Do you ever have those days?
Last weekend, I got to spend some time with my family. It was lovely. Lots of food, laughter, movement, and gezelligheid.
For the past few months, I’ve been running at least twice a week, so I brought my running shoes, and managed to get a 6-day streak (which was longer than I’ve ever done before), and I felt GOOD.
I joined my mom for her dance workouts in the morning, and she joined me for my vocal training. We went for a long walk in the polder, and made lovely vegan food, watched Moxie, and planned to start a riot (only half kidding).
Last night, I came home. I had barely closed the door behind me when I realized… I had forgotten my running shoes. Fuck. For the first time in my life, I have a nice rhythm, an exercise routine that makes me feel great, and now I don’t have my shoes.
(This might also be a good time to confess that I’ve been using them as regular shoes too – my worn-out Converse sneakers have seen better days and I often wear my Nike running shoes when I have to walk fast / far / at all.)
For a moment, I was very tempted to just order a new pair with one-day delivery, but let’s keep it real: as a student / creative / new entrepreneur I can’t afford to spend money on something I already have. Instead, I decided to make a snack. Can’t really go wrong there, right?
I set my popcorn on fire. Again. (Yep, this was not the first time.) So what did I do? I cursed (sorry), took a breath, picked out the stuff that looked ok, and let the rest cool down until it was safe to throw out without setting my whole kitchen on fire.
And then I laughed.
And I realized this is not a terrible way to deal with life.
Some days just suck. There are always going to be things that piss you off, annoy the hell out of you, make you feel sad, insecure, angry, jealous, disappointed, anxious, or alone. Here is how I make it through:
1. Get it out of your system
If and when you can, deal with the stress (which – if you read “Burnout” by Emily and Amelia Nagoski – you’ll know is separate from the stressor). Go for a run, punch a pillow (or, y’know, a punching bag), get a soundproof rehearsal space and sing at the top of your lungs for an hour or two (my personal favourite), cry, write, call a trusted friend, hug a loved one, move your body, take slow deep breaths, or find something else that works for you.
Note: I put this first in the list, but in some situations you have to tackle the stressor first (e.g. when your kitchen is actually on fire, please deal with that first). With emotional triggers, sometimes it might be nice to step away for a moment and change your emotional state before trying again. Find what works for you. You might find you have to deal with the stressor first, before you can even think about relaxing.
2. Take a breath
When you’re ready to deal with the stressor (and this might be the first step in your situation), take a deep breath. Try to make the out-breath longer than the in-breath and slow down. You’ve got this.
In this phase, you might slow down enough to get some clarity. Maybe you feel ready to deal with it, and maybe you realize it’s not actually that bad, and you can simply take another breath and move on. If the former is true, you can move on to step 3.
3. Find what (still) works
Note: Sometimes things are really terrible, and you don’t always need to look for the silver lining (let’s not ignore any real pain), but other times, we have knee-jerk reactions to small things, and there might be space to look up.
You set your popcorn on fire, but some of it still looks edible. You lost a job you loved, but you can afford to take some time off and work on something you’re passionate about. You had a bad fight with your partner, but you learnt something new about yourselves and each other, and you have an idea about how to move forward from here.
Is there anything about this situation that’s already okay? Can you find a small piece that still works? Anything at all?
This might bring some light into the situation, and removing these parts might make the problem feel a little bit smaller.
When you’re done (or if you can’t find anything) move on to step 4.
4. Give it a minute
If the hard thing still feels really difficult, or if the emotions around it are very strong, give it a minute to cool down. Throwing out burning popcorn might make your house burn down. Your post-fight conversation might not be super productive if both parties are still really angry or emotional. Give it a moment.
5. Deal with it & let go
You analyzed the situation (and maybe found some things that still work), so now you’re left with what doesn’t work. In this step, we deal with that.
- You missed a deadline? Maybe you can talk to your teacher / supervisor / colleague / friend and make up for it.
- Forgot to bring back your running shoes? Cool. It’s time for some much-needed recovery, and maybe you can try some new indoor workouts too. (Hello, Mamma Mia-themed dance workouts.)
- You made a mistake? Try to fix it.
- Something bad happened and it’s totally out of your control? Reframe it, accept it, work through it, let it go, or find a good therapist to help you figure it out.
If you often struggle to do things like paying parking tickets and late fees, talking it out with a friend after a fight, making up for something, or handing in the assignment on time, because of emotional resistance, this video from Jessica McCabe might be helpful:
How do you deal with difficult days?
I hope you have a lovely week, and that you find a way to move through the challenging moments.
If you need any help, feel free to reach out 🙂