8 Things You Can Do If You've Had The Worst Day

Whether you had a huge fight with your partner, or a work meeting that didn't go as planned, or you just had a series of unfortunate, awkward events, almost all of us have gone through the kind of day that makes you want to crawl into bed as soon as you get home and stay there for the rest of eternity. It's a totally understandable reaction.

While throwing on sweatpants and tuning out the world is one way to deal, Marni Amsellem, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Smart Health Psychology, says there are plenty of other things you can do to turn a crappy day around, should you feel so inclined. She also points out that it's important to take care of yourself after a bad day, even if it doesn't seem like a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.

"We need to nurture ourselves regularly in order to build ourselves up," she says. "We become more vulnerable to the effects of stress when we haven't." Even if you think you're just dealing with a bunch of daily annoyances, those tiny little things can add up. "What we do on a regular basis very much affects how we will respond when we’re in a very stressful place," Dr. Amsellem says.

With that in mind, we asked a few therapist for their tips on how to bounce back from a doozy of a bad day. Read on for their advice.

Reach out to someone — preferably IRL.

Sometimes, you just need to talk it out — and no, commenting on someone's Instagram doesn't count. Jamie Justus, LCSW, a therapist based in Austin, says that getting in touch with a friend every day can do wonders.

"This can be in person, a phone call, or texting/online messaging, but it should be more contact than replying to posts on social media," she says.


We know, we know — it seems like obvious textbook "how to feel better" advice, but hey, there's a reason why people recommend it so often.

"The act of meditating clears away some of the muck of everyday life and helps us to connect to an idea of different energetic place," Justus says. To start with, she recommends the loving kindness meditation to help you feel more connected to other people if you're feeling a little isolated.

"A loving kindness meditation goes through wishing happiness, health, and freedom to ourselves, those we know, and to the whole world and can create a sense of connection with others," she says.

Treat yourself the way you would treat your best friend.

When you've had a rough day, it's easy to beat yourself up over what you think you said or did wrong, but Marcia Norman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist based in Florida, says that at a certain point, self-criticism just keeps you down.

So how do you be kinder to yourself?

"Notice the good, the intelligent, the kind in yourself," she says. "Notice your beauty. Pay attention to what is best about YOU. Quick litmus test: would you say those things you are telling yourself to your best friend? If the answer is no, then stop saying them to yourself."

Take time to focus.

On that note, if you're feeling overwhelmed by everything (and not just self-negativity), it's tough to focus.

"Stop and focus on one thing or practice in your immediate environment," Justus says. This could mean stopping to breathe, take a walk, do a visualization exercise, or (my recent favorite) to look at one site, such as #rabbitsofinstagram. Feeling overwhelmed comes from focusing on too many things at once and feeling under attack by all of our demands. Stopping to focus on one thing can seem counter-intuitive, but it can help to let your nervous system unwind."

Give yourself a minute.

While we'd all love to be able to say no to things we don't want to do, it often isn't possible. But to start, maybe you can just give yourself a minute to think about whether you really have time to get dinner with your friend across town when all you actually want to do is eat a microwaved meal in your bed and decompress from the day.

"Saying no can be an act of self-care, but can be hard to do as most of us want to be helpful," Justus says. "Start by pausing when a request is made of you, and not answering right away. It might mean taking a few minutes before replying to an email or letting someone know that you'll have to think about their request before answering. This pause will give you more time to evaluate what is best for you, your values, and your energy."

Give yourself a pat on the back.

While you're giving yourself some time, don't forget to give yourself a break, too. There's value in being your own cheerleader, and celebrating what you've accomplished, instead of focusing on what made your day so bad in the first place.

"By cheering myself on when I accomplish something (like completing my clinical notes), I am focusing on what I have accomplished and not on what I 'should' be doing," Justus says.

Check in with yourself.

If something's really bothering you, though, it's worth it to dive into what that is and why you're upset.

For example, if you walked out of a meeting at work and felt like it didn't go well, ask yourself what bothered you and what went wrong. Was it something someone said or did, or didn’t do? Did you feel like you weren’t contributing what you could have?

"When you’re more in tune with that, you’re better able to ask what can be done about it, rather than letting it fester into something even more negative," Dr. Amsellem says.

Laugh it off.

When all else fails, lean on your sense of humor.

Dr. Norman refers to the old proverb, "He who can laugh at himself will never cease to be amused," adding that even if you're having a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, finding a way to laugh it off can help you accept yourself and your situation if there's nothing else you can do to change it.

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