Feb 282012

Update: This post was written a few years ago, when I was first launching this website.  It’s nice to look back now and realize that my “bad day,” which seemed so all-consuming at the time, is now a distant memory that actually brings a smile to my face.

There are days when we stumble, and fall short of our expectations.  And then there are days when we fall flat on our face, and don’t seem to achieve anything at all.  I had one of those yesterday.  For those of you that can relate to this, I have 5 strategies you can use to keep yourself working towards your goals even when you have a bad day.  But first, I’d like to tell you about my day– I had a fairly ambitious goal, which was to launch this website on a new server.   I had previously hosted this website on Blogger, but I wanted to migrate the website over to WordPress before I participated in a blog promotion that begins tomorrow.  But as with most tech-related goals, I immediately hit a snag: the design I wanted to apply to this website was incompatible with the new server.

And of course, it took about 7 hours of my time to discover that there was no solution to the design incompatibility, and that time was not spent sipping martinis while relaxing next to the fireplace- it was spent on the phone with hosting company representatives giving me fruitless suggestions on how to (not) fix the issue, and on the computer Googling various code fixes I was supposed to try despite my not knowing how to write one iota of code (come to think of it, a martini could have been very helpful here, as with my alcohol tolerance level I would have ended up face down at my desk, happily oblivious to my technical challenges).

So, after the 7 hours of getting nowhere with my hoped-for web design, I took a deep breath, calmed myself, and decided that I could participate in tomorrow’s promotions without the fancy design, and that it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Feeling smug for not letting my drive for perfection ruin the launch of my new website, I confidently called my hosting company to request that they launch my website on the new server.  And you should have seen how my self-important smile froze on my face as the representative cheerfully replied, “That will be no problem.  Your request will be processed next week.”

“Thank you,” I replied weakly.  I hung up the phone, closed my eyes, and hung my head, realizing that “next weekmeant that the launch would not be occurring before the first (and biggest) promotion of my site.  Instead of readers visiting (and hopefully bookmarking) my new website address (the one you’re visiting right now) they would be visiting my old Blogger website address that would soon be defunct.  I felt discouraged and frustrated.  And discouragement and frustration are all that is needed for me to start feeling defeated.

But at this point it was time to make dinner, so I did my best to ignore the voices in my head telling me that this was a disaster and instead focus on the fact that I had forgotten to defrost the ingredients for tonight’s dinner.  I silently thanked the dinner gods that there was one more frozen pizza left in the freezer, so I threw that in the oven while my husband and daughter engaged in a lively Judo wrestling match on the living room floor. [July 2014 update: we no longer eat gluten or dairy, so I would have really been in a pickle if this had happened now that we’re on our Paleo diet- no frozen pizzas to the rescue!]

Feeling relieved that I pulled together a replacement dinner, I energetically pulled the pizza out of the oven with a little too much enthusiasm.  The doomed pie flipped off my spatula and fell upside-down onto the bottom of the oven.  That’s right, not only was the pizza upside down, but it was getting fried with alarming speed on the oven’s heating elements.  Thick, gray smoke pouring out of the oven, I awkwardly hunched over with two spatulas and desperately scraped and scooped the pile of cheese, sauce, and sausage off the oven’s floor before it became permanently cemented to the oven.  I felt tempted to burst into tears, or explode into a frenzy of frustration, but somehow I convinced myself not to traumatize my family with an adult-sized temper tantrum and instead turn to my list.  Here’s my advice to myself, which always seems to calm me down and keep me on track, and maybe it will do the same for you when you have a bad day:

