Having a Bad Day at Work: 7 Hacks for Transforming Your Mood


woman ovewhelmed at her desk


Jessica Kay
Jessica Kay10
We all go through ups and downs in life. It’s completely normal to have a bad day here and there, even at work. But when it does happen while you're at the office, you can’t always remove yourself from the source of the situation that is bringing you down.
This tends to leave people feeling strapped or stuck. Whether it is a less-than-ideal performance review, a missed deadline, a conflict with a coworker or your boss, sometimes a resolution for your lousy day isn’t readily available or even possible.
This is where your emotional intelligence comes in. You may not be able to control the situation that's bringing your down, but you can control the degree to which it affects you and how long you feel this way. This philosophy is one of the fundamental principles that make up positive psychology.

Turning a bad day around

Here are seven ways to cope when you are having a bad day at work and can't get away:

1. Play your favorite music or podcasts.

If you don’t have the luxury of having your own space or office—and let’s face it, most of us don’t—your headphones are your best friend. Put on your favorite tunes on Spotify, block the world out, and get lost in the world of music. Another way to improve your mood is to listen to a light or humorous podcast. One good choice for taking your mind off of your bad mood is WNCY’s 2 Dope Queens.

2. Make yourself a cup of your favorite tea.

I keep a box of herbal tea with six different flavors at work. I save each different flavor for a separate occasion, and I reserve my favorite one for the most difficult moments. There is something sacred and special about making my favorite flavor of the tea. I find the process of making the tea and watching the tea leaves relax and float in steaming hot water very relaxing and soothing.

3. Talk to people who need you.

Do you have family members, friends, colleagues, or other people who always come to you for advice or lean on you when they need someone to listen to them vent? Pick up the phone and call them. Talking to people who need you and your advice is always a good mood booster.

4. Meditate or journal. Or do both.

Even if you're not in the habit of meditating or journaling, and even if you have given it a try in the past and didn't find that it had much of an effect on your mood, just do it. There's something about submitting to a simple, predictable action and going through the process of completing the action that is satisfying in itself.
When you journal, try to write down 10 things for which you are grateful in your life. Gratitude produces happiness. Over time, the habit of meditating or journaling will build up your shield against emotional turbulence and help keep you balanced and clear-headed, even when you're having a bad day at the office.

5. Create a simple to-do list (preferably including only mindless tasks), and crank the items out.

We all have tedious tasks at work that we put off until the last minute, whether it's logging data into a spreadsheet, taking mandatory employee training and learning programs, or deleting files from your computer that are taking up too much storage space. When you need your mind to let get of the persistent, negative feelings, completing mindless tasks and checking them off your to-do list is a good way create a sense of accomplishment.

6. Do something nice for someone else.

When we are trapped inside our own thoughts and focusing on our misery or bad experiences, we are only thinking about ourselves. But humans are social animals, and we thrive on collective joy and the joy of others. So take a moment to make someone else's day a little bit better. Go to a Starbucks and pay for the next customer’s drink. When you head out to lunch, bring a box of donuts back to work for your coworkers. Write an email to a coworker, complimenting her on an accomplishment. When you create a positive experience for others, you'll be able to take pleasure in the happiness of others and your own spirit of generosity.

7. Watch 10 minutes of Animal Kingdom Kitten Cam.

This is the penicillin for everything that could possibly go wrong in the world.
At the end of the day, remember that you have control over how you feel, even at work. In face of difficult, annoying situations that leave you feeling icky, focus less on resolving the issue in the moment and more on how you feel or react in response. There are some problems and setbacks that are beyond our control, but developing the ability to cope with challenging situations can keep them from overwhelming you.
Jessica is a writer, a digital marketer, social media aficionado and a lifestyle blogger at Cubicle Chic. Through her writing, Jessica aims to connect with fellow corporate 9-5ers who may be bound by an office physically but crave for much more in life. She writes blog posts about inter-office politics, how to climb the corporate ladder, resolve interpersonal conflicts, and how to do it all in the best outfits possible. Jessica lives in sunny San Diego with her husband and two cats, Lulu and Miles.