We all have days when life seems a little more challenging than usual. Unfortunately, communication with others often breaks down when we're struggling. As a result we frequently end up feeling even worse!
No one can dictate what the day will bring, however you can learn to manage an 'off' day or mood. You might like to consider some of the following strategies:
If possible, agree on a plan of attack for ‘off’ days prior:
Don’t wait until you’re struggling to try and work things out – talk with your partner or loved one in advance and agree on how you will identify and manage a bad day together. How will you both know? What are the signs? What word or phrase could you use to communicate where you’re at? This could also translate to a working environment if your manager or colleagues are aware that you may struggle from time to time.
Be clear & direct:
Assuming that other people can read our minds often leads to hurt feelings, resentment, blame, miscommunication & arguments – not what we need on an already bad day! Instead of dropping hints and hoping for the best, ask for what you need. For example, if you need a hug you might say ‘I’ve had a bad day. I need a hug from you.’ If you can’t give someone your full attention you might say ‘I’m really tired. This is important though and I want to give you my full attention. Can we talk about it tomorrow instead?’
Use ‘I’ statements:
Wherever possible, when articulating your needs begin with ‘I need….’, rather than ‘You need to…’. Using ‘I’ statements is a very gentle way of asking for what you need without implying blame. So, you might say ‘I really need some quiet time at the moment. I’m just going to sit out in the garden for a while’, rather than ‘You need to give me some space’.
Agree to avoid ‘hot’ topics:
Topics that are likely to cause World War 3 are best avoided when we’re not at our best – again, take time before a ‘bad’ day to agree on what you might steer clear of with another person. If this isn’t possible, think about how best to remove yourself from the battlefield, or ask to revisit the conversation at a later date.
Take the seriousness out of it:
Applying humour to an otherwise difficult or uncomfortable situation can help to change the way we and others experience it. If you can laugh about elements of a ‘bad’ day, even in retrospect, it often helps to improve understanding and openness, whilst normalizing our experience.
Take time to think:
If we’re having a bad day, it’s likely that our self esteem is also suffering. Although it can be difficult to bite our tongue sometimes, lashing out often adds to negative feelings we may have about ourselves at the time. Feeling bad is bad enough without guilt!
Written by: Kate Henderson @ The Panic Room SA