Have you ever looked around at the state of your day, or even the state of your life, and thought, “What is even happening right now?”
I have moments like this.
The other morning, Miles woke up early with his grumpy pants on and it wasn’t even 8am before I had spilled my coffee and he was throwing Cheerios and screaming what I can only assume were baby expletives. For a half second I considered hiding in the bathroom with coffee-dunked Oreos to weather the storm. Obviously, I know he’s a baby and babies have bad days just like we do, but it’s hard not to let little negative things in life bring you down.
Some of you may have tantruming toddlers of your own and some of you may not, but the fact of the matter is that none of us are immune to bad days. Sometimes there are big problems causing a bad day and sometimes a million little things compound into a situation that feels massive.
On that rough morning with Miles when I could see my day spiraling right before my eyes I took a second, realized what was going on. In moments like this, I usually can see my mood going sour and that’s when I know I need to hit the reset button.
You probably remember me mentioning this concept before because for me, especially in my mothering journey, this has been a game-changer! Basically, the idea is that instead of writing off a whole day as bad or hard or unchangeable because of a bad moment (or series of moments), you decide right then—right in the very heat of things—to push the reset button and start over. Yes, it’s a little bit of a mental game but friends, it really works and it has helped me gain control of situations that could otherwise compound in a negative way. I’ve learned not to wait for tomorrow to have a better day but to start my day over as often and whenever I need. Because let’s be honest, who wants to have a bad day when you could have a good one?
Here are a few things that have been really helpful for me when I want to hit the reset button on my day.
Acknowledge that you’re having a rough time and that it’s weighing on your mood
It’s OK to feel upset or overwhelmed or frustrated or grumpy. Putting a name to your own emotions can be really helpful, and useful. Mr. Rogers said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” Yes, I just quoted Mr. Rogers…I am the mother of a toddler, here. But seriously, acknowledging that life is tricky and you’re feeling funky is the first step to taking control of your day.
I literally will say aloud to myself “OK, Kallie, you’re feeling annoyed (or insert whatever emotion here). But, you can control that.” There’s something powerful about just saying “ok I am feeling shitty.” By acknowledging it, it helps me name how I’m feeling which then allows me to control that.
Remember that a bad moment doesn’t mean a bad day and a bad day doesn’t mean a bad life
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the notion of having a “bad day” when really all you’re having is a bad moment.
Bad moments happen —but don’t allow that moment to swallow the rest of your beautiful day. And for that matter, don’t let a legitimately bad day swallow the rest of your beautiful life. Give that moment or that day the feelings they deserve and then move on to the next moment. Sometimes when things seem particularly glum I like to be deliberate in looking for the sunshine around me amidst the storm. The person who put my shopping cart away while I buckled the baby into the car. The 10 minutes when the sun peeked through the clouds and Miles was happily playing with his shovel. Whatever it is, life is peppered with good and bad, easy and hard.
Our brains are actually hardwired to focus on the bad in life, it’s called negativity bias – you can Google it. It’s why we might stew over one mean comment someone said about us and forget 100 other nice comments. Because of this hardwiring in our brain, we have to work harder to see the good.
Choose to leave what’s happened in the past and see everything ahead as a new chance
Don’t spend too much time dwelling on what has happened when you can use that time and energy to prepare for what could happen. Yes, you burned toast. Yes, you were late for a doctor’s appointment. Yes, you spilled your coffee on your shirt and broke your favorite mug. You can choose to either think about those bad moments and sit around having a pity party about how rough the day is going….or write them off as part of life and move ahead.
And you know what? You’ll find the less you let past moments impact present ones, you’ll see the moments before you have all the potential to be beautiful and fun and happy.
Force a shift
When you’re stuck in a rut, only you can get yourself out of the rut! I find one of the best ways to reset is forcing a shift in my location or current mindset. I have to make a conscious effort to make a shift. This can be as simple as going into the kitchen and eating some chocolate, turning on upbeat music and having a living room dance party, getting in the car to run an errand, or going for a walk. In harder circumstances, it might be calling and confiding in a friend or asking your husband to take the kids for 20 minutes so that you can have some mental space.
It may not work to just hit the reset button in your brain and expect your day to be rainbows and unicorns. I wish that were the case, believe me, but often times bad stuff keeps coming and I’ve trained my mind to constantly hit that reset button. Hit it again and again and again…because you are in control of your day.
And, if you’re wondering what happened with me and Miles on that rough morning I was mentioning before, well I decided to personally hit the reset button. I realized that his exhaustion was making me feel stressed, but I didn’t need to let it ruin my day. I made myself a fancy coffee (complete with whipped cream ‘cause “treat yo self,”) and bundled Miles up to go outside for some fresh air. While he played I made a list of some things I wanted to get done that day that I knew would make me feel productive. Later, while he was napping, I caught up on some chores, savored a little snack in the silence of my dining room, and reminded myself that today was still good for countless reasons.
Sure, Miles was still a little off when he woke up from his nap and by all intents and purposes our day was not perfect, but I had (re)set myself up for success and it made all the difference. It went from a day I could have spent moping around stewing over how bad everything was going, to a much more positive day complete with some book reading cuddles that afternoon.