How to Handle a Bad Day

So you’ve had a bad day.

That can be really hard. The good news is, you’re not alone. Every person on planet earth has bad days now and again, and the bad news is that this will probably happen to you again. The key is to figure out how to acknowledge what happened, deal with the outcomes and your emotions, and keep moving forward. Learning how to be resilient in the face of rough times is something that is bound to make you stronger and more adaptable when the next tricky or stressful thing comes along.

Whether you’re just feeling off or something specific happened that made the day no good, there are some helpful things you can do to turn the day around. Consider the following options the next time you’re tempted to wallow in your dorm room for the next week.

1. Take some deep breaths

This is especially helpful if you’re feeling panicky or completely overwhelmed. Deep breathing is really important, and while it might feel like you’re not accomplishing anything in the moment, you’re actually doing a lot. “Taking a deep breath in is actually linked to the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight-or-flight response,” according to Healthline. “But exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which influences our body’s ability to relax and calm down.”

Taking deep breaths can focus your mind on the here and can help alleviate racing or circular thoughts. Just be sure to make your exhales nice and long so that you don’t end up hyperventilating.

2. Practice gratitude

Our brains are so wonderfully skilled at focusing on all the terrible things in life. After all, they’re programmed to look for danger, so it can be easy to fixate on that one negative thing that happened during the day instead of all the wonderful things that actually exist around you.

When you’re feeling like everything is going wrong, take some time to list the things that are true about your life and that you’re grateful for. You have people who care about you. You are alive. You have the ability to make decisions about your life. You have the sunrise and the sunset each day. Whatever it is, make a list, and try to spend a minute or two thinking about each of those things on your list.

3. Give yourself some time to feel

Stuffing your emotions is never a good idea. Fixating on them isn’t either. Take some time to journal out your feelings, or verbally process what happened by talking with a trusted friend or family member. Get it all out there, but then after you’ve had the time to think about it a bit, take some time to do something else. Watch a funny show or go for a long walk. Bake something delicious or get started on that paper you’ve been putting off. It can be hard to focus on other things when it feels like the world is crashing down around you, but it’s a good idea to get involved with something else so you can start the process of moving on.

4. Have some self-compassion

Are you being kind to yourself? Or are you berating yourself for a silly decision or a mistake that was made? Are you making assumptions that other people think you’re terrible? Are you allowing your inner critic to go on a rampage? Your feelings are directly related to the thoughts you have, so it’s important to guard your mind and heart—even from yourself! Take some time to look up truths about what God thinks about you, and write them down or post them somewhere so you can remember them. All you can do is the best with what you have and what you know—the rest you have to trust the Lord with.

5. Hang in there

Remind yourself that “His mercies are new every morning.” It’s pretty amazing how a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your mind and how you respond to stress. Things won’t always feel like this, and you will feel better eventually. Do what you can in the time being, and don’t get too despondent. Engage in a little self-care or try something new. There’s always a lesson to be found in every failure, and you can certainly use that to inform your future. Hang in there!