Occasionally, we have a day where nothing goes the way we wanted or planned. It can be incredibly frustrating.
The events of the day can distract us and prevent us from doing our best work. Sometimes to help us deal with the situation, we need to find something to make us smile, delight us, or allow us to vent a little.
Disconnecting from a frustrating situation, even for just five minutes, can sometimes make us feel better. It might help us find a resolution to the problem. And (possibly) be less cranky to our co-workers, family, and friends.
Here’s a list of low-cost, no cost things a person can do when things aren’t going as planned. Depending on your situation, some of these might be easier to do than others. The purpose of the list is to find one or two that work well for you.
- Take a walk. Preferably outside. Especially if we’re having a bad day at work. Changing the scenery by getting some fresh air and seeing nature can give us fresh perspective. Even a walk around the building could have some value.
- Listen to your favorite song (or podcast). Gretchen Rubin is the author of the New York Times best-seller “The Happiness Project”. She now has a podcast that focuses on habits and happiness.
- Play a game. Try not to play the games that frustrate you. (You know which ones!) Find a game that’s a little more Zen-like. Neko Atsume (which translates to Cat Collector) is a game where all you do is collect and take care of cats. Don’t let the description fool you. It’s an addictive game.
- Treat yourself to a coffee (or tea!) Some days, we need a jolt of caffeine in the afternoon. Maybe a cold-brew coffee or a pumpkin spice latte can serve as an occasional treat. But other days, a cuppa green tea could be soothing. And if you walk to a coffee shop (see #1), even better.
- Practice deep breathing (or mindfulness). You can do this on your own or with the assistance of apps like Headspace, which offers short or long mindfulness activities. Not into mindfulness? The Apple Watch offers breathing prompts, which can be scheduled for daily reminders.
- Jot down one thing you’re grateful for. Shawn Achor, author of the book “The Happiness Advantage” focuses his work on the science of happiness and gratitude. One of the activities he suggests is writing down the things you’re grateful for. You can create a gratitude journal in soft or hard copy.
- Read inspirational quotes or something totally fun. If social media isn’t the source of your frustration, there are plenty of memes and gifs to make you smile. Maybe find a blog that is good for a laugh. And did you know, you can get daily comics online? Check out GoComics.com.
- Coloring. Yes, adult coloring is still a thing. You can do it digitally with an app like Recolor or go old school with paper books and pencils. Find the images that you like. There are books themed around home design, fashion, and even some NSFW ones.
- Call your mentor (or a family member or BFF). A conversation with a trusted advisor, someone who will listen without judgement, is exactly the right thing to stay grounded during frustrating times. One word of caution. Depending on the situation, it might be best to vent with someone outside the organization.
- Write down your frustration. Then shred it. There’s symbolism in this activity. Write the angry email or letter with all of the expletives and gripes. Get it all out. Then destroy it. Really. You’ve symbolically gotten it off your chest and it’s time to let go.
Again, the purpose of this list is to be a reminder that a five or ten-minute distraction can help us shift our focus without losing our cool. You might want to bookmark this page for the next time things aren’t going well.
Please keep in mind that, if you feel you’re having more frustrating days than you should or it’s getting more difficult to stay focused, these activities might not be effective. Your company might have resources that you can use like an employee assistance program (EAP) or your health insurance.
Everyone has bad days. It’s how we deal with them that makes a difference.