I don’t know about you, but I’m not very good at living in the bad days. A productive day, sun shining, birds singing - those days are pretty easy, right? Simple and wonderful, those days give us an ease of contentment and we ache at the pure joy that surrounds us in this life.
When I have an expectation for a good day - and it goes anything but good - I have a pretty tricky time letting go and accepting that the day just isn’t going to go as planned. I don’t mean wallowing in the unfairness or grumbling through the rest of your day, but instead accepting that you are not in control and that sometimes bad days just are that: bad.
Now, there’s no magic formula to fix an unhappy day, no 1-2- 3 that instantly turns rain into sunshine. However, there is a pretty big mind shift that can move your bad day from a negative into a middle ground. Think of it as a “pause day.”
Maybe you know right from the moment you woke up - this is not going to go well. Perhaps you are halfway through your day and you’re sliding downhill, fast. You could be into the early afternoon and suddenly realize, and you’re not sure why, but you just aren’t happy today, even though nothing is “wrong.”
The most frustrating thing about feeling this way? There is usually little we can do to make the day change. Unless you are suddenly able to lift yourself up out of your office, away from crying kiddos, or completely cure your case of the blues, you are pretty much stuck in gloomy shadows.
In the very moment when you feel as if it’s all caving in remind yourself to breathe, realize you are OK, and let yourself have a bad day.
It’s okay to not be productive every Monday-Friday.
It’s acceptable to keep the kids at home and have a no-activity day.
It’s perfectly fine to stay in your pajamas, eat popcorn for dinner, and text in all emoji’s to friends.
The key I have found to not being absolutely miserable on these days is to let it be an in- between day of “pause.” Where you aren’t at the top of your game and you might not check off any to-do lists, but you let yourself go slow. On a pause day, I don’t have to do laundry. On a pause day, my meals don’t have to be balanced. I can work out only if I want to. Beyoncé can be on repeat. My fiancé knows not to joke with me or be sarcastic. I don’t expect a lot from myself, other than getting through the day.
It’s an extra reminder to be gentle to myself. Whatever way it is doable for you, give in to a little luxury on the days that make you want to stomp angrily through the puddles and honk at the little old lady driving oh, so slow on the freeway. Maybe it’s taking a nap while the baby sleeps or an extra-long, hot shower. Treating yourself to a yummy coffee or dark chocolate snack after dinner. If a workout or healthy foods make you feel good, make sure that is part of your pause day - but it doesn’t have to be. Maybe you let your mind pause it’s frantic scrolling and you shut of social media for the day and pick up a book instead. Blast the songs that make you happy, cook your favorite meal (or order in), watch the movie that always makes you laugh-cry.
I’ve started looking at bad days as little gifts. That sounds weird, I know. But having a day where I’m slow and gentle with myself and those around me lets my mind and body rest in the knowledge that I don’t have ace every test, that it doesn’t have to be the world’s most memorable day. It’s a break in the demand for the repeating cry of more, more, more!
Wash your face, drink a mug full of your favorite tea, put on cozy socks, watch the laundry spinning round and round. Enjoy the gentle rhythms of life that persist even when the grumpy ogre inside you is awake and chatting. Notice the subtle breeze that sweeps through the trees, reminding you that every day is fresh and new, and tomorrow you can start again.