How to Overcome Bad Days at Work (With Helpful Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 12, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Work-related stress or a complex project can sometimes make you experience negative emotions at work. To overcome these feelings, it's necessary to apply a strategy of self-care and positive thoughts to improve your mood, focus, and motivation. Learning about how to identify a bad day at work and the methods to overcome the feelings may help you reduce stress, improve your professional performance, and increase job satisfaction.

In this article, we discuss what bad days at work mean, explain how to overcome these days and the feelings associated with them, and list some tips for coping with bad days at your workplace.

Related: How to Effectively Manage Feeling Overwhelmed at Work

What do bad days at work mean?

Bad days at work often involve experiencing a sense of discouragement or anxiety. This can happen even if you're not having any problems at work, as there are several causes for these feelings, such as excessive workloads or lack of knowledge. These days also mean that it's necessary for you to cope with the negative impact of these feelings and look for positive ways to handle them. Sometimes, employers encourage their employees to look for counsellors who can help them develop better coping mechanisms for these days.

They can also help them learn how to apply a positive mindset to their jobs. Other employers might encourage their staff to talk with their managers about their feelings and find ways to handle them better. For instance, if you're experiencing a bad day because you have too many responsibilities, your manager can help you redistribute them among your coworkers. Usually, companies try to avoid these negative situations by making their employees feel valued and appreciated. To do this, they can implement reward programs for their staff and recognize their efforts and achievements.

Related: How to Cope with Feeling Unappreciated at Work (With Helpful Tips)

How to overcome bad days at work

Here are the six steps you can take to overcome a bad day at your workplace:

1. Assess why you are experiencing a bad day

The first step in overcoming a bad day is to acknowledge it and understand the source of the problem. To do this, you can evaluate your day from beginning to end and determine what went well and what didn't. Start by writing a list of the activities you performed during the day and the outcomes of each. This can be a helpful exercise to determine all the positive results you achieved during your day and the few negative ones.

It can help you realize the real dimension of the problem and prevent you from ignoring the positive aspects of your day. For instance, suppose you had a disagreement with a coworker over a document formatting issue, and the situation made you feel upset. After recounting your day, you realize that both were feeling excited before the disagreement, as both contributed to a major project successfully. Evaluating both situations might help you analyze the importance of the disagreement and better understand its causes.

Related: 10 Tips to Cope When You're Feeling Frustrated at Work

2. Evaluate how the bad day has impacted your work

After understanding the source of the problem, you can evaluate how this issue has prevented you from doing your work effectively. Analyzing how a bad day might have affected your professional focus can help you recover it and use other opportunities to perform your responsibilities more efficiently. Identifying new opportunities can also motivate you and encourage you to excel in your work, helping you to meet your goals and overcome the bad days.

For instance, suppose that you're experiencing a bad day because you didn't meet a project deadline. Here, you can analyze the situation and think about the rest of your obligations within the project. Doing this might help you feel motivated to find a way to meet other deadlines and still meet the project's goal.

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3. Think about personal goals or aspirations

Identifying and using the remaining opportunities to meet relevant goals can help you remember your personal aspirations and objectives. This is important because your efforts and achievements at work might respond to personal goals that you've set for yourself. For instance, suppose that one of your personal objectives is to move to a new city and you know your employer is about to open a subsidiary in that location and is looking to fill certain positions.

Here, it's beneficial for you to overcome negative feelings that bad days might cause and focus on working toward your aspirations. By staying positive, you can make yourself a more viable candidate to start working in the new location, which may change your outlook. Personal goals can be an excellent source of motivation and positive thoughts to keep you motivated and cope with any work-related problems.

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4. Share your feelings

After getting a positive mindset, it's beneficial for you to address the negative feelings or situation that caused the bad day. You can do this by talking to a professional, such as a therapist or psychologist, or by talking to a trusted friend or family member. If the problem involved a coworker, it's important to address the issue with them or with your manager. Sharing your feelings can help you listen to others' feedback, acknowledge how others felt during the situation, and understand that all parties can find a solution.

Related: 9 Ways to Make Employees Feel Valued at Work (With Benefit)

5. Ask for a different project

After talking about your feelings, you can use the positive mood you have to take on a new challenge. You can ask your manager for a new opportunity to work on a project that might help you demonstrate to yourself that you're a valuable and effective employee. This can also help you feel more confident about your abilities and your potential.

Here, it's important to avoid repeating mistakes and implement a more efficient approach to your work. If you achieve your goals, your manager might give you a reward, which can make you feel appreciated and positive.

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6. Show your results

Using a meeting to show your project results to your coworkers and supervisors can enhance your confidence and make you feel motivated. You can ask your colleagues to provide you with feedback and suggestions on your project, as this can help you receive, accept, and handle constructive criticism. During the meeting, you can also receive compliments and positive observations about your project, which can motivate you to work harder.

This experience can help you understand that it's normal to experience bad days when you are working on a project or trying to complete a task. It can also help you realize that the most important aspect of these days is to avoid allowing them to affect your performance and personal life.

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Tips for coping with bad days at work

Here are three tips that can help you cope with a bad day at your workplace:

Listen to music or a podcast

After experiencing a bad day in your workplace, it's beneficial to listen to motivational audio or songs that can help you feel positive about yourself and your job. You can also listen to your favourite songs to help you relax and better understand your feelings and any negative situation you had at work. You can do this at home, during your lunchtime, or while returning to your house.

There are several free podcasts made by counsellors and psychologists who discuss how to overcome bad days. It's important to consider this option if you don't want to listen to music or prefer to listen to what a professional can recommend you to do.

Related: A List of 19 Techniques for Stress Management at Work

Talk with friends

Your friends can provide you with a different perspective on your work-related issues. If you talk with your friends about your bad days, they can listen to you and help you find solutions you might not have considered. Your friends can also help you focus on different topics and share some of their positive experiences that can help you feel motivated and overcome your bad days.

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Exercise outside or at home

Exercising can help you relax and reduce stress. You can exercise at the end of the day and try to focus on your relaxation and the movements of your body. You can also establish a routine of daily exercise to avoid thinking about work-related events and issues while you're at home.

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