  1. Take a deep breath, and exhale slowly.  If nothing else, you will at least be oxygenated when you start yelling.  But you might be surprised at how a measured inhale and exhale will calm you down.  (Incidentally, I had to walk away from the oven before inhaling, or I would have asphyxiated myself with smoke.)
  2. Accept a less than perfect result.  Often, we become frustrated that we are not living up to an ideal that we’ve created for ourselves.  Remind yourself that it is ok to be mediocre once in awhile, especially if it saves your sanity.
  3. Find gratitude.  Take a moment to observe the smallness of your problems in comparison to what they could be- my website snafu was but a speck of dust compared to the challenges that others are facing right now- home foreclosures, medical diagnoses, violence.  If you’re finding it too hard to be grateful for things in your own life, try to appreciate the wonderful things in the bigger world- the freshness of a breeze, the clarity of a bird’s song, the gift of being alive. It’s hard to be angry and grateful at the same time, and I guess I’d rather be grateful.
  4. Work around negative thoughts in your head.  It’s normal (and healthy!) to self-criticize, but if we’re not careful our inner voices can discourage us by relentlessly pointing out our failures and exaggerating the negative of our situations.  When I couldn’t solve my website design issue, I found myself thinking, “You’re no good at this.  Not only are you clueless about web design, you don’t really know anything about blogging, either. You should just give up.”  To work around those thoughts, I had to remind myself that just because I’m bad at something now doesn’t mean I can’t get better at it.  Some of the negative thoughts lingered nonetheless, at which point I had to simply say to myself, “You’re right! I don’t know what I’m doing and may ultimately fail at this endeavor.  Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to go ahead and make a fool of myself by proceeding with this project.”
  5. Just keep going.  A bad day is discouraging, and can make us feel like giving up on our project or goal.  But if you just keep working on your project despite these feelings, you will find that eventually the negativity will wear off, and not only will you feel re-energized, you will be proud that you actually made progress on your project despite being discouraged.

So, sweating in front of the hot oven, upside-down pizza before me, hungry family looking at me with wide eyes, I mentally consulted this list.  I calmed down enough to realize that I had to figure out what to do about dinner, and I had to figure it out now.  I quickly ran through my dinner options- Ask my husband to pick up take-out?  That will take at least 45 minutes.  Cook something else? At least an hour.  Scoop the pizza sauce, cheese and toppings off of the oven, and put them pack onto the crust?    And I bet you know what I did next, right? Yes, you’re right- I put the empty pizza crust back on the pan, piled everything back onto the crust and served it to my family without batting an eye.  They showed incredible grace by eating it without complaint, which makes me a very grateful mom.
UPDATE: As to the website, it is now up and running- you are reading this post at its new location! All’s well that ends well. Thanks for listening to my rant. :)

How do you pick yourself up after a bad day?


Viva Harris

+Viva Harris writes The Daily Citron, a fun blog about setting goals, saving money, staying organized, and enjoying life in the process. Don't want to miss any tips? Sign up for the free Daily Citron Weekly Newsletter.
 Posted by on February 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

  86 Responses to “5 Tips for Picking Yourself Up After a Bad Day”

  1. That’s a great list of tips for overcoming a bad day. I really like the one about just taking a deep breath to help relax. I need to remember to do that more often.

  2. Just keep going. Those are words to live by when things get rough. It’s hard, but you have to keep moving.

  3. Very nice. I related very well. I am so bad at being hard on myself. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Breathing is good! Being grateful is great! Telling friends (blogging online friends and/or others) can help, too! It keeps us real and imperfect which is so stinking beautiful!

  5. I hear ya. I’m presently in a house with no electric and water service. Keeping my head up and looking forward to the next day is all I have to go on now.

  6. I feel for ya, although I have no idea how to switch to wordpress. You are a little further into this journey. Keep blogging. I would have done the same thing with the pizza. It all ends up in the same spot.

  7. I can imagine how you felt when You wanted it perfect! For me it’s usually the subject (fighting w/verizon over something they promised and never did) that just suck the life out of you if you let it! I do always go back to being grateful. There are people who w ould give anything so be able to have the actual physical strength to deal with a problem for 7hrs . great post!

