The moment my alarm went off at 5:45 am, I knew something was not quite right.
While I’m not naturally a morning person, my drive to succeed usually makes up for my instinct to stay in bed until noon. For the past 15 years, I’m typically up early, working out, having breakfast, reading, and generally easing into the day. Then, I’m running a web development company, a team of 7 creatives, while promoting a wide swath of Rockland County-based events.
But the day prior, I really pushed myself. I did a 12-mile bicycling routine, went to a morning networking meeting, worked my usual 10 hours, and on top of that – during my workday I squeezed in 2 hours of chest exercises on my trusty Bowflex Xtreme.
Now, as the morning light came through the window – I realized I was going to pay the price.
What’s worse, I had a merciless morning schedule. I needed to be at my usual Thursday networking meeting, and then a very important meeting with the Director of a renowned charitable organization. To make matters worse, I couldn’t find my laptop power cord. And my travel coffee mug was missing. WTF!!!
After getting ready to leave, I stopped at a gas station and realized I forgot my wallet. When I made it back to my house, the glare from the sunlight was so bas that I didn’t see the car driving toward me. Thank God we both stopped short of an accident.
Eventually, I was still able to make it to my networking meeting (late). I know this group for nearly 15 years, and they were very understanding. Further, I made it to my meeting with the charitable organization with 15 minutes to spare. The meeting went well, and I headed back to the home office.
By the time I returned, I knew I needed a reset. Several hours later, I feel better.
If you ever have days like this: I have a set of steps I take to get myself back on track, and I’d like to share them with you. These are not rocket science steps, and they are different for everyone, so of course feel free to add your own steps.
5 Steps to Recovering from a Bad Day
- Recognize you are not feeling well right now
- Postpone or cancel appointments
- Have a stress management routine
- Slow down and focus on right now
- Think about how tomorrow will be better
Recognize you are not feeling well right now
I have two beaded wooden bracelets, one brown, one black. When I am feeling at peak performance levels, I have the wooden one on one specific wrist, and the black one on the other. When I’m in a less-than perfect mood, I switch them.
This is merely a symbolic reminder for me, that sometimes the day is not going to be rosy. It also reminds me that from the perspective of other people, the bracelets are reversed. What we see is not always what others see.
Come up with a small physical, personal reminder to wear, to remind you about how you are feeling, so that you can stay down to earth and grounded for the things you may need to do on that day.
Remember that sometimes, you can’t be saving the world. The world simply needs to wait for you, and be there tomorrow to take another shot at being awesome. Just not today.
Clear Your Calendar
I remember several movies where the boss would page his or her receptionist, and say something like “Gladys…clear my schedule.”
Oh, wouldn’t that just be a lovely thing to do?
This is a difficult step, because we have many pressures imposed upon us from many different people, organizations, clients, colleagues, family members, friends and more. But as best as possible, postpone or cancel appointments. Open your calendar and figure out what you can push off to tomorrow. If necessary, call appointment attendees and let them know that you won’t be able to make the appointment. You usually don’t need to go into too much detail. Remember, they are busy, too! They may even appreciate it.
Have a stress management routine
The moment I knew that I was going to have a bad productivity day, I planned to do three things: Eat, rest and listen to music.
All three of these items help. Notably – since I had been working out hard the day before, I figured that my blood sugar was running low. So I made it a point to grab a few protein bars on the way to the morning meeting, and then have a full breakfast when I got to the event.
On the way, I also decided to skip my usual routine of listening to hard rock music, in favor of a meditative type of band called Cosmal. It was certainly helpful. They have a fantastic repetitive track called “Is“. I highly recommend it.
Finally, after I returned from my morning meetings, I decided to take a 20 minute power nap. I can’t overemphasize how helpful this was. For me, it’s the ultimate reset button for getting the day back on track.
If you work in an office, this may be a little more difficult, but it is still doable. As silly as it sounds, you can indeed sleep on the floor underneath your desk. As a last resort, you could even use a closet, empty room or a hallway (lay down plastic if you can!). It’s unorthodox to say the least, but my point is you can get creative with methods to getting in a power nap. Consider them!
One word of advice – keep the nap short. I recommend 20 to 30 minutes maximum. Your goal is to simply get a tiny, tiny bit of REM sleep. Here’s an article for this method.
Slow down and focus on right now
After waking up from the nap, I took it a little slower, eventually getting back to the desk and doing some light work. As mentioned above, since the calendar got somewhat cleared, it was easier to take this time.
It was also good to reflect on how we can often get some semblance of control back in our day to day lives, if we take the steps to embrace the moment, and recognize that the moment is ours.
Think about how tomorrow will be better
As I mentioned above, everyone is different in their productivity, their emotions, their mental and physical acuity, as well as how often they are as such.
For me, I luckily seem to bounce back pretty strongly the very next day after feeling malaise. But for some, the gloom may last longer. If you are experiencing long bouts of difficulty, of course I recommend seeking help from others to get you back on track. But if, based on history you seem to bounce back after a day or two – focus on that. The mere thought of this will help you to feel confident that the important elements of your life will likely stay on course, and continue to move your forward.
Back on Track
We all have rough days. As Steve Eckert from Peak Physique states, “We all get knocked down, but we become more powerful when we get back up.”
Today may be a “down day” for you. It might be an absolute train wreck. But know that with the right perspective on it, you can turn it back toward a day that will set you up for future successes — if you take the time to care for the most important part of the day: you.
Oh, I found my travel mug, and Amazon just delivered a new power cord.