Ever have one of those days? You know exactly what I mean. One of those days where it seems from the moment you wake up until the moment you finally lay your head back down at night where it seems as if the proverbial Mr. Murphy has touched everything you decide to do just to give you some unexpected challenges.
One of those days where everything you try to do, no matter the amount of planning, preparation, and calculation you put into it seems to turn into a huge, growing flaming pile of donkey doo-doo.
One of those days where you just can’t seem to shake the funk that no matter what you do it is the wrong thing, turns out badly, or worse yet that you maybe even hurt someone that you love due to lashing out verbally due to frustration.
When it all seems to be flowing downhill what are we to do? What can we do to try to turn our day around? Seemingly worse yet, if we seem as if we are unable to turn it around how can we get through the day to try again tomorrow for sometimes that is the best we can do. Whether we are healthy or ill, rich or poor, well educated or not, these types of days will eventually touch us all to one degree or another.
If you are chronically ill which puts your body under physical stress, you will likely notice some level of emotional stress. You will also probably take note that when you are having a rough day, be it physical or emotional, that it seems to make everything worse. Your patience, your ability to communicate, your physical pain if you deal with chronic pain or a pain evoking illness, all seem to flare worse when we are having a bad day.
So what are we to do? Well, let me share with you how I got through this past weekend, despite it seeming as if literally everything I touched or tried to do ended horribly or disastrously. As with anything in life and especially when it comes to health, your results may vary from mine, but hopefully you can find a tip or trick to help you get through the horrible days when they do occur, as they inevitably do even for the happiest and most cheerful people I know.
Maybe you are only mildly frustrated, or maybe you are at what you feel is your breaking point where you just want to crawl back in bed and cry yourself to sleep in order to wake up and try starting the day over again. While this certainly could be an option, it is not the only option available to you.
If you, like me, happen to enjoy music try taking a break, put the earbuds or headphones on, lean back in your favorite chair and listen to some of your favorite music that helps you relax. There are days where I will physically set a timer on my phone or the little digital kitchen timer I keep on my desk, and ‘zone out’ with my music for 10 or 15 minutes just to give my brain a break from whatever is stressing it.
The ability to disconnect and give both your body and brain a chance to reboot can seem like a lifesaver on a horrible day, but I often do this even on otherwise good days. It gives me a few minutes to clear my head, focus on nothing but enjoying whatever I am listening to, and totally center myself in just feeling good. This not only helps your mood and your psyche but can also provide a bit of relief from your physical pain as well.
What’s that? You don’t really enjoy listening to music? That’s perfectly fine. There are days where I may take a break from life, work, household responsibilities and the like to read. Again, I will more often than not set a timer so that I don’t let myself fall down the proverbial rabbit hole and lose track of time entirely which can create another whole set of issues if you have work/family obligations you must tend to.
My point is relatively simple. Find something you enjoy. Something that you notice relaxes you or enables you to clear your mind of the everyday stress of whatever you may be going through at that particular moment. Maybe for you, it is doing crossword puzzles, an actual puzzle, taking a walk, or exercising, or even a brain stimulating app like Lumosity, or even a combination of a walk while listening to your favorite music. Maybe it is a mindless game of solitaire, mahjong, or whatever you like.
No matter what you find that works for you it is important to take the time to permit yourself to clear your mind and refocus your energies in a positive way. Some people find meditation helpful. I don’t necessarily mean the chanting type of meditation often depicted in TV and the movies, but if that’s what works for you, then great. There are many, many ways through meditation where you can refocus your energy on being ‘in your body’ and allowing the negative things to seem to just wash away, or roll off of your body.
Some other people like to pray. As with anything mentioned here, it depends on what you as an individual enjoy, believe, and feel will work for you in order to clear your mind and refocus your efforts on the positive so that you can continue on your day. There is no right answer to how we deal with physical or emotional stress.
