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!