We've all been there -- stuck in the middle of what appears to be the worst day ever. The weather is rotten, the traffic worse, your clients are crazy, and your roommates ate the last of your cereal. All in all, things are just not going your way.
When your outlook is at its gloomiest like this, it can be hard to think up ways to turn things around (in fact wallowing in your grumpiness can feel like the only sensible option available). But no matter what's turned your mood sour, there are simple and powerful ways to improve things with minimal effort and only a little bit of time. Just ask the internet, which is chock full of suggestions to help you when you're at your lowest, including:
1. Do something you've been dreading
This doesn't sound like a great way to lift your spirits, but on HBR recently, Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage suggests that doing something you've been putting off can do wonders for your mood. "Take a single concrete action," he suggests, even if it's as simple as sending that long-postponed email or ticking that dreaded item off your to-do list. "Your brain records a victory," Achor insists, which can create a positive "mental avalanche" and improve your outlook for the rest of the day.
2. Show some gratitude
Being grateful for the things you have has been proven to make you happier. Lifehack suggests you put that fact to use next time you have a serious case of the blahs. "If you're having a rotten day, grab a piece of paper and start listing things you'd be grateful for if you were in a grateful mood. As expected, you'll soon find that the growing list of things to be grateful for in your life dwarfs whatever is ruining your day and you can move on with your life," suggests the site.
3. Tidy up
You might not be able to straighten out all the larger issues with your life that have gotten you down, but you can tidy up your desk. And that just might be enough to change your outlook, insists author Gretchen Rubin. "Soothe yourself by tackling a messy closet, an untidy desk, or crowded countertops. The sense of tangible progress, control, and orderliness can be a comfort. This always works for me," she suggests on her blog.
4. Take a nap
A short sleep is pretty much the tonic for all that ails you -- including your current doldrums. Naps not only boost your memory and your cognitive performance, they also make you less cranky. And that's not just what kindergarten teachers say, science and experts agree. "If you can make a quick escape to your car for a nap, you'll help beat the effects of stress and reset your system," attests John Rampton on Entrepreneur, for instance. (And if you can't get to your car, maybe you can get this desk, which would make anyone happier.)
5. Pet an animal
If you have a furry friend nearby, fear not. Salvation from your bad day is close at hand. "Petting an animal can dramatically improve your mood. It can have such positive effects that behavioral therapists use animals to help with healing--with equine therapy, for example. Even though owning a pet has been shown to improve self-esteem and well-being, you don't have to have one to reap the benefits," reports Tiny Buddha. Borrowing the neighbor's cat for a quick cuddle will be just as effective a mood booster.
6. Call a friend
It might seem obvious that friends make us happy, but when you're feeling down, hanging out with others can seem pretty unappealing. Psychological research actually shows that if you can bring yourself to pick up the phone, however, socializing is one of the surest routes to a brighter mood.
"The researchers found that people who reported being happier showed a stronger tendency to use a positive social event, like meeting up with a close friend, right after losing some money. They seemed to have the potentially happy habit of using socializing more quickly after their loss to fix their bad moods," PsyBlog reported of one such study.
7. Break your routine
Also on HBR, Annie McKee, founder of the Teleos Leadership Institute and coauthor of Primal Leadership, offers another easily actionable suggestion -- just change your routine. "Drive around, take a walk, or just go to a different floor. The key is to put yourself in a different physical location," she says. Just doing something a bit different can break the mental loop of stress and give you a fresh perspective.
8. Cancel something
Ah, the joy of the suddenly open schedule! Making space in a crowded day can be just the ticket for lifting your mood, Lifehack also suggests. "If you're overwhelmed by a day gone awry one very quick solution is to drop something of lesser importance from your schedule and take some time for yourself. This is terribly simple and quite easy to do but the part of your brain that tries to convince you your work won't survive without you will get in the way. Don't listen to it!" urges the site.
9. Remind yourself of your other identities
It's rare that EVERYTHING goes wrong at once in your life. So when one area stinks, try to think about others that are going better, suggests Rubin. "If you feel like a loser at work, send out a blast email to engage with college friends. If you think members of the PTA are mad at you, don't miss the spinning class where everyone knows and likes you," she writes.
Thanks, Buzzfeed, for this handy compilation of corgi-drawn sleighs, polar bear selfies, epic dog costumes, and other assorted cuteness. It's pretty much guaranteed to turn around even the glummest day. (PS- Science even says your cute kitten break might up your productivity, so don't feel guilty.)
What's your go-to intervention for turning around a lousy day?