Hello, it’s Kelly, and I’m having a shitty day. You know the type of days where everything just goes wrong? I hit my knee against the side of my coffee table this morning hard enough to leave a bruise and that was the real high point. So I’m in a ~place~ rn, and needed to remind myself that there is joy and laughter and the Fab Five in the world. In case you’re in the same place, here’s a handy list of 30 things to do if you’re screaming internally. Here’s to turning your day (and mine) around!
1. Create a personal ritual
Looking forward to something can soothe a lot of ills. When I’m having a particularly sh*t day, I remind myself frequently that when I get home, I will commence with my favorite ritual. I turn off my phone, light every candle in my apartment (that usually means about 10-15 tbh), pour myself a glass of bourbon on the rocks (splash of water, squeeze of lemon), and lay down on my yoga mat to listen to an episode of Binge Mode (the best podcast… possibly ever?). It’s an hour completely to myself, where no one can bother me, and I love the ritual nature of it. Try creating your own ideal ritual — whatever that looks like for you — that you’ll be able to look forward to on the days when you want to scream your head off by 9 am.
2. Try the Headspace App
Meditation is not the easiest practice, especially when you feel like you can’t turn your brain off or your fingers are constantly itching for your phone. Nix the phone dependency by actually using your phone to meditate with the Headspace app. You’ll be too occupied to wonder if you just got a text and the guided nature of the meditations takes all the stress out of “omm…migod, I don’t know how to meditate.” In a few minutes, you’ll feel calmer and less like your bad day has ruined your evening.
3. Find some water
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth… and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” H. Melville
Remember that episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory is having a no good, very bad day and wants to steal a yacht? (My advice here is not to steal a yacht, btw.) She wants to take to the sea because there’s nothing like the melodic lapping of waves to clear or calm your mind. If you live by water — lake, ocean, tiny stream — carve out some time to walk or simply sit and take it all in. If you’re living in a dry climate, turn on some bubbling water sounds and let your imagination take you there.
4. Sit in Child’s Pose
There is truly something about Child’s Pose. It’s contained, so it sort of feels like you’re at once hugging yourself and hugging the floor. It instantly feels safe and oh-so-relaxing. Close your eyes. Inhale for four beats. Hold your breath for four beats. Exhale for eight beats. Repeat. ~Bliss~
5. Buy — or pick — yourself flowers
Doing something purely for yourself can be utterly healing. One of my favorites is to pick up a bouquet of flowers for my apartment. I put them in makeshift vases — cups, mugs, pitchers — and just looking at them makes me feel calmer, happier. If you’re short on cash, try picking some wildflowers.
6. Turn on something guaranteed to make you laugh
We all have those shows that make us laugh out loud, no matter how many times we’ve seen them. For me, it’s the “Drug Testing” episode of The Office (or really, any epsiode of The Office). Even thinking about it now is making me laugh like a weirdo while writing this. Turn on one of your go-to shows or episodes and turn your brain completely off. Focus on the show — don’t look at your phone, don’t open your computer. Laugh, smile, enjoy. This is the only moment that exists.
7. Make an “Affirmations Folder”
My very good friend and hilarious deskmate, Abigail, introduced me to the beautiful concept of the “Affirmations Folder.” Create a folder on your desktop and, any time that you receive written praise or affirmation or good stuff, take a screenshot and add it to your folder. Now, you have an instant pick-me-up repository. Open your folder when you’re having a bad day and relive your best moments.
8. Get sweaty
Take a kickboxing class. Go for a run. Pull up a Youtube dance workout (you can never, ever, go wrong with The Fitness Marshall). Remember Elle Woods and her iconic words: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t.”
9. Take a nap
Invest in an eye mask (essential for midday napping) and snuggle yourself under a mound of fluffy covers. Turn on a fan for the gentle, white noise whirring. Close your eyes. Let your mind drift. Cry if you need to.
10. Make a cup of coffee or tea
This one is about the ritual again. Break out your favorite mug and your most delicious tea or coffee and go all brewmaster. Once your hot drink of healing is ready, cup it in your hands like you’re starring a lifetime movie set in New England in the fall and drink it while staring dreamily into space. You are zen. You are Beyoncé.
11. Read something purely escapist
Whether it’s a romance novel or a book about psychopaths, read something that holds your interest completely. Get lost in the pages and let your stress melt away. I strongly recommend a glass of wine while you read.
12. Watch the sunset or go star-gazing
Nature is awe-inspiring, even on the worst of days. Sometimes the best thing to do when you’re feeling extraordinarily down is to remind yourself that this was just another day. Time passes. The world is bigger than this one day, than this one problem. Staying up to watch the sun slip down the sky or venturing out to gaze at the vastness of the stars is a beautiful (and free!) way to reinforce the bigger world out there. Your bad day will feel a million miles away.
13. Dab cold water on your wrists
This is my favorite trick of all time. If you’re feeling STRESSED and ready to explode, excuse yourself to the bathroom and dab really cold water on the inside of your wrists. It’s like splashing cold water on your face, but it won’t ruin your makeup. You’ll instantly feel perked up and about 20° degrees cooler. You literally cooled yourself down. Just try it. It’s magic.
