Top Ten Ways to Make It a Better Day by Beverly Delidow, PhD
Have you ever had one of those days? You know the ones – you wake up tired because someone was conducting middle of the night antics, the coffee maker breaks down just as it starts to make your life-giving brew, the bulb burns out in your bathroom just as you get your hair all full of shampoo, and there’s apparently someone who needs CPR driving the car in front of you when you know you’re about to be ten minutes late to work… oh yeah. I can hear the arteries popping from here. Take a breath. Help is on the way.
These are some of the things I’ve tried that may help get you started on easing out of that tension. They don’t all work every single time. But at least one will.
1. Go slow. There are some days that you know the minute you wake up: this is not going to be pretty. Making it more of a shock by having loud screaming lights and noise will not help. Give yourself ten minutes of hygge* to breathe a little. Keep the lights low, light a small candle even; have a cup of tea and a small nibble sitting in the quiet. Then let the lights come up – it makes entry into the day much more peaceful.
2. Find a little way to do something nice for others. Bring a bag of apples or clementines to the office break room – it’s just a few dollars and not only do you get some fruit, but the smiles and maybe even ‘thank you’s from others are a nice bonus.
3. MUSIC. Have a couple albums lined up in your playlist that always make you feel better. Use headphones and a secret smile. My favorites are ‘Bunnies and Muffins’ by Mochipet and ’21st Century Breakdown’ by Green Day. (Yes – I am a short, round, 50-something academic with a hidden electronic punk rocker inside – RAD). Most days, music will run straight over a bad mood and give me an instant lift.
4. Cushion your day. Be very specific about what external stuff you let in to your immediate vicinity. Shut the door to your office and work in quiet. Take a walk to give yourself a break. Take work to a different space where you can’t be uninterrupted.
5. Cushioning includes the news, especially anything that has screaming headlines or emotionally draining appeals. Turn it off for the day – what’s important to you will still be there tomorrow. (NOTE: “Important to YOU”. At any time you are allowed to turn off the things that don’t meet that criterion.)
6. Cushioning also includes niggly stuff. Pick a word that triggers you and give yourself permission to delete/ignore/dismiss every single post and email and tweet that uses it. My trigger word is “influencers” – makes me gag. So, out it goes. Maybe yours is “toe socks” or “botarga” or “phlegm”. Zap ’em all! Having a definitive action that gets rid of some of the emotional clutter is freeing.
7. Hydrate. This can be as simple as having a half mug of water while waiting for the office coffee maker. It doesn’t seem like much, but a thirsty brain is a cranky brain.
8. Nourish. Eat real food at a pace that lets you taste it. No wolfing down a stale candy bar from a random vending machine while running from Awful Meeting A to Exasperating Meeting B. That is not going to help. Tell the people in A you have another commitment. Tell the people in B you’ll be there a few minutes late. And eat real food. Hunger feeds anger. Feed you instead.
9. Move. Using energy in a positive way can create some positive flow. Take a walk, walk the dog, play a sport, go for a run. Sometimes trading emotional frizz for a little sweat tames the willies.
10. If what you’re holding on to is anger, frustration, angst, fear, or other emotion that is in your way – let go. It’s a balloon. It’s blocking your view and not serving you. You’re holding the string. Let go. I know – it’s way harder to do than it is to say. It does not mean that the things that upset you aren’t real or aren’t important. It just means that you’re ready to find a less wigged out path to doing what you gotta do. It is possible and you have done it before. Breathe. Let go. Imagine it floating away from you. Breathe again. And you’re free. (And if you have stubborn little balloons that follow you, like a few of mine do, drop the string and pick up a pin…)
11. A bonus one (because who couldn’t use a bonus on a bad day). Go ahead and complain. BUT – here’s the kicker – offer the complaint to the party that caused it. AND do it in a firm, from strength, without drama way. Act from your strength to address one thing that’s bugging you – it doesn’t even have to be a big thing – and the rest will already feel better. Because… You got this. And you can get the rest.
May your days be blessed, even when they start out a little wonky.
*Hygge is a Danish word that implies coziness and comfort. It invokes taking pleasure in small things that are all around you. Lovely.
Beverly Delidow is a university faculty member, writer and photographer. She also writes the weekly blog, Here’s a Quarter (http://heresaquarter.com) and has published fiction, poetry, and photography.
And if you want to get your current semester organized or prepare for the next, I highly recommend If You Do Nothing Else This Semester. With the strategies I present you will get the strategies you need to not only have a successful semester, but a successful year.