Having a Bad Day? 9 Powerful Tips to Help You Turn That Around

how to turn a bad day around

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
Henry David Thoreau

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

Some days are great, better than you would have expected when you rolled out of the bed in the morning.

Quite a few days are just good and OK days.

And then we have the other ones. The days that just wind up being bad.

What do you do then? I used to let them drag me down and I often wound up having not just one but a couple of bad days because of whatever happened.

Nowadays I do things a bit differently. And this week I'd like to share how I do that.

This is 9 tips and habits that help me to turn a bad day around. Most of the time I use more than one of these habits to do that.

1. Breathe.

I usually start turning my day around with shaking things up by using my body in some way.

The first thing I almost always do is to just breathe. I breathe deeply through my nose by using my belly. I focus only on the air going in and out for 1-2 minutes.

This calms my body and mind.

2. Do a power pose.

Then I sometimes follow that up by striking what Amy Cuddy calls a power pose for about 2 minutes (check out her TED talk, it’s really good).

The simplest way to strike a power pose is to stand up confidently like Wonder Woman or Superman with your legs apart, head up and your hands on your hips.

It might sound odd but it can really change how you feel in a quick and positive way.

3. Work out.

Another habit I use several times a week to shake things up by using my body is to lift free weights in my home. I do this for about 30-40 minutes and it helps me to release tensions and worry.

And after I am done I feel more powerful, focused and energetic.

4. Hug.

Just by hugging someone quickly you can feel safer and more optimistic again.

And an embrace that lasts 30 seconds or a minute or more can recharge your batteries and release an unexpectedly large amount of stress and tensions.

5. Pet an animal.

If you don't have anyone close by to hug during a bad day then pet your cat, dog, bird etc. It has a very similar calming and stress reliving effect.

And it makes your animal companion happy and that in turn will boost your mood too.

6. Find a new viewpoint.

The body tips above often work well to change my perspective by altering my emotional state and energy level.

Sometimes something more is needed though.

So I start looking more actively for a better and more helpful viewpoint on the situation at hand by asking myself a couple of questions.

Three of my most commonly used questions that help me with that are:

  • Will this matter 5 years from now?
  • Who cares?
  • What is one small action, one small and practical step I can take to start turning this day or situation around?

7. Go out into nature and enjoy the summer.

Leave your couch or workspace for a little while.

Talk a walk and just soak in the summer sun and warmth. Enjoy the birds singing and the nature blossoming.

Just being out there in nature tends to make it easier to think optimistically again and to start looking for practical solutions or upsides.

Or you can simply be there in the moment fully and let your thoughts about for example work rest for a while (and then later on you can return to that with fresh eyes and a calmer mind).

Another upside is that the sunshine and exercise during this 20-30 minute pause in my day also recharges my energy.

8. Accept what is.

One thing that sometimes work better than just about anything is simply to accept what is at this moment.

To not deny or try to push away negative feelings or thoughts that show up. Even though you may feel an impulse to do so.

Instead, just accept what is right now.

The thoughts and feelings within you.

And just be with them fully and observe them flowing through you.

By doing so you are not giving up.

No, because when you accept what is then you stop feeding the negative thoughts in your mind with more energy. And so they become weaker.

They start to lose their grip on you after a while and then they float away. And so you feel more open and are able to think more clearly again.

9. Remember: sometimes a bad day will just be a bad day.

Now, from time to time, even if you use several of the techniques above – one after the other – you won’t be able to turn a bad day around.

That has been my experience at least.

Because no matter what habits you adopt, life will never be perfect, positive or awesome all the time.

And this website was never about living some kind of life that only exists in a perfect dream anyway.

This website is about replacing unhelpful habits with better ones.

It is about raising the percentages of times where you can handle things in a better way. In your regular, everyday life. And when bigger things happen.

Because that will make a huge difference.

But still, life will have natural valleys.

And a bad day will sometimes just be a bad day. And that’s OK. That’s life.

But the interesting thing is this: if you accept that life is like this sometimes – and let go of the dream of perfection – then you’ll create less suffering for yourself and life will become lighter, simpler and happier.

So in the long run there is an upside even to a bad day that you may not be able to turn around.


About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehack, The Huffington Post and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hi Henrik,

    Great post, I like the #3 tip “work out”, I didn’t try work out, but I am running 30-40 minutes to release tensions and worry every day.

    And as you said ” After I am done I feel more powerful, focused and energetic.” I will give it a try for your other tips.

  • Nathan Ridgway

    Hi Henrik. Encouraging, simple tips. I haven’t read your emails for a while but, things being tougher than usual at the moment, your comments struck a chord. It’s often simple, easily achievable tips for feeling better about life which are the best…in this world of ‘relentless achievement’. One suggestion would be to create a printable version of posts like this: I’ve printed it out (but it’s not very printer friendly), so it’ll actually ‘be in my face’ daily…to try to be ahead of the curve with any bad feelings/sad thoughts. I know you want us to click on the links etc but, to be even more impactful, a plain text printable version of such things would be great. Thanks & regards, Nathan

  • Shashi Ramdaursingh

    Hi Henrik
    Thanks for the tips. I feel very happy and more confident when I read your article.
    God bless

  • Hey Henrik,
    Great list tips. Just thought to add one more…. Listening to the music when we are feeling low. It could be any music of choice, which disconnects with the outer world for sometime.

    i do write some Daily Insights, which are motivational quotes, life quotes and inspirational quotes, based on my learning from life. You can check my daily insights on https://www.insightsoflife.com/daily-insights/

    I would like to see some more blogs from you, specially something on – how respond instead to react during tough times.

    • Frederick T Jaum

      I strongly agree at listening to music. Could be some sort of meditating music such as flowing waters, rain, saxophones, etc. But of course, it would be a music that works for each of us, whichever pacifies us whenever we feel stressed or depressed.

  • Great tips on turning a bad day around Henrik. Along with breathing I like to use meditation and creative visualization to help focus on a positive outcome.

  • Thanks for sharing this Information with us. I really impressed by this website, Now this my Bookmarked website. This is really a nice and informative, containing all information and also has a great impact on the new blogger. Thanks for sharing it.

  • I have found that learning to “accept what is” is the greatest skill you can master in life, especially when you’re having a bad day. Thanks for this great list.

  • Breathing helps a lot; you can start your day with pranayama, which is a breathing exercise. You can also add 10-20 mins cardio it helps in increasing blood flow to the brain.

  • Andrea

    I agree very much, listening to music relaxes a lot and is very good for the heart and soul and makes you feel happier, as far as nature is concerned and always nice to be in contact with nature and what surrounds