You know you’re having a bad day when…
Your 4-year-old tells you it’s almost impossible to flush a grapefruit down the toilet.
It costs more to fill up the car than it did to buy it.
The bird singing outside your window is a vulture.
You need one bathroom scale for each foot.
Nothing you own is actually paid for.
People think you are 65 and you’re actually 60.
You need to sit down to brush your teeth in the morning.
Maybe you can identify with one or two of these. If not, perhaps you can empathize. Some days we are not at our best and some days are not best for us. So, what can we do to feel better when we are not having a good day? Of course, one solution is to hide out until tomorrow. But that may not be an option for you and it’s usually not the best solution either.
We are physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual beings. Any one of these facets of our makeup can be out of sorts, which can leave us feeling out of sorts. Sometimes feeling like we are having a bad day is like a warning light on a car alerting us that something needs attention. If that’s so, then you need to ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” If you’re anything like me, the first thing that comes to mind is usually not it. I must ask this question again, “Why am I REALLY feeling this way?” This helps me get to the bottom of it because it’s usually something I don’t want to face.
The real key to feeling better today is to take care of the thing that is causing you to feel bad in the first place. It may be a project that you are putting off. It could be a deadline for something that is drawing near. Perhaps it is a relationship that needs confrontation or correcting. If any of these are the case, or if it’s something like it, the things I’m listing to make you feel better today are not for you. These would become delay tactics, keeping you from acting on what is really bothering you.
If this is not that case and you are simply not feeling good, then I’ve got some simple self-care things for you. Sometimes the thing bothering us is something that we can’t do anything about anyway. I’m going to give you seven good things you can do to feel better today. These are good things because if you do them today, it will help you to have a better day tomorrow.
1. Go outside and exercise
If the weather is good, going outside for even a few minutes is enough to lift your mood. Nature has a wonderful way of calming and distracting us from our troubled thoughts and feelings. Even sitting on a porch is sometimes enough. When you add exercise to this, it’s even better. Go for a walk or run. Ride a bicycle. If you are able, take a child to a playground.
2. Take a break and escape
While going outside can be part of taking a break, there are other ways to take a break. You can get a snack, take a short nap, play a game, watch a show, listen to a podcast, or read a chapter in a novel. I call it taking a little mental vacation. I’ve even used this to motivate me in writing this blog. I told myself that I’d take a break when I finished the first draft. So, I’m focused for now so I can go for a walk outside later.
3. Help someone
Helping someone is a double blessing. You help them and they are grateful, but you also help yourself by giving something of yourself away, your time, your talent or even your money. You increase your satisfaction with life as well. It reinforces the drive in us for purpose and meaning. By showing kindness, you also will increase your ability to show more kindness in the future. Serving someone else is also a great motivator for others to do the same. Doing these things make us happier people. Jesus’ words from the Apostle Paul are true, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35.
4. Practice prayer and mediation
I find my day goes better when I take the time to be spiritually grounded. Reading Scripture and praying daily connects me to God. It gives me assurance who is in control (hint: not me) and that God will work all things together for good, even with what I would call the bad things. It gives me the foundation to “take a breath” and step back knowing that God is ever present with me. It also gives me the courage to know that I can face whatever may come my way, because I don’t face it alone. None of us need to face struggles alone.
Meditation is next. I mediate on the Scriptures and think about how it could apply to my life. I’m meditating on what God is saying to my heart. But I also do a breath prayer, where I am still before God and just focus on my breathing for 10-20 minutes. I open my heart and mind and body to the Lord Jesus and just listen to him and enjoy his presence. It is a time where God shapes my thoughts and helps me to see the world more through his eyes. I encourage you, that if you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to do these things. It could help you will feel closer to the Lord and to feel better.
5. Talk to a friend
We are not designed to carry our troubles alone. We need each other. If you feel bad it’s a good idea to talk to someone who cares and loves you. That person will welcome you. It shows that you are their friend, and you have confidence to turn to them in your time of need. They will have a time of need themselves and you will be there for them. The Scriptures state: “A friend loves at all times…” Proverbs 17:17. When we feel bad, we need someone to share that with. Somehow it lessens the pain of the day to be able to talk about it with someone who cares.
“A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength.” (Proverbs 17:22, NCV). Yes, laughter lifts the soul and the body. It energized us. Find a reason for laughter and joy. It’s easy to take ourselves too seriously. Take a humor break. Think of things that are funny now but perhaps were not so humorous at the time. Watch a favorite episode of a comedy. Laughter releases a burst of feel-good hormones called endorphins. They stimulate your heart and lungs. It can even boost your immune system. When you’re happy, your body releases stress and illness-fighting neuropeptides. So, laugh away.
7. Get enough sleep
I cannot stress this last one enough. All the other things you do will be undone if you don’t regularly get enough sleep. The amount of sleep we need varies from person to person, so you need to know how much sleep you need a night to be at your best in the morning.
If you have two terrible nights of sleep, even that short amount can affect your memory, judgment, and reflexes. In the long term, sleep deprivation can cause weight gain (oops!), increase your risk of diabetes, raise your blood pressure and finally with all the previous, will make you irritable.
Sack time is about more than the amount of sleep it is also about the quality of sleep. You need hours of deep sleep or non-REM sleep. Non-REM Sleep is the kind of sleep that makes you feel refreshed in the morning. If you are waking up the next day and are still tired but you’ve slept enough hours, you may not be getting enough of what is called the deep, 3rd stage, non-REM sleep.
Many have found that not viewing electronic screens ½ hour to 45 minutes before going to bed calms the brain. Reading a devotional book or something that focuses your mind on good things is a good idea. Some have commented that that my sermons have an almost magical way of inducing sleep. I can get you a copy of a real snoozer. I think you get it. At bedtime, do what you can to make sure the room and bed are comfortable and cool and that your mind is calm.
When you are at your best, you can be the best for God, others, and yourself. Here’s to feeling better today and tomorrow.