You still have to get up and go to work, but before you even get there, you’re already seething inside. You try to do your job but somehow all the angry, dissatisfied clients have conspired to call you and complain on the same day – though you have no idea how they coordinated that little feat.
Everything your co-workers say to you sounds incredibly stupid. Everyone seems out to annoy you. The next person to open his mouth is likely to get his head ripped clean off.
Not much fun, huh? Luckily, you can do something about it. Here are six ways to turn around a bad day.
1: Accept your bad mood
Being in a bad mood is not that hard. Being in a bad mood while trying to force yourself to cheer up really sucks.
Fighting a bad mood only prolongs it, so if you’re mad, be mad. If you’re sad, be sad. This does not give you license to be rude and unpleasant to innocent bystanders, it just means that you need to recognize and accept your bad mood to be able to do something about.
2: Tell others
In one chapter of the Happy At Work Book, I describe how the IT support department at medical company Leo Pharma give employees permission to say when they’re having a bad day. With the result that people have fewer bad days and recover faster from the ones they do have.
You can try to keep you bad mood a secret and put on your happy mask. Guess what, you’re fooling nobody. Your co-workers will notice and they will wonder what they’ve done to piss you off.
The best thing to do, is to tell the peope you work closely with. Simply tell them “listen guys, I’m in a really sour mood to today. I’m not sure why, but it’s nothing you have done. If I bite your head off, I apologize in advance”.
3: Look inside first
In the extremely influential book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman argues that EQ, your emotional quotient, is what makes you successful, not IQ. This means that the truly successful people are not the smart ones but the ones with the best emotional skills.
Goleman defines five emotional competencies that make up EQ, two of which are:
- The ability to identify and name one’s emotional states and to understand the link between emotions, thought and action.
- The capacity to manage one’s emotional states — to control emotions or to shift undesirable emotional states to more adequate ones.
In other words, EQ relies on your ability to recognize and deal with your own emotions.
When you’re in a bad mood, it’s extremly tempting to look around you for sources of that mood. “Man I’m annoyed today. Must be Paul talking loudly on the phone. Or Lisa being late with the specs once again. Or…”
We tend to think that a bad mood is always caused by something or someone else. And when we’re in a bad mood, everything suddenly becomes annoying, making it even easier to find justifications for the bad mood.
But not every bad mood has a reason. Maybe you just slept badly. Or you’re coming down with the flu. Or you’re just having a bad day. In these cases, trying to justify a bad mood is a sucker’s bet.
Instead, you must look inside yourself first, to see what might or might not be the cause of your negative emotional state. Here’s one way to do it.
4: Remember the good stuff
When you’re in a foul mood, everything is bad. But the good things you appreciated yesterday, where you weren’t as annoyed, are probably still there – you’re just not seeing them.
Spend a few moments to try think of at least one or two things that aren’t all bad. Something you look forward to. A person you like at work. Something nice that happened recently.
5: This too shall pass
You’ve been in a bad mood before. It passed. So will this one. It’s no big deal.
6: Take some quiet time
And if you’re having a really bad day, it may be a good idea to withdraw a little if you can. Take a walk in your lunch break. Sit and work somewhere quiet. Take a loooooong bathroom break. Consider going home early or taking the day off.
Or this may happen:
The tips in this post work for the occasional bad day. If you find yourself having one bad day after another, you need to do something more. Your job may be bringing you down, and you may be in danger of contracting stress. You may even be having a depression. If you think this may be happening, do something and talk to someone.
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