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How to Get Over a Bad Day

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

Whether your day was messed up by one terrible incident or a series of minor annoyances, a bad day can leave you feeling sad, anxious, and stressed out. You can start to get yourself back on track after a bad day by taking a little time to deal with your feelings. Help yourself feel better physically and emotionally by practicing self-care and doing something relaxing. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend, a family member, or a professional if you need a little extra support.

Method 1

Dealing with Negative Feelings


Focus on your physical senses if you’re feeling stressed or anxious. It’s important to give yourself time to process the negative feelings you are experiencing. As soon as you’re able to do so, take a few minutes to just breathe and focus on what you are seeing, smelling, feeling, and hearing. This will help ground you in the present moment and break the cycle of stress and anxiety.

o If you can, find a quiet space where you can be by yourself, without distractions.


Reflect on your emotions without judgment. It’s okay to feel upset when you’re having a bad day. Instead of ignoring your emotions or trying to make yourself cheer up, take a moment to identify and acknowledge what you’re feeling. Putting a name to your feelings can help them seem less overwhelming.

o For example, you might think to yourself, “I’m feeling disappointed and mad at myself for getting a bad grade on that assignment.”

o Don’t try to judge or analyze your feelings—for example, don’t tell yourself, “It’s ridiculous to be so upset about this!” Just make note of your feelings and let them be.


Try to identify the source of your negative feelings. Reflect on the negative feelings you are experiencing and think about what could have triggered your bad day. Was it stress at work? Anxiety over a test? Frustration towards someone you know? Try to label the source of your bad day in 3 words or fewer. For example: “frustration with Lisa” or “stress from clients”.

o Studies show that the simple act of putting your feelings into words can dramatically reduce the effect of those feelings.


Acknowledge that not all bad days have an obvious cause. Sometimes you may experience days when you feel down, anxious, or exhausted for no apparent reason. This is especially true if you struggle with issues like depression or anxiety. If this happens to you, remind yourself that you don’t need a reason to feel bad—some days are just more difficult than others. If you can’t identify a reason for your mood, focus instead on helping yourself feel better in the moment.

o For example, you might have a drink of water or eat a healthy snack. If you’re tired, take a brief break from whatever you’re doing and rest.

o You can also try a few simple stress-relieving activities, like going for a walk, meditating, or doing a little yoga.


Share your feelings with someone you trust. It may be tempting to keep your dark mood to yourself, especially in a busy communal environment like the office or the classroom. However, connecting with other people when you’re down can help you feel better.

o Reach out to a friend, loved one, or trusted colleague. Say something like, “Hey, I’m having a rough day. Mind if I vent a bit?”


Remind yourself that what you’re experiencing is temporary. When you’re in the middle of a bad day, it’s easy to feel like things will be terrible forever. However, remember that this bad day will not last forever, and neither will the things you are feeling right now.

o Just because a bad experience is temporary does not mean your feelings about it at the time aren’t valid. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to be upset.

o You might tell yourself something like, “This day has been awful and I feel really down about it right now, but today won’t last forever.” Try to view tomorrow as an opportunity to start fresh.

Method 2

Practicing Stress-Relieving Activities


Do deep breathing exercises. Breathing deeply can signal your brain and body to relax, instantly helping you feel a little better when you’re under stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or upset, take 3 to 10 deep, controlled breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe so that your belly expands, rather than your chest.

o If you can, find a quiet place to sit or lie down while you breathe. Put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest so that you can feel the motions of your body. Close your eyes and focus on the physical sensations of breathing.

o If you have the time, you can also try more advanced breathing exercises. For example, try slowly breathing in for 4 counts, holding your breath for 7 counts, and breathing out for 8 counts. Repeat this process 3 to 7 times.


Focus on a creative activity. Creative activities are not only calming, but they can be a healthy outlet for your feelings and frustrations. If you’re having a bad day, try to set aside a few minutes to do something expressive, whether it’s drawing, knitting, writing, or playing an instrument.

o Even if you don’t consider yourself the artistic type, you can still get stress-relieving benefits from simple activities like coloring, doodling, or doing paint-by-numbers.

o You could also write down your feelings in a journal. It doesn’t have to be anything polished or profound—just getting your feelings out on the page in a few words can help them feel more manageable.


Take a little time to do something you enjoy. Treating yourself to something fun can do a lot to lift your spirits and help you feel better after a stressful day. If you can, set aside at least a few minutes to do something that reliably cheers you up. This could be anything from watching a video that always makes you laugh to buying a favorite snack.

o If you’re not sure what might help, try making a list of 5 simple, easily attainable things that you always enjoy. For example, your list could include things like “reading some of my favorite book” or “playing through a level of a video game that I like.”

o Avoid putting things on your list that you can’t control (e.g., “days with warm weather”) or that are not realistic right at this moment (such as “going on a cruise”).


Spend time with friends and family. If you can, schedule a little face-to-face time with someone you care about. Play a game or go see a movie together, go for a drink to blow off some steam, or simply have a friend over for a cup of tea. Spending time with loved ones is a great way to shift your mood and prevent you from focusing on negative thoughts or the events of your bad day.

o If you don’t have any friends or family nearby, try giving someone you know a call or having a chat online.

Method 3

Helping Yourself Feel Better Physically


Go for a run, a jog, or a walk. One of the best ways to get over a bad day is exercise. In fact, regular exercise can increase your energy level and help you deal with stress. Doing something physically active can also help ground you in the moment and take your mind off your worries. Work out your body and give your mind a rest.

o If you don’t have time for a full workout, even taking a 10-minute walk around the block can help.


Do restorative yoga postures. Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that engages both your mind and your body, helping to reduce stress and increase your sense of wellbeing. If you’re having a rough day, try to take a few minutes to do some simple yoga poses. If you’re stuck at work or school, you can even do some poses, such as the lotus position, while sitting at your desk.

o The lotus position is an easy, calming pose that you can do anywhere. Sit comfortably in your chair or on the floor with your neck and spine straight and erect and cross your legs. Place your hands on your thighs, palms up, with your thumbs and first fingers touching. Breathe deeply through your nose for 10-15 breaths.


Fuel yourself with a healthy meal or snack. Eating healthy foods can help you feel better both physically and emotionally. Choose foods that can boost your mood and increase your energy levels, such as leafy greens, whole grains, lean proteins (like fish, poultry breast, or beans), and healthy fats (like those found in nuts and vegetable oils).

o While sweet baked goods, candy, or greasy foods may be tempting while you’re feeling down, these can deplete your energy and leave you feeling worse.

o If you are going to go for chocolate as your comfort food, opt for dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has high levels of phenylalanine, which can stimulate your brain to release serotonin, a natural feel-good chemical.


Get 7 to 9 hours of high-quality sleep. Sleep helps your body and mind recover from the stresses of your day. Aim to go to bed early enough that you can get 7 to 9 hours of sleep (or 8 to 10 if you’re a teen). Unfortunately, stress can make it harder for you to sleep. If you’re concerned you might have trouble nodding off after your bad day, try the following:

o Turn off all bright screens at least half an hour before you go to bed.

o Unwind before you sleep with some light stretches and a warm bath or shower.

o Read a little bit of a relaxing book and listen to some calming music.

o Make sure your room is dark, quiet, and comfortable (e.g., neither too hot nor too cold).

o Drink a warm, caffeine-free beverage, such as a mug of warm milk with a little honey mixed in.


  • Bad days happen to everyone from time to time. However, if you feel like most or all of your days are bad, then you may be struggling with depression or a related issue. Make an appointment with your doctor or a therapist to discuss what you are feeling. They can offer advice or connect you with resources that may help.






















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