  8. This is definitely a great list of things to implement and remember when you’re going through a rough day.

  9. Oh what a day you had!! It’s all too easy to fall into the ‘I’m having a bad day’ feeling. Especially when things go wrong at the beginning of the day. Haven’t we all said, “It’s going to be one of those days”… They the day does become bad because that’s what our frame of mind expects! It’s so important to have a positive outlook to pull us out of negative expectations. Next time you have a bad start to the day – try saying, “well that’s all my bad luck out of the way now – it’s going to be a great day from now on!!”

  10. We all have those days when we think that we should have just gone back to bed and said to heck with it. For me, I find it’s very easy to let them overwhelm me and shut down completely.

    Breathing is a necessity! It’s amazing how much difference a few deep breaths can make, isn’t it. Gratitude is a really great tip too, one that’s easy to forget on a crappy day.

    I find that venting to someone really helps me put it in perspective and feel better.

  11. Congrats on the new site! I feel very sympathetic towards you with all the technical challenges of moving to your own site…it’s been a huge learning curve/technical hill to climb for me! But as Dori the fish says, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”

    • :) My daughter loves Finding Nemo. I’ll have to use that quote when I’m trying to teach her to be persistent!

  12. I wasn’t able to start making the rounds and commenting until today, so it looks like your new site is up and running. Congratulations on your move from blogger to WordPress.

  13. I am so sorry to hear about the craziness between setting up your site and trying to prepare a meal for your family! I feel like I have those days a lot too! Thank you for sharing so openly and even being able to share tips on how to overcome or not be overcome by those challenges! So glad to see that your new site is up and running!

    It’s nice “meeting” you through Blogelina’s comment tour!

  14. I love tip number 2 because it is so true. There is always going to be someone worse off then yourself. My tip is to sit down and pray and read the bible. The Word can be so encouraging.

  15. keep going is key, as wayne gretsky says: “you loose 100% of the shots you don’t take!”

  16. Sorry you had such a frustrating day – I know all too well about those! But it’s impressive that you managed to get through with grace by following your excellent ideas – good for you! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Some days just seem to go from bad to worse, don’t they? I’m glad your website is up and am excited to read more of your posts.

  18. I love the idea about accepting a less perfect situation!

    I love visualization all the stuff of the bad day at the top of the ocean in uder chaos while I’m chillin at the bottom in the calm water. Helps me to separate the chaos and know that things will be OK.

  19. Well done for getting your new site up and running! I think it’s good advice that we should sometimes accept less than perfect results!

  20. I totally get this! I have days like this all the time. In fact I just finished wasting about three hours fiddling with my blogger template : (

    I laughed out loud a few times during your post and added your website to my reading list, looking forward to more.

  21. Biochemically, you can give your brain an instant boost by hugging someone you love. A hug from someone you genuinely care about that lasts 30 seconds or more gives the brain a happiness fix similar to the one we get when we taste chocolate.

  22. If you are able to think of stopping and taking a deep breath I think you are doing wonderful. I try to remember to do that but sometimes I forget.

  23. sometimes the only thing that gets me through a bad day is the knowledge that the day itself will END. its almost noon, i’ll think. tha’ts halfway done. or, it’s almost dinner. so close!! or best- its bedtime! the day is DONE. tomorrow will be a fresh day!!

  24. For me it is to take a deep breathe and put one foot in front of the other and keep moving and never giving up or I would not restart.

  25. Deep breaths work wonders. I always tell my kids to take deep breaths when they throw a tantrum, or are crying over something small.
    Tge other tips are great too, I’ll need to remember them

  26. I TRY to think about if this will be a big deal 5 years from now. If not, I try to let it go!


  27. What great ideas, and what a great perspective you had when things didn’t go as planned!
    I also try to have gratitude when things go awry- they definitely aren’t as bad as they could be!

  28. We all have bad days. It’s how we react to them that makes us. You did a good job. If you can handle all that, you can tackle anything!

  29. I’ve had these days before. Then I know it’s time for a nice hot bath so that I can lay back and relax and forget all the worries of the day. Kind of like the Calgon commercials, except I use dead sea salts instead of blue food coloring, I mean, Calgon. :-)

  30. Bads days. They hit us all don’t they. Everyone at one time or another goes through days that you wish just never started. I think you handled everything really well and gave us good tips too!

