Best of Both Worlds podcast: Dealing with stress and bad days

A few months ago, my Best of Both Worlds podcast co-host Sarah decided to go on a blogging streak. She posted on The SHU Box every day in September.

This was great fun to read! Of course, anyone who blogs knows that there are often certain days you just…generally don’t post. Life feels like it’s falling apart and you hate everyone and everything. Sarah — with the authenticity that makes her blog so wonderful — decided to keep going and post about how she was doing.

Wow, did she get a lot of comments. People even started emailing me about this topic! So we decided to do an episode on dealing with stress and bad days generally. We all have them — so what do we do about them?

Some can be anticipated. If there is a hormonal component to your moods, you can track this and plan for downtime and known mood boosters during the days when this will be most effective.

Certain habits can help. One reason I run every day is that it is the best known mood smoother I have ever encountered. Some research finds that exercise works about as well as medication for mild/moderate depression; people without the symptoms of depression might find their normal moods elevated with a daily dose. This has certainly been true for me, though as Sarah noted, “your mileage may vary.” (She ran on the bad day- it’s not foolproof!)

In any case, paying extra attention to getting enough sleep and eating an adequate quantity of nourishing foods is smart.

Sometimes progress can feel motivational. We talked about inventing projects (cleaning out the junk drawer!) to create a mood-boosting sense of accomplishment.

You can push things forward. Anything non-urgent that feels incredibly distasteful can be rescheduled to a time when you’ll be better able to deal with it.

Reaching out can help. Maybe you don’t actually hate *everyone* — a phone call with a friend can be good. Or write in a journal to process things. Schedule in something fun. Professional help can be a great idea too. Therapy can be life-changing. The targeted use of hormone or anti-depressant medications can be life-changing too.

And finally, sometimes bad moods and bad days can be helpful if they encourage us to look at our real feelings. I talk about our evening childcare as being the result of my getting tired of being ticked off. I spoke with far more certainty on the podcast about not doing upcoming renovations than is actually true (we may in fact do the attic – we’ve actually commissioned architectural plans) but I have decided that it will not get done before next fall. The baby will be old enough then to be out and about during the day and I can rent an office. People can just share bedrooms until then.

In the Q&A portion, we address a listener who feels she’s not as productive as the men in her office during certain days of her cycle. We note that a) this is probably not true and b) even if it was, she’s probably more productive during other days, so it all evens out. Nothing in our discussion of bad moods and bad days should be interpreted to mean that people don’t continue to do their jobs well (or shouldn’t be trusted with big decisions — one of those horrible ideas that’s still out there). As Sarah noted, she still provided excellent patient care on her bad day. She didn’t feel as cheerful about it, but it’s unlikely her patients would have even known that — because she’s self-aware enough to compensate.

Please give the episode a listen, and let us know how you deal with stress and bad days!

7 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Dealing with stress and bad days

  1. Interestingly I’ve found that I’m more or less completely able to compartmentalize my bad moods such that when I see patients I completely focus, and end up not even thinking about the mood or external things in the moment. It happens unconsciously and completely effortlessly. It’s a pleasant side effect of the job!

    1. @Omdg – there is something to be said for a job that gets people out of their own heads! On the completely opposite end of the labor scale, I had this experience working at the counter in a fast food restaurant for a while. The rush would start at 11:30 for lunch and I’d look up at 1:30 not remembering a single thought I’d had in the interim…

    2. Agree with this completely. Work is a really good way to get out of your own head, especially when you are dealing with other people. My mother always tried to get me to clean the house when I was in a funk, and I stayed grumpy to spite her, but sometimes physical labor also does work out some of the “I hate everyone and everything” energy…especially if I put on some appropriate music.

  2. Thank you for this episode. So important to acknowledge that even if your life is objectively great, some days just suck. Sometimes for no reason.

    I will add to the voices saying there’s nothing wrong with getting some pharmaceutical help when you need it. My bad moods tend to go down hill really fast and end with me being angry and snappy at everyone (kids included), ugly crying at work (in my private office) and generally making things worse. So if I can catch it before the storm hits, I take ativan. It’s doctor prescribed and approved and not a strategy for someone having a lot of bad days, but for my 1-2 a month it’s been a huge help.

  3. I am really close with my team at work so if I am having a bad day, I just say I am having an off day and they will understand if I’m a little more cranky about things or have a shorter fuse. They also have their bad days so it feels like something we all go through. But not everyone has that kind of work environment!

    As someone in the midst of moving with only one child, I think you are wise to modify your house v trying to find something that will work for your growing family. Moving is SO MUCH WORK, especially with a young child in tow. I told my husband that I’m committed to living in the next house until we retire. I know that dealing with contractors is a total pain in the butt, but I think in the long run, it’s better than moving? Buying/selling houses is just so expensive – especially on the selling end if you have a house with a high market value. When I worked in mortgages, we assumed that people would net 90% of their purchase price when calculating whether they had enough equity. 10% is fine for a $300k house but when you get up to $500k, that is a lot. 10% is probably an over estimate of the cost to sell, but I’d say at least 7%, so if your house is a $500k house, that’s at least $35k. So instead of paying all of that money in contract costs, I think you are better off putting that $35k towards remodeling expenses!! (we opted to move instead of remodeling/building onto our small house as we knew our current home 1400 sq ft home wasn’t the right kind of house to add onto/renovated). Granted, some day we will have to sell our house and pay for those selling costs! 😛

    1. @Lisa- oh, I know the transaction costs are huge. Also, any house we bought would likely need some work too, so the choice isn’t either pay to move or pay for contractors. It’s just pay for contractors or pay for both! In looking at a lot of houses over the past few weeks I’ve been reminded of how much I like about our current house, especially since we’ve done a lot of work on it over the past 8 years to match our tastes.

  4. I can relate so much to Sarah on this topic. I never experienced PMS when I was in my teens & 20’s but now in my 30’s after having 2 boys it’s another story! I didn’t have my period since 2016 due to pregnancy & BF both kids (they are 17 mo apart). I got my first period this August and it was horrible! I had mild depression. With my second baby, I got the baby blues and they lasted 2 months. Having my period again reminded me of that time. I also would start having the depression symptoms 2 weeks before my period & on the week of my period so 3/4 weeks I was feeling awful. I called my doctor last month and got on BC again. It took a month to feel more in control and now I’m so glad I did that. BC makes me a bit nauseous but I rather feel that than feeling depressed & unmotivated. Thank you for sharing!

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