Sure, it may seem as if I am oversimplifying things, but believe me when I tell you that while it may sound unbelievable, we can survive the toughest of days regardless of what may be happening around, to, or even inside ourselves. The choice we have is how we choose to deal with the things that may be happening.
I was lucky enough to vent to someone with whom I am very close and while she wasn’t able to fix anything that I was going through, I never expected her to be able to. Keep your expectations reasonable lest you set yourself up for failure by expecting too much. Sometimes venting or writing in a journal is also a helpful tool. Again, I say whatever works for you in order for you to get through the rough part of your day, week, month, year.
This has been a very rough week or two for me. I experienced a loss of a family member and was unable to arrange for transportation out of town to attend the funeral. I felt like a failure because while they were there for me when my parents and more recently my brother passed away, I was unable to be there for them when they lost their mother. I still feel guilty though there was no way for me to even potentially get there, let alone the fact that physically I don’t know if I could have stood, walked, or sat that long. I had beat myself up over this quite a bit.
To reframe that in my own mind I had to look at it differently. For the sake of discussion let’s say I had been able to get there to attend the viewing, funeral, and Catholic mass. How would I feel if my legs had gone numb and I were unable to get up, or worse yet fell from a standing position? What good would I be doing by supposedly being there to support them when I would then be requiring them to take time from their own grief to assist me?
While it isn’t ideal, it did help me to somewhat cope with the guilt of not being able to be there, for it is not unreasonable to think that this could have happened. I regularly experience this at home, but that’s no big deal because I’m not affecting anybody when it happens and I am home alone and nobody else is aware of it. Well, at least that’s how my mind perceives it, or how I tell my mind to perceive it. I’m no psychologist so maybe it’s a little bit of both.
The other morning I awoke, made coffee, and sat down at my desk to work. The project I had gotten from my client was extremely difficult and nearly impossible to decipher. I decided to work on it a bit and see if I could figure out how to complete the project as well as I could. Not too long after that, I had gone into the bedroom for something to notice that the floor and thus the carpet was sopping wet on the side of the room by the windows.
What now, I thought to myself. Turns out the air conditioner’s exterior drain hole had clogged, forcing the condensation inside the unit to build up to the point where it backed up into the house, ran down the wall, and onto the floor with the carpeting acting like a huge sponge. There is a huge radiator in front of that window so we never noticed it.
I got help from someone to get the air conditioner out of the window and then downstairs and outside. I took it apart, found the clogged drainage channel, cleaned it and the entire unit inside and out. One drainage channel was totally blocked for some reason, so to ensure proper drainage and prevent the recurrence of the problem I decided to carefully drill a new drain hole on the other corner of the unit so that water could not build up inside it again.
Apparently either I wasn’t careful enough or Mr. Murphy tapped my arm as I was drilling because I nicked one of the coils. I’ve done this exact same thing dozens of times over the last three decades or so and have never, I repeat never, made this mistake in the past. Well, that air conditioner is now garbage. So at 8:30 on a Sunday night when most everything is closed I had to go out and buy a new air conditioner. I was both physically and emotionally drained from the past few weeks as well as the physical stress on my body to work on the unit as there are many times where standing or walking are nearly impossible by themselves.
After I acquired a new air conditioner, got home, installed it, and sat down to tend to some more business matters it hit me. Sure, I just used the money I had set aside for my prescriptions for an air conditioner. Sure, I shouldn’t have made the error in damaging the much, much larger and more efficient and effective unit. Sure, now I was hours behind schedule on work stuff and sure I now hurt like heck.
However, I was looking at it all wrong! It might be tight, but I should be able to hang in with my current meds I have on hand until I get my next invoice paid by my client. I hate to run that tight, but I can do it if I am careful and it gets here on time. I should be looking at it in the aspect of sure I made a mistake but I was fortunate enough to have the cash on hand to immediately go replace the air conditioner.