  31. We all have those bad days. Sounds like you had just the right skill set to get through it. Someone told me once that a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. That helps me take the pressure off my desire to make everything perfect.

  32. i like #3 – i call it the “William DeVaughn” suggestion (William had a song in 1974 called “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got”)…. :D

  33. I am following you on twitter and I tweeted this post for you! Sometimes when I’m having a bad day I just find the positive…wherever I can…no matter how small or insignificant. I found that letting myself get worked up will never move me forward in life so I just take a moment to stop and focus on something else. Great post!!!

  34. I have been working on “having gratitude” this past year and it has literally changed my life. Especially on hard days!

  35. Deep breaths and gratitude always change my mood for the better!

  36. For some reason, at my age (er 30 something) we tend to get more of those “bad days” and don’t know why they come. Nothing bad happens, you just feel crappy. Thank you hormones.

    I eat dark chocolate, cry, hide and move on. I try not to take it out on the ones I love. Find something I love to do like blog, exercise or simply watch my favorite show. In time it passes and I can be back to normal.


  37. I would have cried. Just for a minute. Or two. I started trying to move my blog from Blogger to WP the first weekend in December. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, I was still working on it, which included a facebook conversation with a friend long after we both should have been in bed. But my first post in January was on WP.

    • Congrats on the move! Are you happy you did it? Now that I’ve made the switch, I wish I did it sooner- WordPress is so flexible!

  38. I find the gratitude tip to be the one that works the best for me. In fact I try to list my Endless Gifts each week on my blog.

  39. Oh those days!!! I hate the feeling of anxiety welling up on days like those! Good for you for pressing on through!

    As for what I do – PRAY! Not necessarily a sit-down-and-chat-with-Jesus for a half hour prayer. Sometimes it’s more like a groan that I know only He can understand, but I lift my cares up to Him nonetheless. And then I rest in knowing that nothing is out of His loving care.

  40. I’m ready this on your new site – so I’m glad it is working alright. These are great tips, especially the last one. Sometimes you just have to plow through and things will get better eventually.

  41. Sometimes it’s important to just laugh and let it go!

  42. I have had days like that! Where nothing seems to go right, and the more you try not to sweat it, the more bad things keep happening! Your tips are great though. I use the taking a deep breath (and breaking from whatever is frustrating me) often.

  43. I can totally relate to #3. After a bad or discouraging day, I love to relax is a warm bath while counting my blessings. Just knowing that someone would love to switch places with me encourages me on these less-than-perfect days.
    Congrats on your new web site home.

  44. Great tips. I’ve had a few (too many) of those days myself lately.

  45. Sometime a good temper tantrum is just what I need to pull myself back together. :)

  46. Great tips, I had those types of days myself. I would always ignore them, and they knew to leave me alone. But sometimes, you have to just deal with the situation.

  47. Whenever possible, I find something to laugh at. Whether it is myself, my kids, my hubby, my dogs, whatever. Laughter can make even the worst experience just a tad bit better!

  48. I hate days like that! Thanks for the positive tips :)

  49. You handled it better than I may have. Once the pizza hit the bottom of the oven I would’ve hit my limit. Glad the site is up and running, looks great!

    • I came very close to hitting my limit- in fact, after I piled the pizza onto the plates, I just left the congealed mess in the oven until after dinner. My husband must have sensed this was a hard day because he cleaned it up for me (saint!).

  50. I gave myself two weeks off in order to move my blog from blogger to WordPress, thinking that taking away the stress of posting would help with the stress of moving. I had stress anyway. It’s a darn good thing I color my hair! Ha!

    Good for you for taking a bad situation and turning it around. It is much easier said than done.

    Congratulations on your new site! It looks great!


  51. I have to tell you I don’t do very well with a bad day. I usually am mad and let the voices in my head build and then I will finally break down and cry. After all this I really do feel better and I am happy for what I have and can have a good perspective for the rest of the day. I will try the breathing as others have said it helps the next time things are not going well. Great post.

