Wednesday, 28 November 2018

How to shake a bad day 'funk'

How to shake a bad day funk:
 Let me tell you about my day.....
-I woke up late
-I smashed a glass bottle of milk all over the kitchen floor, which made us later
-I had no time for breakfast or to make a packed lunch
-The back seat got stuck in the down position and I had 3 children to drive to school
-The children sang Christmas songs on the way to school
-There were two traffic jams on my 10 minute journey to work
-There were no spaces in the office car park
-I wasted an hour going on a failed visit for work, because the young person didn't turn up
-There were no parking spaces outside the bakery
-I smashed the screen on my newish phone on the bakery floor
-I burnt the fishfingers for tea 
-I got pomegranate juice on my baby pink wool jumper
I'm sure there is more that I can't remember. Today had the potential to be a total A****. But let's not whinge all evening...time to spin it on it's head. 
It's now 6pm and I'm still standing, in fact I've even had a couple of laughs. 
Do you know about Negative Automatic Thoughts? 
There is a spiral that we get into when we start believing our negative thoughts, so we feel bad, which means we act negatively, which causes more negative thoughts and so on...round and round we go. It can be showed as a triangle with ACTIONS, THOUGHTS and FEELINGS circling around, feeding into each other with no beginning or end. Let's use my bad day example: I wake up late and drop the milk (action). I think 'that is such a bad omen for the rest of the day' (thought) which makes me feel stressed and frustrated and then notice every little thing that goes wrong (feeling), so I strop about in a grump probably rushing and more things do go wrong, perpetuating the whole cycle again. Therapists use this model when giving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), but you don't need to be a therapist to understand that by changing your thoughts about a situation, you will inadvertently alter your feelings and so on. We have to ask ourselves 'In this current situation, what can I change?' Or 'What personal power do I have right now?' Sometimes we have the power to change a situation and sometimes we can do certain actions to shift the cycle a bit, but a lot of the time the only thing we can change is our own thoughts.

So how do we change our thoughts in order to shift the whole mood and progress of the day? 

1.Challenge yourself:
Shift your thinking and challenge negative automatic thoughts by asking yourself  'What is the evidence that this is true?' Well yeah, quite a few annoying things happened today, but only a few of these were before 9am meaning when I first got into the funk it was only a disastrous hour not day. When I first missed the alarm and then dropped the milk, I automatically thought 'Oh no, here we go' and almost expected a bad day. In fact, when I look at the evidence, of how much went badly and how much went well, I bet I can find more good in the end. It's only when you expect awful things to happen, that they inevitably do because you're almost inviting them. Ask 'What alternative views are there?'- So the car parks were full, yeah and what's new?.....9 times out of 10 our office car park is full, why does that matter more today? When I walked into the office, after finishing my rant about the traffic and the milk, I announced (to myself more than anyone) that I was ready to shift my thinking and then I started looking for exceptions.

2. Look for exceptions-
Start looking for things that have gone right, instead of what hasn't. Perhaps notice and acknowledge that your favourite coffee is on offer or that the traffic light turned green just as you approached. You will have to actively look and seek out these little exceptions, as they won't come easily once your stuck in a funk. My attitude about the day flipped this morning when I spotted a packet of crumpets on the side and someone offered me the last of their butter- no time for breakfast issue solved-tick!
Remembering those crumpets takes me onto the next point.....

3. Wallow in some small pleasures-
A segment of chocolate orange, a feel good playlist, a bunch of flowers for your house, you get the picture. I believe the simpler and smaller, the better. In fact, I'm pretty sure the concept of enjoying small pleasures, could rival gratitude for the positive effect on our mental well-being.

4. Get some perspective
My work gives me insights into a lot of people's lives who are truly struggling, that's why we go and in and support them and their families. I see the effects of domestic abuse, substance misuse, parents who have had terrible childhoods of their own and poverty on a day to day basis. It's not all doom and gloom and I am grateful to witness and aid the changes, but there is something very humbling and grounding about seeing other people's less fortunate lives. But let's face it, you don't have to do my job to realise that there is ALWAYS somebody worse off than you. It may not feel like it at times, but there is. Be grateful for what you do have.

3. Fresh air/ Exercise 
Go outside, breathe, breathe some more and then walk around. The weather locally to me today was horrific, we had wind, rain, storms and the sky outside was like dusk all day. But the cold air hitting my face and the huge lung of air I consumed helped my mood, I promise. This evening, after reflecting on my grumpiness, I realised that since leaving the gym in August and the dark evenings coming in this Autumn, I've hardly done any exercise at all. So I've joined the gym again and the 20 minutes on the cross trainer and rowing machine this evening reminded me how that  rush of feel good hormone feels when you raise your heart rate.

4. Have a success-
Tick something off of your to do list, look back at something you created in the past or start a job that you know you can do well and easily. The accomplished feeling you get when you finish it, will raise your self esteem and boost your happy hormone again. Remember that triangle from earlier? Thoughts-Feelings-actions.....? If you change your feelings about yourself and your ability to achieve, it will effect your next action (probably doing it again), which will affect your thoughts (I've managed to do that), which will in turn affect your feelings about yourself....etc.....etc....continue cycle. 

6.Have a laugh
I heard a teacher in a Secondary school lunchtime today tell an upset teenage girl to go and find her friends and have some fun. Although my initial feeling was 'What a condescending b***h', I have no idea of the girl's story so I can't really judge. However, that teacher kind of has a point. Humour is an awesome distraction for all sorts of situations, we talk about it in our parenting courses all the time.
I wrote earlier in my list of rants that one of the bad things that happened today was the kids singing Christmas songs. I feel bad now! Yes, the mood I was in, it was pretty damn annoying in November. The last thing I wanted to hear was jollity. But then the hilarious 'boy' changed the words to 'I saw Mummy killing Santa Claus' (I know- really?) , I acknowledged that with the mood I was in that was much more likely and we all laughed. It was a genuinely funny moment that lightened the mood no end. 

7. Rant and let go
I've left this until last, because I'm not sure it always helps. I've ranted about the broken milk bottle and broken phone screen pretty much all day and I'm still really cross about the phone at least. We love a good rant in our office though, sometimes the camaraderie of shared annoyance or the understanding ear of a friend is just what you need. Just as long as you don't dump it on the listener and just as importantly make sure that once it's out, in the words of Elsa- Let It Go!


  1. These tips are great! I will definitely be using them! Thank you!

  2. Fresh air and laughing at things usually helps my bad day. These are some good tips! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Ranting and exercise are my go tos for a bad day. I tend to dwell on the bad a little too much and need to work on changing my perspective.

  4. We all have bad days! But, it's best not to let them get us down! Great tips! I often like to look at the good things that happened that day - or if the day isn't over, than I'll do something for myself (if it be a long epsom soaked bath or watching a funny movie) or spend some time playing with my daughter. Usually helps with the craziness of a bad day. :)

  5. Such gerat tips for how to work through a bad day! It is so important for our kids that we take care of ourselves...even on our worst days