7 Easy Ways to Improve a Bad Day

Some days just don’t seem to go right. Maybe you get into an argument with your partner, or end up yelling at the kids. Or perhaps work goes badly — you make a silly mistake, or accidentally delete the file you were working on. Whatever the cause, the result is the same: you end up feeling fed up, stressed out, and unhappy.

It’s easy to let a few frustrating incidents turn into a thoroughly bad day, too; perhaps you come home from work in a bad mood and end up feeling sulky all evening. But there’s no need to feel miserable all day long.

Here are seven ways to improve a bad day:

#1: Do Something Just for You

It can be tough to find time for yourself — but on a bad day, it’s important that you get a bit of mental (and probably physical) space. That might mean going out for a coffee, or reading a few chapters of a novel, or playing a video game for an hour, or meditating … whatever works for you.

In fact, “me time” is a good idea on a regular basis: having the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate makes it easier to brush off any little things that go badly in the course of your day.

#2: Have Your Favorite Dinner

Okay, this one might seem a bit silly or childish … but sometimes that’s just what you need at the end of a long day! Something as simple as your favorite meal can really put a smile back on your face.

(Note, I’m not suggesting comfort eating here: sure, stuffing your face with a giant candy bar might make you feel a temporary sugar high, but it’s not going to make you feel any better after that.)

#3: Go For Some Easy Wins

A sense of achievement and progress can do a lot to cancel out a bad day. Maybe you’re frustrated because you don’t seem to be getting anywhere at work, or at home. Instead of tackling a huge big project, look for a few quick and easy wins.

Make that phone call you’ve been putting off. Book those tickets. Sort out that stack of papers. Deal with those emails. See how many five-minute tasks you can knock off your list. You’ll feel much better once you get them done.

#4: Talk to Someone You Love

Whether it’s phoning your mom, going out for dinner with your spouse, or hanging out with your kids, talking to someone who you love can really lift your mood. Don’t spend ages whining about your day to them — instead, ask how they’ve been, or share something positive that’s happened.

If it’s not practical to speak to someone (if you’re not supposed to make personal calls from work, for instance) how about sending a quick email or text to say “I love you” or to let them know you’re thinking of them? Not only will you feel better, you might well improve their day too.

#5: Take a Shower/Bath

There’s definitely something therapeutic about washing: as well as physically cleaning the body, it can be a great way to metaphorically wash away any negative things that have happened during the day.

Getting a shower in the evening can be a great way to feel refreshed after work. A long, relaxing bath could be a good chance to relax before bed. Plus, a shower/bath provides a bit of peace and quiet if you live in a busy household!

#6: Find the Silver Lining

Whatever’s gone wrong, there’s almost certainly some good to be found in it. Perhaps you made a mistake at work — at least next time, you’ll be more likely to watch out for that particular problem (you might even be able to improve a process or system so that similar mistakes are harder to make in future).

It can be hard to look on the bright side, but if you make it a habit, you’ll find that it’s easier to recover from things that go badly. Instead of ruining your whole day, they’ll just be a temporary blip.

#7: Make Yourself Laugh

When I’m in a bad mood, one of my sure-fire ways to feel better is to laugh. Web comics, funny videos on YouTube, humorous websites, amusing photos … it’s easy to find something that makes me giggle.

You might think that if you’re having a lousy day, nothing is going to make you laugh. But give it a try: find something that always raises a smile, and you’ll feel better almost immediately.


Do you have any tips on improving a bad day? Share your ideas with us in the comments…



Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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