  52. loved this post! breathing is so important!!! And I am very glad to know that I am not the only one who has put a pizza in the oven upside down and proceded to serve it anyway! :)

  53. A grateful additiude can chage everything- thanks for the tips!

  54. Being thankful is a valuable lesson to learn It impacts our lives in a positive way when we choose to be thankful amidst life’s annoyances.

  55. Wow, what a day! Sounds like stuff that happens to me all the time :) We all have bad days from time to time, but your tips can really help out at those time. By the way, I really like your writing…it’s funny and interesting :)

  56. Sometimes you have to remember that good enough is, indeed good enough. We can’t be perfect all the time. And I love the green background :)

  57. Good tips, I especially agree with the just keep going.

  58. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other until the hurting quits!

  59. A bowl of ice cream or coffee night out always helps out after a bad day.

    Around My Family Table

  60. I often have days like that. Great tips! We just have to keep battling on :)

  61. It can be very difficult to step back and look at things differently when we are caught up in the momentum of the moment. I’ve started practicing yoga and meditation to help with balance in my life and it has really helped.

  62. Sometimes bad days can be a funny story when you are having a much better day. So i try to see the funny side of things when the stress is over.

  63. Hmmm… When I’ve had a bad day I usually try to listen to music or read the Bible. After that I usually feel much better, but if I don’t I’ve found that not staying up too late on a “bad” day helps the next one feel better. : )

  64. I always put in my mind that it`s normal to experience bad days and I will get over it.

  65. I will just think that tomorrow will be a great day! :-)

  66. Great list! I’m so happy for you in getting your new site up and running. I recently started blogging, and I spent many days in frustration trying to do technical things that I don’t know how to do.

    As for my method for dealing with a bad day …. I would like to sound mature and spiritual and say that I just pray about it. While I do pray about it, I also almost always go out to eat. :)

  67. I think that is the way I felt the whole first week i started my blog. I feel like a pro now.

  68. How do I deal? Well, sometimes I go and have that cry, then serve sandwiches for supper. Other times I take a deep breath and start singing an encouraging song in my head.

    I too would have probably picked up that pizza and served it. the kids wouldn’t have cared, and by that point a hungery DH would have understood and not cared.

    The site looks great, and yes, I’m reading it on the new location.

  69. Great list of tips! Thanks for sharing.

  70. Haha the pizza thing has happened to me more than once! Great tips and I hope you’re reading this on a better day!

  71. It is so difficult to change your thought patterns when bad things happen. But it is essential. You can’t control all the things around you, but you can control how you think and react. (I wish I could do this better!) Thanks for the post. I appreciated it.

  72. I had similar issues when launching my blog too! Doesn’t matter that much: you write well, I write well, we’re healthy and we’re loved — we can take care of the other stuff :)

  73. Hi Viva! Great blog! Sounds like you needed me back in February. Sorry about all the web design woes. Totally understand, it can be so frustrating. And GoDaddy… well… no comment.

    I’m super busy, but part of what I love about what I do is being able to help those around me who just want something beautiful on the web. And WP, well, that’s my expertise! So, if you want, I’d be happy to help you get your blog looking FANTASTIC over the next few months.

    I’ll be in touch! (you know where to find me!)

  74. Brilliant & very entertaining. Having had a terrible day myself, coming across your blog for the first time was a real treat. I literally laughed out loud reading how the pizza fell into the oven – it’s like we have similar lives. Yes, it’s easy with negative self talk. Sometimes I good cry to let it out helps. I find that sometimes, doing the deep breath lying down and trying not to overanalyze the day helps clear my mind. Well, wine and a good bath helps too!

    • Aww, thanks for the nice comment, Nancy! I’m so glad I brightened your day a little bit. Sheesh, I can’t believe it’s taken me 6 months to reply to your comment- sleep deprivation with an infant will do that to me! I’m finally back writing, and I saw your comment and it made my day.

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