18 Ways to Overcome a Bad Day at Work

Stressed man at work

Bad days are inevitable.

You accidentally switched your alarm off instead of hitting the ‘snooze’ button and ended up waking up an hour late. So, you skip your morning coffee and then get stuck in traffic on your way to work, right before getting splashed by a passing car.

When you finally get into the office – super late and drenched in muck – your boss pulls you aside to lecture you about your tardiness. And to make matters worse, he punishes you by giving you a big assignment with a ridiculously short deadline – just so you can prove your worth.

With so many emotions running through you, how can you possibly get over such a challenging start to the day and actually be productive? Do you just crawl under a rock and wish the next eight hours away?

The answer is ‘no’! You need to pull yourself together and find a way to overcome the difficult start to your day. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best ways you can bounce back from a lousy day.

1. Vent to a Trusted Friend

By offloading to a trusted colleague or friend, you’ll get rid of the stress and be able to continue with your day. Your friend will probably offer you a few words of wisdom that will help get you out of your funk. Whatever happens, it’s best to step away from the situation that’s causing you stress, grab a coffee, vent for no longer than 10 minutes and get back to work with a refreshed attitude.

2. Listen to Music

If you’re allowed to use headphones at work, pull them out and listen to your favourite jams. In a recent study, led by Dr Anneli B Haake, which looked into the effects listening to music at work had on workers’ moods, ‘many of the respondents… mentioned that music listening had stress-reducing functions (using descriptions like “it relaxes me”, “calms me down”, “eases stress” and “soothing”)’.

3. Shake it Off

In the workplace, moods can change quickly. But whatever the reason, whether it was because you had to deal with a rude customer, it’s important to shake it off and focus on your work. If you can’t seem to shift your mood, consider stepping outside and getting some fresh air.

4. Watch a Funny Video

If you’re feeling a little down in the dumps, take 10 minutes out of your workday to watch a funny video on YouTube. Laughing releases endorphins, your body’s feel-good chemicals, and can make you feel better in as little as 15 minutes. Laughter really is the best medicine, after all!

5. Get Stuck in Your Work

By throwing yourself into a pile of work, you’ll quickly forget about the annoying issue at hand and focus your energy on something more productive. When you’re busier, time passes faster – and you’ll be home in no time where you can put the rough day behind you.

6. Don’t Be Overdramatic

Sometimes – okay, all the time – we tend to overdramatise situations and take everything a little too literally. But remember that it’s not the end of the world and that, unless you did something terribly wrong, you won’t get fired. Treat the situation as a learning experience and learn from your mistakes!

7. Take Your Lunch Break

When the office gets a little too stuffy or your job gets tricky, use your lunch break to get away from it all. Go offsite for lunch, take a walk or meet up with a friend at the local coffee shop. Remember: it’s important to remove yourself from your surroundings so you can return happier and with a fresh approach.

8. Don’t Overindulge

When things go wrong, do you usually look to superficial outlets that will make you feel better? Maybe it’s a new pair of overpriced shoes (that you really can’t afford) or a tub of ice cream that you really shouldn’t indulge in. Try to avoid surface level cures when you’re feeling down.

9. Change Your Attitude

When you’ve received criticism for your work or been involved in a confrontation with a colleague or boss, you’ll probably adopt an I-don’t-give-a-sh*t attitude and leave work five minutes earlier just to be a rebel and hit happy hour to drown your sorrows away. But you may want to consider a less dramatic response. By all means, give yourself some time to wallow, but make sure you shift your attitude and take a more positive outlook on things – and the sooner, the better.

10. Exercise

If you’re feeling down, it’s easy to skip your usual workout class and instead opt for a fatty takeaway. However, exercising will help you recover from your bad mood and feel better almost immediately. If you don’t have time to make it to the gym, why not try doing a couple of desk exercises for a quick boost?

11. Write it Down

Remember when you were an angry teen and used to vent your frustrations in your diary? Can you recall how great you felt after you wrote down all those emotions on paper? Fast-forward 20 years and you’ll find that writing your issues down on paper is a great way to handle bad feelings and analyse the problems at hand. You’ll also find that when it’s in black and white, it’s not that bad, after all.

12. Meditate

Meditating will generally make you feel calm and relaxed, so if you’re having a bad day, find a quiet space, pop in your headphones and get started. There are some great apps on the market that will teach you how to do this properly, too, like Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer.

13. Count Your Blessings

It’s normal to feel like everything sucks when you’re having a bad day. But it’s also important to sit back and remind yourself of all the good things in your life. Your boss may have said something that bugged you, but you need to remind yourself of all the positive aspects of your job and be grateful for the opportunities that you’ve been given.

14. Smile

I’m not suggesting that you force a fake smile, but having said that, you shouldn’t sit there with a resting b*tch face, either. Finding ways that will help you crack a smile will in turn boost your mood, lower your blood pressure and decrease your stress levels.

15. Avoid Negativity

If you work with a Negative Nancy, try to avoid them at all costs when you’re dealing with a bad day. They’ll only suck the life out of you and make you feel even worse with their pessimism. In other words, you need to surround yourself with positive people that will rub off on you.

16. Don’t Work Late

On a day when you’re feeling demotivated, it’s important to leave work on time so you can go home and do something non-work-related. After all, you won’t do yourself any favours by sitting at your desk and wallowing in your misery – it will only make you feel exhausted and you’ll end up carrying those hard feelings over to the next day.

17. Do Something That Makes You Feel Good

Whether it’s soaking in the bath with a glass of wine or catching up with your bestie, do whatever it takes to make you feel good and recover from a bad day. A good work-life balance is important, so if work has been cr*p, balance it out by doing something fun in your spare time.

18. Start Your Day Right

To make sure you start off on the right foot the next day, have an early night and aim to wake up a little earlier so you can arrive to work on time and begin your day with a new and improved attitude.

When things aren’t going to plan, it can easily put you in a bad mood, but it’s important to remember that you can still beat the blues and be productive on these days. The key is positivity to ensure your day runs a little smoother.

How have you curbed a bad day before? Join in on the conversation below to let us know…