How To Shake Off A Bad Day At Work, According To Experts

Your boss yells at you during an all-staff meeting. You accidentally delete an important work file. You get drenched in the pouring rain as you run to catch your train. Is it no wonder that when the clock strikes 5:00 PM, you practically bolt out of your cube and out the door? Thing is, you don’t want to walk into your house in a funky mood that is sure to upset your kiddos. If you’re looking for ways to shake off a bad day at work, these tips can help.

“In between leaving the workplace and arriving home is a space, a blank slate of time (usually a commute of some length) that you can use to either rehearse the bad moments and reinforce the bad feelings of the workday or you can use that space to disconnect from the negative incidents and negative feelings,” Dr. Ramon Presson, a licensed marriage and family therapist tells Celebrity Parents. You largely get to choose which approach you’re going to take.” If you’re looking to have a less stressful commute (and come home happier to your kids), you might need some help retraining your brain to stop dwelling on the negative thoughts of the day and focus on something positive instead.

  1. Get grateful

It might be challenging to adopt an attitude of gratitude when you just want to clock your colleague in the face. But in order to find your center again, you’ll need to focus very hard on what went right (and not wrong) during your workday, according to Wendy Toth, founder of PowerSuiting, a career coaching and resume-writing business designed for creative women. “If you can change your attitude to one of gratitude, suddenly everything at work will seem better, and transitioning to home life will get easier,” says Toth. So, how do you do it? “Grab a notebook and write down three veryspecific things that happened in the course of your day that you are genuinely thankful for.” Soon, practicing gratitude will be a given, and you’ll naturally incorporate it into your day, looking for things to be happy about — including your job.

2. Reconnect with your kid — and yourself

If you’re planning to get your child from school, take a few minutes prior to pick up to soak it all in. “I always picked up my daughter at school, and would either take a swing through the younger kids’ classrooms or peek into the playground to reacclimatize myself to my daughter’s world,” says Amy Feind Reeves, CEO & Founder of JobCoachAmy. “It helped to remember that the issues I had faced in school seemed terribly important to me at the time but I couldn’t remember them now. Whatever had happened to me at the office that day, I knew there would come a time when I couldn’t remember them either.” When possible, try not to rush through the pick-up process and instead try to get a glimpse of your child playing, which just might make you realize that your work-related issues aren’t such a big deal after all.

3. Get affirmative

Although a rough day at the office might seem overwhelming, you can control the way you let it affect you. And one way to do that is by offering up affirmations, says Cassandra Fallon, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Thriveworks in Colorado Springs. “Affirmations can act as reminders we tell ourselves to manage our reactions to difficult events or situations,” she says. “Things like ‘This is not the end of the world,’ ‘We have to have bad days to be able to enjoy good days,’ or ‘I got hard feedback that I will grow and learn from.” By reminding yourself that this is simply a moment in time can help you shake off a bad day faster.

4. Take a (deep) breath

If you’ve ever caught yourself holding your breath during a stressful situation shows that having a tough day can truly affect you physically. The cure: slow and thoughtful breathing. “Deep breathing can help with allowing our parasympathetic nervous system to calm down and relax,” adds Fallon. “Our physical response to stress can impact our emotional and behavioral reactions.” After all, if you don’t feel calm in your body, you’re not going to react well to stressful stimuli. So in those moments when you feel like everything’s crashing in on you, step away if you have to and practice deep breathing. You’re bound to feel better.

5. Schedule something special

Sometimes, the only thing that can get you through a tough day is knowing that there’s something sweeter on the other side. It might be a dinner date with your partner or a solo trip to Target. But whatever makes you feel calmer, be sure to put it on your calendar. “Some of us may find immediate comfort in scheduling something later in the day or week that is for us,” says Fallon. “Scheduling a massage next week may help me feel better now or a coffee/phone call with my best friend later on today can give me something to look forward to.”

6. Speak to someone

“My biggest advice to help shake it off: talk with someone,” advises Jaime-Alexis Fowler, Founder & Executive Director, Empower Work. “Whether it’s a friend, a partner, or a peer counselor at Empower Work, getting the internal roiling that is happening out of our systems is critical.” Even if you aren’t seeking solutions and simply need to vent, talking with someone who has a kind ear can make all the difference. And if the situation is chronic or critical, you might want to speak with your manager about it.

7. Point out the positive

Even on the toughest of days, there’s always something to be happy about. It might be as simple as tackling just one thing on your to do list, or even the taste of your tea mid-morning. Whatever it is, don’t forget to celebrate it, since it can help you build momentum towards better moments, Roy Cohen, a career counselor and executive coach explains. “Focus on something good that happened to you during the course of your day,” he says. “Forced (AKA optimism with intention) can be a powerful tool to offset the demons.”

8. Create a routine

Making the segue from work to home can be a struggle for some. But if you set up a routine or two, you might make the transition less challenging. “It can be super helpful to have after work routines to help your brain shift from work mode to home mode,” says Alicia Johnson, M.S., LMFT, a licensed therapist. “This can be blasting a fun playlist in the car on the drive home. Changing into different clothes. Grabbing a glass of water before talking. Anything quick and symbolic to help your brain switch to home mode.”

9. Regain control

When you find it challenging to let the workday go, remind yourself that the day isn’t over yet. And as such, you are responsible for how the rest of your day works for you — or doesn’t. “Break down your day into sections. You are heading into a new section of this day, and you are in charge of what happens in this brand new section of the day,” Andrea Rowell, MSW, RSW, a social worker practicing in Toronto explains. “When you have limited control over work life but have a certain level of control and authority in your home life, you can remind yourself that this part of the day is different.” So design the day how you’d like, whether that’s watching a show you love or simply snuggling with your kids. Remember, you get to decide how your day ends.

10. Process it all

Sometimes, people want to shake off a bad day at work so quickly that might not give emotions enough time to process and heal. But you should give yourself time to take in what has happened. By allowing yourself to feel all your emotions (good and bad), you’ll be able to move on, since trying to eliminate the anger or frustration you feel by not thinking about it can only cause it to stay — and for you to ruminate longer.

Learning how to shake off a rough day at work can take time. But once you realize that you’re in control, you can put everything in perspective so that you can move on with the rest of your day in a happier mindframe.

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