Any time I read advice on the theme of ‘what to do when you’re having a bad day’, it’s always the same old thing:

 Take a bubble bath!

  Go for a long walk!

  Do yoga!

Now, I’m not knocking any of these things: they obviously work for some people, and that’s great. But I’m not a “bubble bath” kinda girl: they’re always either too hot or too cold, and as soon as I get the water to the right temperature, I start to fall asleep – which would be great, but not so much when I have to wake myself up in order to clean the bath once I’m done with it. (And yeah, I have to clean the bath as soon as I’m out of it: it’s just how I am…) Long walks? All well and good if it’s a perfect, spring day, the ground isn’t sopping wet, and the birds are chirping merrily in the trees. When it’s the middle of November, though, and I can’t even set foot out the door without being blown off my feet, a long walk would be more of an endurance test than a relaxing experience, so, yeah, mind if I don’t?

As for yoga: don’t even get me started on yoga. Seriously, all yoga does is bore me to tears and give me plenty of time to worry about whatever it is that’s making me have a bad day in the first place. So THAT’S out, too.

So, now that I’ve rejected all of the excellent advice on what to do when you’re having a bad day, what DO I do when I’m having a bad day? Well, mostly I complain a lot, so there’s that. (And actually, I WAS joking when I wrote that, but sometimes it feels good to get it off your chest, you know? More on that later, though…) Then I do one or all of the following five things: they might not crop up in a lot of magazine advice posts, but they sure do help…

what to do when you're having a bad day

First, clean your house. To music, preferably.

I’m really in no position to be giving anyone important life advice, but if I WAS going to do that, my first tip for pretty much EVERYTHING would be to first clean your house. Obviously this will only work if you’re exactly the same kind of person as me, by which I mean, “The kind of person who can’t get to sleep at night if she knows the bath is still full of soapy suds and a tidemark from that ‘relaxing’ bubble bath she had earlier…”

I know I’ve said it before, but I just can’t relax or concentrate in a mess, so if I’m feeling a bit low, the first thing I’ll do is blitz the house: not only does it make me feel better to have a nice, clean environment to relax in afterwards, I also find cleaning itself quite therapeutic – I particularly enjoy cleaning to music, so I’ll stick in my earphones, turn up the volume and pretend I’m Taylor Swift, only with a steam cleaner rather than a microphone. Works for me. Maybe not so much for Terry, who has to listen to my off-key singing, mind you, but sometimes you just gotta shake it off, you know?

So, your house is sparkling: now it’s time for that bubble bath, right? Or maybe a spot of yoga? Noooo! Next you’re going to pretend you’re 8 years old again, and…

Re-read the books you loved as a child

“Er, children’s books, Amber? You can’t just read grown-up books? Like a proper adult?” Don’t lie, I know you were thinking it. So, for one thing, I am not a real adult, and you know it. For another thing, well, yes, I DO read books for grown-ups too, obviously. It’s my favourite thing in the world, actually. Just… not when I’m feeling sad, or anxious, or am having an attack of the mean reds. Because the thing about books is, you just don’t know what you’re going to get, do you? That book you’re planning to sink into and escape the world for a few hours with might totally suck. Or it might really upset you: like, a puppy might die in it, or something, and then you’ll just feel even WORSE than when you started.

I remember when Terry was ill, I went through this stage where almost every book I tried to read would have a dead husband in it. Every single one. Even if the book was called “Cute Pictures of Fluffy Kittens”, I could guarantee that one of the kittens would have a boyfriend who got kidney failure and died. I’m honestly not joking about this.

(OK, I’m joking about the fluffy kittens. The rest is true, though.)

what to do when you're having a bad day

Reading is still my solace, though, and the best thing I can do to make myself feel better, so the solution I came up with during those tough times was to go back to the books I loved as a child and re-read them. Not all the time, obviously – or even most of the time. But when I felt really crappy, I’d reach for one of those old adventure stories or boarding school tales, and it would always help to take my mind off things. There’s a lot of comfort in nostalgia, and a well-loved childhood book will take you back to easier, happier times, when all you had to worry about was whether your mum would make you put the light out before you got to the end of that chapter, and how Timmy the dog was going to get out of that well. (And how DID he, I ask you?) (No, I’m really asking you: how does a dog get out of a well with only a frayed old rope to help him? HOW?)

Try it: it will work, I promise you. And if it doesn’t, I will just deny suggesting it.

