened?
This brings us to the second thing to keep in mind and that’s the 2 Arrows.
The 2 Arrows
The 1st arrow is the inevitable pains in life – meaning that there will always be some kind of pain that you will face in life. This arrow can be something as every day as being stuck in traffic or it can be something bigger like an illness.
What this first arrow is doesn’t matter, in life we will always have ups and downs, what matters is how we respond to this arrow because this is the only thing that we can control.
Our response to the first arrow is the second arrow – the thoughts, judgments, and resistance that you have to the first arrow.
Now, accepting the first arrow never, ever means that you have to like it. You don’t. You have to accept that it’s here.
I don’t have to like the fact that I’m currently awaiting surgery but I do need to accept it.
Otherwise, I’m stuck in judgments and resistance about how “it’s not fair!” and “why me?!” neither of which: a) changes the fact that I’m awaiting surgery or b) makes me feel better about the fact that I’m awaiting surgery.
When you notice that you are caught up in judgements & resistance you have the space to choose how to respond in that moment.
Judgments happen to all of us. When we get stuck in judgments that’s when the traffic that we experienced on the way to work, leads to us being in a bad mood, and then we get into a disagreement at work, and finally, when we get home we are so ticked off that you take your bad day out on your family.
You get stuck in traffic, you notice when that second arrow starts up, you breathe your way through it and you come back to this moment. Because this moment is the only one that you can do anything about.
How to get through a bad day
The first way to know that you’re having a bad day and have boarded the rumination train is to STOP.
When you stop and breathe, you send oxygen to the brain and you slow down your nervous system – which helps you to shift out of fight or flight mode – so that you can make a choice on what to do next.
It also helps you to notice whether you’re having a bad moment or a bad day. And maybe you are having a bad day – I’ve definitely had days that I would consider bad – but when you’re mindful and aware even on the worst days there might still be small moments that don’t suck or are even good.
The STOP practice is one of many skills that I teach inside my program STOP the Panic, a 3 part program that helps you to notice when you’re getting caught up in worries and shifting into panic mode – and provides you with the skills needed to regulate your nervous system quickly to bring it back to baseline. In just 3 short training you will learn how to stop panic in its tracks so that you can feel calm in a crisis situation – and who doesn’t want that?!
Learning how to notice when that second arrow shows up has helped me numerous times over the last few years to keep me from feeling stuck and like my day has been ruined. Yes, bad things still happen to me, I’m currently writing this while waiting for a surgery that’s been delayed a bunch of times. But the difference is that I know that I can move through whatever life sends my way and I’m here to help you learn how to do the same.
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Hey there, I'm Charlene!
I help creative entrepreneurs with chronic illness create a sustainable business that fits their lifestyle without letting imposter syndrome take over.
Charlene is an entrepreneur, psychotherapist and mindfulness coach living with chronic illness after she was hit by a bus.
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