How To Overcome A Bad Day At Work (With Examples)

By Heidi Cope
Aug. 4, 2022
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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We all have those occasional bad days at work, even if we love our jobs.

If you work a full-time job, you are spending a considerable number of your waking hours working, and eventually, something will come up that will make you leave work at the end of the day with one big “ugh.”

We’re here to show you how to overcome these bad days and go back in the next day with a smile, happy to be there.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you are having a bad time while still at work, get up and leave the situation to help clear your head and keep you from doing anything you may regret.

  • If you are over stressed about a big project, any little thing can lead you to having a bad day.

  • Separating your work from your home life can help relieve any bad day.

How to Overcome a Bad Day At Work With Examples

How to Get Over a Bad Day at Work

Sitting at your desk fuming about something a coworker said? Angry your project got dumped or that your boss doesn’t take your ideas into consideration? What if you flunked a presentation and feel like you are the company’s newest failure?

No matter the reason, you are most likely spending too much time ruminating on it, going back through the event in your mind over and over, and wishing your day had gone differently. Plus, you probably aren’t getting any work done at this point.

Here are some key things you can do to help keep your mind off your bad day at work:

  1. Leave the situation. Now that doesn’t mean you need to storm out of work, rev the engine of your car, and speed away to freedom. You don’t even need to leave work for the rest of the day to accomplish this.

    Leaving the situation can be as simple as shutting your office door or going to the bathroom and taking a breather away from everyone else.

  2. Breathe. When we say breathe, we mean from your stomach. Take a moment and pay attention to your breathing. Does your chest rise and fall, or does your belly go up and down? If it is the first, you are not breathing in a way that reduces stress. Take some time to breathe from the belly and visualize yourself somewhere happy.

  3. Go for a walk. Go for a short, brisk walk. Have you ever noticed that you feel less stressed after working out? That is because you are burning that adrenaline during exercise and releasing all the good-feel endorphins. Walking around your building during lunch or your next break is a great way to make that happen.

  4. Tune in to your happy place. Listen to music or a podcast. They’ll distract you from background noise at work and will help create a comfort zone around your space.

    That way, it’s just you, your work, and a good tune or two. Who needs frustrating people?

  5. Write it out — clear your mind. Open up a blank Word doc, and do a brain dump of your feelings. It’s venting, but without needing to step out to make the call.

    Type as fast as your mind and get it all on one document. Read it over, think about what really is happening and whether you can change anything about the solution, then delete the document.

    It is quite the cathartic approach to overcoming a bad day.

  6. Vent it out to a friend. If you really need that one on one vent, go to your car and call up a friend during your break. We’ve all needed this at some point.

    Get the frustration out so that it doesn’t hurt your job performance.

  7. Play a game. Play some video games, or do whatever else floats your boat. Video games take a lot of brain attention, so it is a great way to distract you from the situation.

    Just don’t do it on the clock — grab your phone and load your favorite game during a break.

  8. Do some fuzzy brain activities. Every job has those tasks that don’t require much effort or thought but need to get done nevertheless. If you’re having such a bad day that you can’t focus on anything major, make a to-do list of the simple stuff you can do.

    Even if it’s de-cluttering your email or cleaning up your computer, it’s still a useful task, and won’t stress you out as much as the duties that require more attention and care.

  9. Perform an act of kindness. In some cases, we can blame feeling blue on focusing entirely too much on ourselves and our problems. One great way to get out of your funk is to do something nice for a coworker.

    Bring in some extra donuts, compliment a coworker on their impressive work, etc. When you can make someone else smile, you’ll have a much easier time smiling yourself.

  10. Watch animal videos. We’ve yet to meet a person who isn’t at least slightly cheered up by watching cats and dogs being silly on the internet. This is by no means a long-term solution, but if you just need a kick of dopamine to get back into the swing of things, it’s worth a shot.

How to Prevent Bad Days at Work

If this bad day is just one out of the blue, then maybe you don’t have to think about ways to prevent future bad days, but reflection is always important.

If this bad day is one among many that seem to be more frequent than good days, you may want to spend some time seriously thinking about what makes your bad days so bad.

Is it because one coworker is just terrible? Is your boss overly demanding? Do you feel like a failure who’s always underperforming?

Take out a pen and some paper or open a new Word doc and brainstorm the cause of your bad days. You mind find some interesting conclusions.

  1. Is your own attitude to be blamed?

    If so, give yourself some perspective. Try to remember the reasons that you enjoy your work and gain outside perspsectives on whether your desires for the workplace are reasonable. If work itself destroys your good attitude, then it may be time to start looking for a new job.

  2. Is it a coworker or a boss?

    Try giving them the benefit of the doubt– maybe something is happening in their lives that is causing the work disturbance. Don’t be afraid to speak with them about ways to improve the work atmosphere. Maybe reaching out to them and showing some empathy would help more than you think.

  3. Is it your feelings of self-doubt and failure?

    Time to give yourself some self-empathy. Are you working hard? Are you giving an honest effort at the job but still feel like a failing employee? Talk with your friends, coworkers, or your boss about some feedback. You might not be doing poorly at all in their eyes. Try writing down the positives: what did you do right?

  4. Do you have to have a difficult conversation?

    When you have to have an uncomfortable, unpleasant, and tough conversation with a coworker or subordinate, it can put you in a funk. And if you’re already in a bad mood, you may not approach the topic as tactfully as you should.

    Try to reschedule if you can and explain that you’re not in the right headspace for this type of chat. If you have to power through, try to keep the conversation short — you can always revisit it later, on a better day.

  5. Do you have a big deadline due?

    Consider whether this is the sort of assignment that can reasonably be pushed back. If it’s not, you may have to ask for help (kindly, not in a demanding way; even if you’re in a bad mood, manners count).

    If you’re turning in sub-par work, consider explaining to your supervisor that you can improve upon it. Don’t stress too much though — one assignment is rarely the end of the world anyway.

  6. Did you receive an aggravating email?

    Most emails aren’t super urgent, so you should take time to breathe and digest the aggravating information before you quickly shoot off a response. You can write a mean draft (not in your email, though — that’s risky business) just to get your thoughts and emotions down together.

    Then, edit away the rough patches and leave the civil parts. If you’re worried your tone is still a bit peevish, you can get a friend to read it over for you first.

Final Thoughts

Now that you are at the end of our how to overcome a bad day at work guide, we hope you are feeling a bit better.

Just remember, a bad day at work is only one day.

Don’t let the hours at work dictate your happiness for the rest of the day and night. If you follow the steps detailed above, you will likely find some relief so you can go home feeling content.

It’s normal to feel angry, frustrated, unhappy, bored, or annoyed at work sometimes, but try not to make that a habit.

Reflect on your day and move on — you’ve got this.

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Articles In Life At Work Guide
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Heidi Cope

Heidi Cope is a former writer for the Zippia Career Advice blog. Her writing focused primarily on Zippia's suite of rankings and general career advice. After leaving Zippia, Heidi joined The Mighty as a writer and editor, among other positions. She received her BS from UNC Charlotte in German Studies.

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