Read home interiors catalogues

If you’re not up for a quick re-read of ‘Five Go to Smugglers Top‘ (And honestly, you should be: there’s a man with a head shaped like a block of wood in it. And his name is ‘Block’. I mean, what are the odds?!), may I suggest a quick flick through the Ikea catalogue instead? Or the Dwell catalogue, if you’re feeling REALLY fancy? It might just be me (and it probably is), but I find it really comforting to look at photos of beautiful homes, filled with lovely furniture, and lots of wonderful, totally artificial light, which has been made to look like sunlight streaming through the window on a summer morning. I don’t actually buy anything from these catalogues because Terry would kill me, but I like flicking through them and imagining I’m inside those beautiful rooms. It calms me down for some reason, and it also gives me ideas for very expensive things I’d like to do to my home, so hey: win win!

Dwell catalogue

Tell me that green arrow lamp doesn’t make you feel like anything is possible in life? It’s £179, but what price happiness, I ask you?

Play computer games

I don’t do this nearly as often as I used to, but if I’m feeling down, nothing picks me up quite like a quick game of Tetris or The Sims. And by that, I mean, “a very long game”, because everyone knows there’s no such thing as a “quick game” of Tetris, is there? It might sound odd, but I think this is the closest I get to meditation (don’t laugh): playing Tetris occupies just enough of my brain to empty it out and de-stress it, but it leaves just enough room for me to mull over whatever it is I really want to think about or work out.

Write it out

As I said, no one likes a complainer, but sometimes you just need to let it all out: which is why I like to indulge in a spot of what I think of as “emotional typing” from time to time. It’s exactly what it sounds like: you open up a blank document, then you type (or write, if you prefer the pen and paper approach…) out your emotions: and God, it feels good. This is why I never really believe people who say they blog “for themselves”: the kind of writing I REALLY do “for myself” isn’t REMOTELY the kind of thing I’d ever want anyone to read. I mean, heaven forbid. But writing down all of those angry/sad/whatever emotions really helps me clear my mind, and make sense of whatever it is I’m feeling: just make sure you don’t accidentally hit “publish”…

What do you do when you’re having a bad day?

27 Comments
  1. I have been ordered to play Tetris or Bejewelled or the likes by my doctor for exactly the reason you stated (since I can’t do any active sports at the moment) and I find it really works.

  2. Just don’t play Candy Crush if you want to de-stress. That game makes me very angry when I get stuck!

    I find that creating a to-do list clears my mind – I usually find that having too many things to do, and not knowing if I’m coming or going makes me crazy so being able to plan some stuff soothes me. Even if i’m never going to do the stuff! Just having a plan is the key!

    I also like to text a friend and organise to meet up at some point. I always feel like I never have enough time for my friends so making sure I get some gossip time in makes me feel better too.

    As you can see, planning things is a major de-stress area for me haha.

  3. When I have to de-stress, I like watching TV shows or read books. I don’t care if they have some super depressing parts and some super nerve-wracking, it still helps me wind down. Forgetting your troubles and running away from them isn’t going to help you work it out, but I find that if you leave them behind for awhile and completely forget about them, once you come back your head will be clearer and you’ll find a solution in no time/realize it wasn’t that big of a deal. Alternatively, when I know I’m stressing about vapid things (say, I did something a bit silly and I fear people will make fun of me), I just think about it a lot until it loses meaning. That works wonders as well.
    When I need a quick fix for my anxiety, I sing songs in my head (usually Ed Sheeran), focus on my breathing or untie/detangle things. Weird, but untying and detangling things is something I’ve always like doing and that, like Tetris, allows me to both take my mind off of things and think about whatever I want to

  4. i find cleaning really therapeutic too, I’ve really upset the house gets a good clean. Music is my main escape from bad days, it always helps, without fail.

  5. Hooray, it’s not just me who cleans on a bad day! And I completely understand the need to immediately clean the bath. If I’m feeling a bit rubbish, I genuinely do tidy up the flat, change my bedding, put a wash on and hoover everywhere. It makes me feel a bit more in control of things again… and then I have somewhere nice and tidy and clean to sit down with a magazine or some rubbish daytime TV.
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

  6. I definitely agree about reading children’s books – I always re-read Harry Potter in times of stress aka being on an aeroplane. It has to be the right books but when you’ve found them it’s so comforting…

  7. Really enjoyed reading this. This helped me to escape for a few minutes from a busy day.

    I’m glad to hear that others don’t do the conventional things to destress!

    I seem to clean a lot better when I’m stressed or having a bad day…tidy house, tidy mind!

    I like to go on pinterest and get ideas for decorating my home and other days I completely switch off and put a film on and light some candles.

    Xxx

  8. Hi Amber, when i’m having a bad day I tend to listen to heavy metal music – yes it true! I also play on a computer game on the ps4 or have a long chat with my husband as he does a great job in calming me down. xx

  9. I strongly dislike cleaning. A clean house makes me feel less stressed, but the act of making it clean is not fun for me, so I usually get the most done on days when I’m feeling particularly motivated. I DO love reading though. The only childrens’ books I still read are Harry Potter, but I have a tendency to take on the mood of the characters in the books, so sometimes that can be an issue. I really like reading romance novels when I’m sad. They ALWAYS have a happy ending, and I like to read comedic ones, so they usually cheer me up quite nicely.

