How To Turn Around A Rough Day At Work

Are you having a rough day at work, or have you had a series of them this week? If so, join the club. Once in a while, we all have “those days” when everything seems to be going wrong. Often the cause of it is entirely outside of our control.

But how we respond to a rough day can make the difference between a rapid recovery and long-lasting damage. As alluring as it may be to just write off that day from hell, it’s better to take action that can turn things around, or at least stop them from getting worse. Subject to what’s causing your bad day, here are some steps to take.

1. Accept Your Bad Mood

The first step towards solving any problem is acceptance. So don’t pretend to have everything under control. It’s perfectly all right to wear your heart on your sleeves on wearisome days. Worse things can happen if you force yourself into a good mood, instead of accepting that a rough day can happen to anyone. Bottling up all that inner anguish means that, sooner than later, you’re going to explode, and that is not a very pleasing scenario, both for yourself and for others around you. So don’t leave fate to chance, and embrace and accept a bad day.

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2. Look Inside For Possible Causes

You’ve put up with another angry client for the umpteenth time, and you feel like you’re at the end of your wits. And you’re more bothered by the fact that you seem to have no idea why this is happening to you. Perhaps your bad mood is clouding judgment, because all problems have a discernible root cause, and yours does too. All you have to do is find it, and the only way you can do that is to look within yourself. Maybe you couldn’t fall asleep the previous night, maybe you had a fight with a loved one recently, maybe your child was sent to the principal’s office again. Whatever may be the reason, it cannot be used to excuse your irritable demeanor, but knowing that there is a reason will definitely help you process things more clearly.

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3. Share Your Concerns

Why not share thoughts on your bad mood or work-related struggles to a trusted colleague, maybe over a cup of coffee? Talking aloud about your problems can feel like a burden is being lifted, and perhaps your wise colleague can even offer a few suggestions that can help you get back on your feet. Chances are that your colleague might even do something to cheer you up, and it might actually work! If you feel uncomfortable talking about your rough day with your co-workers, then you can rely on your family or your close friends. A different perspective to your troubles will certainly help you see things objectively, and thereby focus on troubleshooting.

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4. Remember The Good Stuff

Even on the darkest days, everyone has something positive in their life that can bring a smile to their faces. It could be family, friends, old memories, or some achievement. So when you find yourself face to face with the worst day of your life (so far!), jot down all that is dear to you- things that make you smile, things that you’re grateful for, things that you’re yet to do. Now read that ‘blessings’ list every now and then, and in time, you will brush off those pesky, rough days as if they were nothing. Because you have far more important things in your life, right?

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5. Start Your Day Over

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if life came with a ‘reset’ button? Every time you mess up or life messes you up, you can just go back to the last time you were fine, like in a video game. Alas, that option doesn’t exist, but you can definitely do a ‘soft reset’ whenever you have a rough day. Just leave your workplace briefly, go somewhere quiet, take deep breaths, centre yourself, and return to your desk refreshed, as if you’re just starting another new day at work. And if you keep at it, then each start will leave you better equipped to deal with whatever that may come your way.

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6. Distract Your Mind

At any given instance of time, your mind can hold only one thought. So when a negative one walks into your mind’s garden, remove it immediately and replace it with a more positive and welcoming thought. Tell your mind about the things that really matter, and the small, shallow things will fade away into nothingness on their own. The positive thoughts should define your outlook towards work and life, and fill you in all your entirety. A clear mind is a powerful ally in the battle against bad work days, and it will replenish you with some much-needed vigor so that you can take the day on by its horns.

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7. Take A Break

Sitting at a desk all day and dealing with the monotony and mundaneness of work can be energy sapping, not to mention your aura of bonhomie taking a beating. So, just step away from your computer, take a long walk, have a chat with your colleagues, or watch a YouTube video. Regular breaks can help you to refocus your energies on what matters, while blocking away unnecessary noise and clutter. Suddenly, you’ll find that your rough day just got all that more manageable.

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8. Compartmentalize

Try not to let your work-related stress overlap with your personal life, and vice versa. What happens in the office, stays in the office. Keeping one’s emotions under check, especially in trying circumstances, is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the more you practise it, the more you will find that your rough days tend to be a lot smoother than you expected. Also, keep track of all your schedules and appointments, because the last thing you need is to arrive late for an important meeting on an already vexing day, and then proceed to take your frustrations out on your clients.

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9. Find Humour In Everything

Have you ever wondered why or how ‘laughter is the best medicine?’ Well, that’s because when you have a good laugh, your brain releases endorphins, which are chemicals that make you feel all warm and snug. So when your co-workers or your customers keep making things worse for you, don’t fret. Because all you have to do is take a short break to watch a funny YouTube video (preferably involving dogs on tricycles!), laugh out loud (not too loud), and find yourself be instantly uplifted.

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10. Boost Those Endorphins

A rough day at work can be attributed to stress, either work-related or personal, and it is no easy thing to keep your senses when nothing seems to be going right. So here are some more good ways to boost those endorphins:

  • Mild exercise, especially in the morning.
  • Drinking caffeine.
  • A walk in the sun.
  • Petting cute animals.
  • Music, particularly your favourite songs, or natural sounds like waves crashing on a beach.
  • Indulging your sweet tooth with a muffin or a cupcake or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a big slice of that cake or pie you’ve had your eyes set on all week.

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11. Get Busy Living

This too shall pass.” Has there ever been a truer sentence that applies to all the situations in life? And the phrase definitely applies to your current scenario as well. So, you’ve had a rough day at work. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all your work days will be equally exasperating. Each day is different, and who knows, maybe the next day will be the day you finally get a promotion or you close a huge business deal. So all you have to do is endure the bad days so that the good days become all the more enjoyable and satisfactory. C’est la vie, right?


Bad work days are a part and parcel of work, and it is very rare for anyone to escape the clutches of a horrendous day all the time. It ultimately boils down to one’s resolve and steadfastness, and not allowing frustrations to bog you down. So, ensure that your positivity and cheerfulness trumps dreariness and annoyance, and you will find that your rough day at work, rather than breaking you, will make you into the empowered individual that you’re meant to be.

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