No matter how positive of a person you are, or how much you love your job, bad days happen to the best of us. You spilled your coffee, got stuck in traffic, or tear your pants. By the time you sit down to start work, you’re already having a bad day.
So, when your boss tells you the client wants more changes to a design you spent hours working on, you finally snap and spiral into a full-blown emotional funk. For a lot of people, a bad day can feel like an overwhelming onslaught of emotions: You might be angry, sad, confused, even frustrated with your place in the world. This makes it hard to focus on the tasks you need to get done; it might also make you feel irritable enough to lash out at everyone around you. Before you explode, turning a bad day at work to turn into a crummy week, here are some tips to hide the fact you’re having a bad day.
Avoid venting your frustrations to co-workers
It’s human nature to want to air your grievances to the world, and that’s fine. But grabbing your closest co-worker and give them an unwanted earful about how awful things are won’t help them. While it might be comforting to you, it’s bound to spread some negativity throughout your office. While there are some productive ways to vent in the office, sometimes it’s better to shut up and keep those complaints to yourself; by staying quiet, you avoid the risk of saying the first hateful thing that comes to mind.
If you absolutely need to get something off your chest, consider writing an email with your thoughts and frustrations. BUT DON’T SEND IT. Better yet, just write it down somewhere. This way you can get all of that negativity out, take a deep breath and move on.
Don’t take it personally
A bad day at work can be caused by a number of things. However, if it was set off by someone else’s negativity directed towards you, don’t take it personally. Find a grain of truth in their statements and verbally recognize it. This doesn’t mean you’re necessarily agreeing with them, you’re merely acknowledging. With deliberate practice, you can separate the perceived attack on you and will have taken the lead in the conversation; rather than letting the conversation drive your emotions.
Take a break
Sometimes, you need to do something to throw a wrench into the downward spiral of a bad day. Take a break. This way you can cool off and come back to the office feeling like the positive and eager professional that you are. Go outside and take a walk, run an errand, or head out for a quick cup of coffee. Do whatever you need to in order to get yourself away from your desk and to give yourself a chance to press the reset button.
Research shows that attempting to continue to stay focused on current tasks will only lead to increased fatigue, and an even worse mood. And that won’t do anybody any favours.
Focus on others
The best way to refocus is to go and do something for someone else. While you might be like me and say “screw them,” nothing turns around a bad day like doing something nice for someone else. This random act of kindness will help shift your mind off yourself and your situation. In fact, some research shows that these small niceties actually raise your dopamine levels, making you feel way better in the process.
If you want to learn how to boost your dopamine levels, click here.
Leave a pack of candy from the vending machine on your colleague’s desk, or pick up some coffee for your team. These small acts will not only put a smile on your co-worker’s faces, but likely on yours, too.
When all else fails, fake it ’til you make it
You’ve probably heard this expression before. While it still holds true, it’s best not to let your bad mood rule your entire day and interactions in the office. Put on your most convincing happy face and push through. Science even says that smiling (even when you don’t feel like it) can actually help to improve your mood. So, it might be just what you need to turn that awful day of yours around.
Remember that it’s all too easy to bring our stress and unhappiness home with us too. Leave work at work, go home, relax, and do something that makes you happy. Bad days come after the best of us. And, while having one every now and then is normal, it’s better for everyone if it doesn’t spread around the office. Because at the end of the day, that’ll only make you feel worse. Also check out a humorous look at how to leave work early.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.