  10. Personally, I think this great advice, but that’s probably because I do most of things when I’m having a bad day too. Except for flipping through home interior magazines. I love to play Nancy Drew computer games, and re-read Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings when I’m feeling down. And I clean too, because it’s hard to think when the house is a mess. 🙂

  11. I shop. Usually for something tiny, but I always end up buying something.

    And for the reading, while I do reread childhood favorites and have both the Ramona Quimby box set and all 7 Harry potters on my shelf, I tend to read the archives of blogs I really like.

  12. Old children’s books are a great destressor! I have shelves full and read them a lot (probably why everybody says I’m so chilled) I also knit to de stress, although only something easy. If I try one of my more complicated projects then it is the opposite of relaxing, lol.

  13. The re-reading favourite childhood books is spot on! I was very sick a few weeks ago where I couldn’t actually do anything for the entire week (which as a busybody kills me), so I re-read the first three Harry Potter books in two days. While that sounds stressful for some, it was so relaxing to just unplug and read.

  14. I have all the Famous Five books on my Kindle for this very reason. All I can say is, Timmy is one clever dog. And my computer game of choice is Solitaire or Bejewelled.

  15. I love a bit of kitchen cleaning with the tunes blasting and singing at the top of my lungs! I don’t re-read children’s books but I do love re-reading a series that I’m very attached to, although technically The Gallagher Girls series is one of my faves and that’s aimed at teens. And I love The Sims, my current laptop doesn’t have a CD drive :'( xx
    Tanya l Glamour. Glitter. Gloss.

  16. Hi Amber, thank you for this! One of my favourite childhood books to re read when I need a pick me up is The Naughtiest Girl In The School novel, I love Enid Blyton. And Journaling has long been a coping mechanism for me, if im going through something difficult I can sort through it all on paper and then put it from my mind.

    Are the Famous Five novels your childhood books of choice?

  17. Singing at the top of my voice in my car (I tend not to do it at home in case I get an ASBO). It has to be something I know all the words to and that isn’t depressing. I generally find if I sing loud enough and for long enough, whatever was bothering me fades away. Until I get home, anyway… I tend not to read as I get really restless if I’m anxious, but maybe making myself do it would stop me pacing around.

  18. Love the post, Amber. A website came to mind that I think you might find adorable and de-stressing. It’s called, Orisinal: Morning Sunshine. It’s a website featuring 59 Adobe Flash games that were created in 2000 by Ferry Halim from Fresno, California. Ferry Halim’s games mostly contain darling little animals, with beautiful outdoor backgrounds and relaxing, ambient music (some composed by Steven Cravis), although a few games involve fighting and battle as well (I don’t bother with those as much, but they’re still cute). I’m not huge on games, but I just can’t resist pulling up the site every once in a while when it happens to come to mind and I need a breather. All the little animals are just too darn cute, and the music is so lovely and soothing, I could just sit and listen to it all on it’s own.

  19. Cleaning and pony books ~ I’m all for that. Or dejunking! There’s nothing quite so carthic for me as throwing out a bunch of stuff I don’t need and doing a job that otherwise gets left for ages. 😀 ❤

    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill

  20. I, too, love to re-read my childhood favorites! My husband laughs at me for reading children’s books, but I just ignore him 🙂 Love this post!

  21. omg re-reading books that i loved as a child – I still SO totally do that! I think that when you’re stressed you want to be immersed in something light and where you don’t have to think too much and it’s always nice to go back to the familiar stories that you loved as a kid. Other than that I love re-watching Friends or washing dishes if I’m having a bad day! Great post!

  22. When I’m having a bad day, I usually try watching funny animal videos. Nothing relaxes me more than watching a cat taking a bath, or a dog jumping in a trampoline (google it, it’s AWESOME!). If I’m having a bad day during the weekdays (Mon-Fri), usually my work is what relaxes me. It’s strange but being a teacher I have to forget about all my problems (and crap) and focus a 100% on my students, so it helps a lot. It’s like taking a break from your life and just be a teacher for some hours. If it’s during the weekends, I try to read, drink lots of coffee (or tea) and take naps with my beautiful Scooby <3 Naps ALWAYS help.

  23. I love that you hate yoga, like I do, Amber! BORING! I will do it on occasion (found a quirky gal’s videos to stream) when I really don’t feel like working out, but feel guilty for having skipped some other work outs during the week. It feels like a bunch of rolling around on the floor (and I won’t do the kind that requires work.)

    I guess I just waste a lot of time on the internet…it’s a really great idea to actually do something about a bad mood, though. Never thought about it before.

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