No, it wasn’t even close in size, or cooling capacity of the original one, but we will make it work. There are plenty of elderly or poor individuals and families that can’t afford an air conditioner and even if they could they may be on fixed incomes to the extent that money is so tight they may not be able to afford the cost of electricity to run it when it’s 90 plus degrees outside as it has been recently. There have been days where the real feel temperature was well over 100.
Once I put things into perspective it greatly reduced the amount of stress I was putting myself under with both the air conditioner and the cumulative stress of the seemingly endless string of stressful events thus far this month. Sometimes it truly does come down to how you look at things that may be going on in your life.
Does putting things in a different perspective actually change anything? I will tell you that it does. Sure, like any of the methods I mentioned above, nothing is foolproof. There may be a day or even weeks of what seems like one string of ‘bad luck’ after another. At some point, we must take ownership of the things that we actually can change in order to try to break the cycle.
By putting the air conditioner situation into a different perspective I gave myself the ability to own that while yes I made a mistake, I was also the very one who fixed it so that nobody else had to suffer for my mistake. There was a great deal of comfort in that and knowing that while I am fallible and human, I also will do the best I can to own a mistake and make it right.
Cut yourself a little slack once in a while. We are all entitled to have bad days, but when you do, do your very best to take control. I don’t mean take control of whatever is happening to you for sometimes there are things beyond our control. I mean take control of how you let yourself respond to it. Take a step back, breath, acknowledge that yes you have a right to be upset about the situation, but resolve to make the best of it.
If it is something that just feels overwhelming and you can’t seem to find a positive slant or perspective to it then I suggest my last resort technique. We can all manage to endure anything for a short period of time. Break it down as far as you have to to get through it.
Maybe you decide to chalk July up to just being a rough month, but August will be better. Maybe you say to yourself that this past week was horrible, but next week will be better. Heck, I don’t care if you have to break it so far down that you do it by the day, hour, or even minute. Most anyone can endure something for a few seconds, or a minute. Will it be easy? Nothing is easy when you are feeling overwhelmed. Nothing.
But with consistent practice and putting whatever methods you find that work for you into practice, you will most likely find that you too can make it through. If making it through the day seems insurmountable, try for focusing on making it through the next hour. Don’t even permit yourself to think about the hour after that, focus solely on the hour you are in now. Then when you made it through, give yourself the credit you deserve for making it through and resolve to make it through another hour.
While you may feel alone remember that you are not. No matter how isolated you may feel, there are others going through their own personal hell, and they too are making it through one second at a time if that’s what it takes. It is when we help each other that we can all grow and become stronger. That’s one of the whole concepts of me sharing these long-winded posts in order to share and show you, the reader, that you are not alone.
How does this relate to healthcare you might ask. I will admit that I’ve used the one second at a time approach during extremely uncomfortable invasive medical procedures that would make the toughest person cry. I thought to myself I will get through this second, then I will get through the next. Then miraculously it was hours later and things were over. Sure, I hurt incredibly, but I made it through and did it in a manner in which they were able to acquire the diagnostic data they needed.
While nobody but you will know what will work for you, I urge you to keep trying to find a variety of things that will work for you so even if one thing does not work on a particular day, you have other tools at your disposal to get through your rough day.
Lastly, I feel obligated to point out that while some people report being able to zone out and relax while scrolling any number of the social media platforms available today, that processing that amount of information can add stress for even a well-balanced person having a good day. Taking a break from social media to de-stress is becoming more and more common as we get inundated with countless headlines, posts, ads, status updates and the like. Processing all of that can be stressful, especially if you are already under stress.
I’ve often mentioned the importance of self-care and I believe having coping mechanisms and strategies is an essential form of self-care. Realize that you have the right to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, don’t beat yourself up for it, and use the strategies and tools that work for you. Above all, cut yourself a bit of slack, especially on the rough days for in the end, we are all only human.
Do you have a trick that works for you when you’re stressed? How do you cope with physical or emotional stress? What gets you through one of “those” days? Share with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear what works for you!