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4 Quick Check-Ins to Change the Course of a Tough Day


Tough day step 1: Ask yourself, “Have I taken care of my body today?”

On the hardest of days, many of us typically miss a meal.  Some of us eat only foods that make us feel good right away (think: sugar).  We can also overload on caffeine to get us through the day. We might be sleep deprived, our bodies might be overdone, or we might just be plain old hungry. When you get stuck in the “Wow, I’m having a BAD day” thoughts, stop for a second and see if there’s something you can do to take care of your body. It can help!

Tough Day Step 2: Check In, “What is it that has me so upset?”

A bad day is often made up of a series of unhappy moments. We tend to stuff these moments into our pockets and carry them around with us all day, pulling them out to look at later, to add to the stack.  We may even tell our partners, “You won’t believe the day I had!” When we do this, a moment of frustration (e.g., my coworker is being too loud!) is no longer a single moment, but another little piece to stack on your bad-day pile. Once stacked up, it looks a whole lot meaner and a whole lot more disruptive. We need moments to remind us that we can clear off the desk.

When you feel yourself calling your day a “bad day,” see if you can stop for a moment and try to recenter. Ask yourself whether you need to keep carrying around the little citations, or whether you can acknowledge that those moments were painful, but also allow them to be over. The only power they have on you at this point is power that you give them by continuing to call up and re-hash them.

Tough Day Step 3: Say to yourself, “I’m sorry it’s such a hard day!”

How many of us are guilty of responding to stress with self-criticism? You might find that when you’re stressed out, there’s a little voice that wants to chime in and tell you that it’s your own fault. While you can take responsibility for your actions, it rarely helps to sit and dwell on blaming and shaming yourself. Try this out: Imagine a friend comes to you and tells you they’ve just had the worst day. What words would you use with them? Do they sound like “It’s your own fault” or “If you were smarter/better this wouldn’t have happened”? No, probably not. (If so, go ahead and link over to our blog articles on communication!) Rather, they probably sound like “I’m so sorry,” or “Gosh, that stinks.” Try those phrases out on yourself. Kindness helps us respond; shame helps us shut down.

tough day

“Kindness helps us respond; shame helps us shut down.”

Dr Mollie Burke

Tough Day Step 4: Try, “Bring it on. I’ve got this.”

Many of us are guilty of going over and over a difficult day in our heads.  We say things like, “I can’t handle this.” Often, this comes out of distress. Our minds are overwhelmed, our bodies are tired, our emotions are in overdrive – and we tend to respond with statements like “I can’t do this anymore,” or “Forget it,” or “I’m no good at this.”

While we don’t want to necessarily invite trouble our way, sometimes changing the script away from fearful or defeated language can make a hard day seem more manageable. Rather than telling yourself that you can’t do it, call up your best defiant attitude and send out a dare. “Bring it on! I’ve got this.” Instead of letting your language be about the stress, and your powerlessness to handle it, focus your language on your own strength and the resources you have to tackle whatever comes your way.

“Bring it on!  I’ve got this!”


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