How to Turn Around a Bad Day at Work

Does it ever happens that you just wake in a really bad mood when something (or even nothing) has made you angry, sad, frustrated and disappointed? Well,bad days happen to all. Yet, you still must freshen up and go to work, but you’re already seething. You try to work, but somehow every angry or dissatisfied client conspired to complain to you on the same day. Everyone sounds incredibly stupid and is out to annoy you. Luckily, here is what to do.


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    Accept your bad mood. Being in a bad mood is not that bad! Trying to force yourself to cheer up is much, much worse. Fighting bad moods only prolongs them, so if you’re mad or sad, be mad or sad. This does not allow rudeness and unpleasantness to innocents, it just means you need to recognize and accept your mood in order to be able to do something about it.
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    Tell others. Others will notice if you try keeping your bad mood secret with a happy mask and will wonder if they ticked you off. Tell them you are not having a good day. Simply say, "Listen, I’m in a really sour mood today. I’m not sure why, but it’s nothing you've done. If I do bite your head off, I'm apologizing in advance."
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    Look inside first. Successful people aren't always the smartest, but have acquired emotional skills, and rely on being able to recognize and to deal with one's own emotions. We tend to think that a bad mood is always caused by something or someone else (like trying to deal with a difficult boss). Bad moods aren't always connected to obvious, external factors. Perhaps you just slept poorly, are getting the flu, or are just having a bad day. Don't try to justify a bad mood. Instead, try to look inside yourself first, in order to ascertain possible precursors to your emotional state.
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    Remember the good stuff. When you’re in a foul mood, everything is bad. But the good things you appreciated yesterday, when you weren't as annoyed, should be there - you just forgot them. Spend time considering at least one or two things that aren't all bad (something you look forward to, a person you like, something nice that happened recently) and be thankful for that.
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    Let it pass.. You’ve been in a bad mood before. It passed, so will this. It’s no big deal. If you can't shake the mood, simply wait it out.
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    Take some quiet time. To avoid doing or saying something you might regret, withdraw a little if you can. Walk during your lunch break, sit and work someplace quiet. Take a long bathroom break. Consider going home early, or taking the day off.
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    Start your day over. Why wait until tomorrow to start your day over. Do it now. Leave your desk, or where ever - leave - decide to start over, as if you slept. Return to work with a fresh attitude. This really works, more so with practice.
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    Leverage Your Next Good Mood. Once the bad mood wear off, and you feel better, figure out what helped: was it a thought? a song? a friend? an event? When the next "red zone" comes, you will have developed an array of techniques to pull yourself out.


  • Make sure that you are not living on sugar/candy bars. Quickly roller-coastering blood sugar levels can be unpleasant.
  • Get physical! Go to the bathroom and jump up and down, breathe very deeply, take a quick walk at lunch or to the gym. Get that workout. Kick-starting endorphins is a natural way to better moods.
  • Just smile. You may not feel like it, but just forcing yourself to smile may send signals to your brain that things aren't so bad. You may be surprised to feel your mood lighten a bit, in as little as 10 minutes or less!
  • SMILE for 10 seconds and think of something that really makes you smile to get your mind of the problems.
  • Find a great song, and let it take your mind off of your present state.
  • Make your home and family your safe zone and priority. Your career shouldn't define you as a person--figure out what does and you'll be a step ahead!
  • Watch taking work home with you, literally or mentally. Give yourself a fighting chance by taking care of yourself and drawing boundaries between work and personal time.
  • Sometimes, you have to "fake it 'til you make it." Saying, "This is a terrific day" sometimes helps, at least see the possibility that it could. Think positive thoughts!
  • There are some who, whether they admit it or realize it, enjoy being unhappy, and resist efforts to be cheered. If this is so, there is not much that can be done, until you admit it to yourself.
  • As a preventative measure, do something so that a day starts well. Get a coffee, or some juice, and sit with a friend for 15 minutes. Or, start the day with a nice walk or any physical workout. A good start may help you to glide more easily over any bumps to come.
  • Laughter is priceless. Find a funny video, e-mail five friends, asking for their best joke, watch little kids play and laugh!
  • Debrief but don't wallow. Rehashing the negative day is destructive but replaying how you got through is empowering - keep it positive.
  • If you have one bad day after another, you may need to do something more. Your job might be bringing you down; you may be suffering from stress. You may even be dealing with depression. If you think this may be happening, do something, talk to someone.


  • Don't make huge decisions when you're in a bad mood - financial, emotional, etc. Let the negative state pass, before you choose poorly.
  • This is not the day to "finally" let someone know what you think about him/her. This is time to write those things down, to get them out, but not to act on them, until your mood brightens.
  • Bad mood days are like downward spirals. Resolve within yourself that tomorrow will be better, and do what it takes to make it so.
  • Avoid blaming others for what you may be guilty of. If a loud phone conversation annoys you, consider your own conversations before saying something.
  • Never quit until you have another job (preferably a better one!). It's tempting to say, "Take this job..." but if you're struggling this much, take it as a hint to start broadening your horizons. The job world is like dating--people already involved are more appealing. Use this to propel yourself to success.
  • If you do quit, leave on good terms--burning bridges limits your options. "Living well is the best revenge." Leaving with class costs nothing and may pay off with good references and an open door if your new enterprise sours.
  • If there seems to be a long string of bad days at work, and depression is a part of your life, check to make sure that medications are still working properly.

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