Reversing Snowballs: Improving Attitudes on a Bad Day

Some days, let me tell ya.

Everyone has had these days. Something starts you off the wrong way, and the rest of the days events snowball into one giant cluster of stress. Every little thing that could be difficult, can and will be difficult. And that makes the snowball bigger.

I’m certain that no one sets out to have a bad day. So why do we let these days take control? How do days like this go so far off course? Why is it so easy to slip into a bad day?

What can we do to reverse the snowball?

I can tell you right now; I have no idea what you should do. Your personality, experiences, beliefs, and customs are going to dictate what makes you feel better. But I can tell you what I have done to bring my days back around, right my own ship, and yes, reverse my snowballs.

1. Identify the problem: The very first thing I need to do, is recognize that I am having a crappy day. Identify the problem, and it becomes easier to solve. Sometimes it’s easier than others. But by recognizing that the days events-and that my attitude toward them may be less-than-optimistic-can be the beginning to changing your day . But be careful that this doesn’t become an excuse to keep having a crappy day. We’re reversing snowballs here!

2. Hold yourself accountable: Once I’ve recognized that a bad day is occurring, I need to figure out what I can actively do to change it. Some things are beyond my control, and are not worth attempting to change. Believe me, I’ve tried, and it only gets me more stressed. But I can change how I react to certain things. Did I just trip over that toy? Yes. Do I need to scoff, growl, then start ranting about how messy the house is? No. What can I control in that situation? My reaction, and how I proceed afterward.

3. Visualize a better day: Once I see the problem, and have found the actions I can take, it’s time for me to work it! But that is easier said than done. I have found that if I visualize a concrete, physical action to go along with my mood change, I can achieve a happy day quicker and easier.

For example, the bad day I’m having is like a well-worn road through a forest. (The road could be my neural pathways, and the forest is my brain). With my history, I know that these bad day emotions are pushing me along a very, very well-worn road. Heck, it probably has deep ruts and footprints that are miles deep, and the “trash” of my bad thoughts have been strewn everywhere- it has been traveled often! But what if, instead, I make up a side street that is a simple footpath leading through a beautiful meadow beside a crystal clear stream? That visualization of a physical act helps solidify my decision to make my day better.

But what will work for you? Maybe you can visualize a light switch turning from off to on. Maybe that bad day is a raging river you are being swept up in, and you are given a life preserver that pulls you to shore. Or maybe you can visualize that snowball rolling back up a hill, getting smaller and smaller, until you can hold it in your hand.

4. Hydrate and energize: Sometimes the solution is simple and elegant; drink water, and have a small snack. I am amazed at how much difference a quart of water and handful of raisins can make my days. I usually attempt to drink a few quarts of water every day, but many times I will fall short. And I can feel it when I don’t get enough water. Headaches wrapping around the top of my head like a vice, and annoying body aches abound when I am dehydrated. Bad moods often follow.

So I down a quart of water as quickly as I can, and make sure I have something to eat. Having a toddler in the house means I usually have a ready supply of healthy snacks on hand. Banana chips, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, crackers, and carrot sticks have all helped my “hangry” feelings (angry from being hungry=hangry).

5. Exercise: This is a big one. But it is the one that I avoid the most. I’m not a fitness buff, and it takes a lot for me to get motivated to exercise, but oh boy does it turn around my feelings during a crappy day. We all know that exercise provides your brain with endorphins that make you feel good (ever heard of a “runner’s high”?). But I think that putting my body through a little tough love gives my mind something physical to concentrate on. Rather than stewing about all the so-called ‘awful’ things that have happened throughout the day, I can prop myself up in a plank, feel the burn, and know that I am doing something to better myself. The physical manifestation of pain (*good pain, that comes from exercise) puts my brain in a primal state, and gives it something physical to concentrate on, instead of an abstract emotion.

There are tons of things that we can do to make ourselves feel better during a bad day. Sometimes the answer isn’t going to be found on a simple list on the internet. But these are a few tricks that have worked for me. Sometimes they aren’t enough, and I need to seek out a friend or trusted family member to talk it through. But mostly, I know that my emotions are all up to me. Not anyone else. I have to be held accountable for the kind of day I’m having, even if I’m only accountable to myself.

What do you do to turn your days around? What do you do when you are feeling blue? How do you reverse snowballs?

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