A recent Harvard Business Review article outlined the perils of a bad day. Beyond the obvious bad mood syndrome one is forced to endure when a bad day takes its toll, office workers also lose productivity, are less likely to get promoted, and suffer the health consequences of leading an overly stressful life. In fact, studies show that when employees are positive they are 31% more productive, 40% more likely to get promoted, and have 23% fewer health-related effects from stress.
Don't panic. No matter how bad a day is, you can always turn it around. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, reminds us that "happiness is a choice." In order to make happiness an easier choice, do the following:
- Take a single concrete action, like picking a healthy snack as opposed to junk food, that your brain can hold onto as a victory. Achor advises taking two minutes to send an email praising or thanking someone else. Your brain will record this as a victory and you'll actually feel like you've gained time.
- Get a change of scenery. Stand up from your desk and take a walk. Or have a conversation with someone not through email. The key, says Annie McKee, founder of the Teleo Leaderhsip Instititute and co-author of Primal Leadership, is to put yourself in a different physical location. "If you're heading for or already in an amygdala hijack, you have to do something to get control of your frontal lobe and breathing does that physiologically."
- Readjust your expectations. Achor says that a lot of bad days start because you set unrealistic expectations. Make a list of three things that you can definitely tackle today and then feel satisfied when you do. Don't try to cram in all of the dozens of things you think you have to do.
- Practice gratitude. When you're feeling overwhelmed by a bad day, think of three things that you are grateful for. Write them down and keep a little note by your computer so you can glance at those things as often as needed.
- Learn from the past. The next time you have a bad day, make a note of what went wrong. This is the best way to learn what your triggers are and how to cope with them in the future.
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How do you shake off a bad day? Share with us in the comments.