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How To Deal With A Bad Day At Work

You woke up to find out the hot water in your apartment isn’t working. After a cold shower, you spilled coffee on your tie and burned your toast, which set off the fire alarm and woke up your fussy downstairs neighbor. When you finally got out of the house, an accident delayed your commute by 40 minutes. You’re having a bad day, and now you’ve got to go to work.

Let’s face it, we’ve all had days that are frustrating, annoying, or downright miserable. And when you have to go in to work on days like these, and meet with clients or give a presentation, you may wonder how you’re going to get through it. But just because you’re having a bad minute or hour or morning doesn’t mean your whole day is headed towards the toilet. Here are five tips for turning a bad day around.

Don’t Talk to Anyone
Of course you can’t go an entire day without talking to your co-workers, but if you’re having a bad day, you should hold off on responding to emails, returning phone calls, or setting up meetings until you’ve calmed down. If you’re feeling angry, upset or agitated, you’re much more likely to fire off a hasty email or snap at an unsuspecting co-worker who just wants to know what you’re brining to Friday’s company potluck. Try to take a few minutes to yourself to start the day over (see next point) before you follow up with others.

Start Over
Ok, so you can’t exactly drive home, climb into bed, fall back asleep and start your whole day over again, but you can reset yourself once you get to work. Before you jump into your daily tasks, pour yourself a cup of coffee, close your door, and take a few deep breaths. Put on your favorite music (maybe something relaxing, or that will get you fired up), tune out for a minute, and then start your day with a fresh and clear mind.

Re-Prioritize
Sometimes a bad day is caused by something more serious than burned toast—an ongoing illness, a divorce, or a death in the family. If you’re going through some serious personal issues and you’re having “one of those days” as a result, you may want to re-prioritize your day. If you have something really important on your calendar, see if it’s possible to push it back a day or two until you’re in a better frame of mind. (You don’t want to make a mistake on a major presentation or report because your head isn’t in the game.) In the meantime, check and see what smaller tasks you can finally cross of your to-do list that maybe you’ve been putting off.

Get a Workout In
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can boost endorphins and neurotransmitters, increase body temperature, and reduce immune system chemicals—all of which can boost your mood and help you feel calmer. If you’ve got enough time on your lunch hour, get in a run, a pick-up game of basketball, or a quick trip to the gym. Even a 15-minute walk around the block can clear your head, help you relax, and allow you to re-focus on your day.

Talk to Someone
I know the first tip told you not to talk to anyone, but once you’ve calmed down a bit, venting to a trusted co-worker can help lighten your load. The Mayo Clinic emphasizes the importance of social networks in the war against stress, as they provide a sense of belonging, can boost your self esteem, and make you feel secure. If you have a social network at work, talking your problems through with your co-workers may help you feel at ease and even find the solution to your problem that you’ve been missing. And if nothing else, they may just get you to laugh a little bit about that coffee stain on your tie. – By Noël Rozny, Web Editor and Content Manager