Delayed flights, broken phone screens, and toddler meltdowns are just a few possible ingredients for a nightmare day. But when it comes to chaos, challenges do seem to come in waves. It’s a fascinating phenomenon, and there have even been scientific studies that prove bad luck can be real thing.

When everything seems to be going wrong, it’s tempting to reach some pretty dark conclusions quickly. I can’t do anything right. My life is a disaster. The very nature of our cosmos is against me. But it’s in this moment of crisis that you have the power to set yourself up for success tomorrow.

The best news is this: if bad luck exists, then good luck is real, too. All you have to do is adjust your mindset to allow it to start happening. In fact, a really bad no-good day can be a strong indication that it’s time to stop and reset your perspective in a larger way.

Scroll down to discover 6 simple ways to recover from a nightmare day, and remember that tomorrow could be a really great one.

photo by kristen kilpatrick

Consult the basic needs checklist.

My grandmother taught me that when a bad mood strikes, the first things to ask yourself are this: Do I need food? Do I need sleep? Do I need a shower or change of clothes? She was wise enough to observe that her two adult children never really outgrew this “toddler checklist”. Ask yourself these simple questions at the end of a nightmare day, and you may find that you need all three things. A hot shower, satisfying meal and early bedtime can make the world look new in the morning.

photo by ashleigh amoroso

Stay off social media.

Many studies have taken a closer look at a possible link between social media, anxiety, and depression. While the jury is still out on whether social media use actually causes depression, we can safely say that social media can be triggering for people who are currently feeling despair. In other words, today is not the day to check up on your ex or examine the picture perfect lives of casual acquaintances. Give yourself a break from the scroll, and pick up a book or remote instead.

photo by ashleigh amoroso

Break out the gratitude journal.

A gratitude journal is NEVER more powerful than it is at the end of a really bad day. You may find it challenging to find 5-10 things you’re thankful for in this moment, but you’ll be glad you did. For each thing you’re grateful for, write it out in a complete sentence. I’m so glad I have this cozy apartment with central heat and soft bed on a freezing cold night. As you write these things, you’ll be actively enjoying them and thinking about them. What a good feeling.

photo by ashleigh amoroso

Turn to the healing magic of animals.

Nothing soaks up the bad and radiates the good like cuddling a pet you love. This is really one way where animals are such a blessing in our lives. They can often sense when we’re in pain, and if you open yourself up to it, they will comfort you. It’s truly like magic. If you don’t have a pet of your own, you could try putting on a great nature documentary. I just saw the new Netflix doc, Dancing with the Birds, and it’s so lighthearted and fascinating. You simply can’t watch it without smiling. Animals remind us that a lot of the things we worry about are well, just silly human stuff. Turn your focus to an innocent animal at the end of a bad day for an instant love boost.

photo by belathee

Postpone important decisions and conversations.

By the end of a really bad day, you may be feeling the impulse to confront your partner about that big thing that’s bothering you, or make a drastic decision about work or finances. Your emotions are running hot, your adrenaline is pumping, and you’re just plain FED UP with the way things are going. Contrary to how it may feel, this is not the time to make big decisions. You’re emotionally out of control, and there’s a strong chance you’ll regret the decisions you make when you’re in that state. Postpone big decisions until tomorrow, and take care of yourself tonight. You’ll be glad in the morning.

photo by kristen kilpatrick

Practice the art of “reframing.”

Positive reframing is a wonderful resiliency skill to develop, and something that can help you find the bright side — and even humor — in your day gone wrong. Reframing a situation is simple. Instead of dwelling on how things could have gone better, allow yourself to really think about how they could be horribly worse:

So you accidentally locked yourself out of your apartment. At least you’re locked out of it — with the option of walking to Whole Foods — as opposed to locked INSIDE of it, living on popcorn and matcha powder for the rest of your life.

So reframing is a powerful, even fun tool for finding the comedy in our own errors. The next time you find yourself dealing with a nightmare day, try reframing the situation for a new point of view. Who knows. You might even find yourself laughing out loud at how things could have gone worse.

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Comments (2)
  1. 1
    Denise October 30, 2019 at 11:15 am

    I was a passenger in a car in a fender bender this weekend. My friend who was driving was understandably upset, but as we drove north on the highway, we passed a much worse accident. She said “well, that could have been us, but something or someone made sure it wasn’t”. Such a positive way to look at things, and I vowed right than and there to practice reframing.

    • Jennifer Rose Smith October 31, 2019 at 1:20 am

      Denise, that’s it exactly! Glad your accident was a minor one.