14. Take a shower — or bath — break
Luxuriate in the shower. Wash your hair with an impromptu scalp massage. Shave your legs (if you’re into that). Exfoliate. Stand under the spray mindlessly. Turn off the water and dry brush or moisturize. Pretend you’re at the spa and treat it like it’s your job. P.S. — don’t do this every day, because the environment won’t thank you. Try limiting it to special occasions when you realllllllly need the hot water therapy. Or try a bath!
15. Pet a dog — or a cat!
Animal therapy is a real thing and it’s amazing. If you have a pet of your own, get some real good cuddles in or take your dog for a walk. If you don’t have an animal, grab a friend who does or just go for a walk around the block or hit a park. I’m like 80% sure you will see a dog you can make friends with. You can also volunteer your time at an animal shelter, which is a guaranteed way to make yourself feel better — and useful — after a long and stressful day.
16. Phone a friend — or meet up for happy hour
I hate talking on the phone, but I have reached such an echelon of friendship with my best friend that we talk on the phone every week (we also live in different states… so that probably has something to do with it). She is my go-to person when I need to have a full-on complaint sesh and let me tell you, these kind of friends are INVALUABLE. Find someone who recognizes when you need to vent and then hold onto that person for dear life.
17. Dance it out
Dance off. Right now. Only it’s between you, yourself, and you over there. Turn the music up so loud your neighbors are sure to complain and let every single thought shake right outta yo head.
18. Put on a sheet mask
I am all about them sheet masks lately — especially because they tend to slip off if you don’t lay in a prone position. Making them perfect for a deep breathing session with some ultra calming music.
19. Get out in nature and feed your soul
Being in nature is relaxing, according to science. Give your brain a break from the constant blue light radiating from your phone, computer, tablet, and television and go outside. Soak up all the green. Get a good dose of vitamin D. Breathe deeply. Listen to the birds. Say hi to squirrels. Pet trees. You get the gist.
Sometimes you just need to get all that toxic energy out of your system with a good old-fashioned scream. Put your face into a pillow — so you don’t scare people — and scream. Let it out. Maybe throw the pillow across the room. Let that negativity escape your body.
21. Make a list
I am a pen-to-paper girl and I love making a list. Of anything. And everything. If I’ve had a real crap day, sometimes making a list of everything that I liked about the day — my Uber was super cheap, I read a fascinating article during lunch, I got a compliment on my shoes, my coworkers made me laugh — it helps put it all in perspective. Other fun things to make lists about when you’re feeling blue: dream vacations, favorite badass female TV characters, what to get your best friend for her birthday, books you want to read next, places to volunteer, your favorite things about yourself, etc.
22. Put your head between your knees and count to 10
This is the grown-up equivalent of a timeout. Breathe through your stress. You are not this situation and this situation will not beat you.
23. Cook a delicious meal for yourself
I am usually ~not about~ cooking. But sometimes, creating the right atmosphere to cook makes all the difference. After a bad day, choose something delicious (like pasta YUM) and go to the grocery (or Instacart it) for only the items you need for your recipe — plus wine. Then, turn on some music — may I suggest this playlist? — and twirl around your kitchen, chopping and sauteing like the Barefoot Contessa herself.
24. Make a donation
I love that little burst of happiness that comes from helping others. A really easy way to do this — if you’re in a good financial place — is to make a donation. Can be as little as $1. Choose an organization — or search on crowdfunding sites — that speaks to you and contribute. You will instantly feel amazing. If you’re not in a financial place to make a donation, try doing an act of service. Carry someone’s groceries to their car that needs help. Help pick up trash in a park. Volunteer your time.
25. Tidy your space
This sounds counterintuitive unless you’re one of those unicorn people who cleans when they are stressed (also, can you come over?). But hear me out: having a purpose and moving your body, hands, mind toward that goal will give you some much-needed clarity. It will also keep you from doing something ill-advised, like texting or emailing someone you shouldn’t while in a heightened emotional state. Plus, afterward, you’ll have a tidy space! Win, win.
26. Make a rage playlist
When you’re not stressed, make a playlist for all your stressed out times with some good belt-y music. Then when you feel buried under a mountain of annoyance, turn on your playlist and go to town.
27. Go for a drive
If you have a car, one of the most therapeutic things to do is go for a night drive. Lazily meander about like you’re back in high school and cruisin’ was the thing (and the only thing) to do.
I looooove journaling. There are some things you just NEED to get out there, but don’t want to tell anyone. This is where a journal comes in. It won’t judge you, nothing you say will come back to haunt you. It’s a place purely your own for getting out anything and everything that is eating you up inside.
29. Go for a hug
My love language is physical touch, so I’m constantly on the lookout for a good hug (I’m normal, I promise). There is something so inherently centering about hugging someone you trust. It reminds you that you are not alone and that this is only a day, only a moment in your life. You’re going to be okay.
30. Give yourself a facial massage
Facial massage is SO EFFING RELAXING. Seriously, it is amazing and everyone should be doing it. Watch this tutorial, grab a facial oil (this one is the tops) and knead away every ounce of worry or stress you have ever had. Bonus: facial massage is hella good for your skin and will make you look radiant and glowy — a surefire mood booster.