Whether your job is handing you shit sandwiches left right and center or you’re driving yourself bonkers over an MIA lover, it probably feels like the universe is trying to punish you. It isn’t – bad days just happen. To everyone. They're part of being alive – especially part of being alive in February. Good news is, you can totally turn it around. Here's your 5 step guide to turning that frown the heck upside down.
1. Give yourself permission to be in a bad mood
There's usually a moment it hits you – the minute you can no longer for the life of you put on a happy face, no longer keep grasping for positive thoughts, no longer keep trying to do the thing you’re trying so hard to do …
This is exactly when you need to cut yourself some slack. Admit you're having a terrible day, and do it without adding a negative judgment (ie – "I shouldn't feel this way" / “what’s wrong with me?” “why do I suck at this?”) That will do nothing but increase the likelihood your mood will persist. Declare total bad day and from here on in, vow to be super kind to yourself.
2. Get it out on paper – in list form
Bad days happen for tons of different reasons. Chances are, there are a few stewing in your brain you’re not even aware of. Instead of letting that negativity fester in your mind in a big, unidentified jumble, make a list.
"One trick I've learned is to force myself to make a list of what's actually wrong," writes Ed Catmull, PhD, president of Pixar Animation Studios. "Usually, soon into making the list, I find I can group most of the issues into two or three larger, all-encompassing problems. So it's really not all that bad. Having a finite list of problems is much better than having an illogical feeling that everything is wrong."
Our brains LOVE lists because they simplify info and help us process it easier. You’ll feel more clarity after and the act of making writing it out just gives you more a feeling of power over it.
3. Solve those problems intuitively
Now that you've got your fatty list of reasons you’re not feeling great, the next step is to figure out what you need to do to get each them out of broken-record-rotation mode in your mind. Break it down: figure out how each problem needs to be solved.
Martha Beck says, "real problems each carry the seeds of their own solution. Job burnout? It's steering you toward your perfect career. An awful relationship? It's teaching you what love means. Confusing tax forms? They're suggesting you hire an accountant, so you can focus on more interesting tasks, such as flossing. Finding the solution to each problem is what gives life its gusto."
After you figure out what you need to do, you might feel inspired to start thinking of some big changes re – your job, relationship, lifestyle, etc. So if you feel it, do it! Start planning your solution, even if you can't necessarily take action now.
4. Take the long view
Focus on a long term plan that's exciting and gets you out of your rut-thinking. Break out your big dreams of what you’re working toward. Start making a vision board, scour your library website for uplifting books, make your ultimate motivation playlist. Get excited about your future and how you're going to make it rule.
5. Treat yourself
If all else fails, treat yourself to a petit luxury break. (For the record, treating yourself in whatever way you deem appropriate for your financial situation, tastes, etc. should be part of your regular routing. We've got a few awesome ideas for this winter. Just saying.)
Now blast your favourite super-fun power beat playlist and smile. Take that, February.