OPINION: ‘Cause you had a bad day


Scott Rainey

Scott Rainey

You didn’t get enough sleep last night. Your professor is singling you out in front of the class. You have a lot of homework to do and not enough time to do it. You came to work late, and you got berated by your boss. You forgot to eat lunch, and now you’re irritated, hungry, tired and stressed. You didn’t drink enough water earlier. You’re having a bad day.

Everyone has bad days. It’s part of being a college student. It’s part of being a human. We’re going to have bad days, and there’s nothing we can do about it. You’re going to wake up one day, and you can just tell it’s not going to be your day.

There is almost always a guilt factor around having a bad day, as well. Not only do we feel unproductive, but we also feel bad about being unproductive. That guilt we feel? It’s definitely not productive!

In our hyper-stimulated, busy, hard-work-loving society, there seems to be a stigma around having a bad day. You should just cheer up! There are people who have it much worse than you, right? Therefore you have nothing to feel bad about, right? Not quite. Having a bad day is normal, and sometimes you just need to have one.

As long as you’re generally taking care of yourself, having a bad day is not a huge misstep in your life. If you know you have work to do and you don’t want to do it, trying to suppress that negative feeling will only create more mental pain and irritation. If you allow yourself the room to feel the initial stress and irritation, its effects will not overwhelm you as much. Give yourself permission to have a bad day, and you’ll have the best bad day you’ve had in a long time.

Think of treating bad days in the same way you’d treat a sick day. When you have a cold or a fever, you don’t beat up on yourself. You don’t feel guilty for not being able to do every task at peak performance. You’ve got a fever for goodness’s sake!

We often don’t have the same mindset when we’re having a bad day because we somehow feel like it’s our fault. We think about every mistake that contributed to our negative feelings, and if we’d only done the right thing earlier, we could’ve avoided our irritation, our stress and our exhaustion. We blame ourselves for our own negative feelings and then feel worse. We feel bad for blaming ourselves, and then we judge ourselves for blaming ourselves. Now we’re twisted into a pretzel of emotions and judgment.

If we can learn to be OK with bad days and the negative feelings associated with them, we’ll be able to operate more effectively. It will pass more quickly than expected, and you will be able to actually do the work you really don’t want to do.

You have had bad days before, and you’re going to have bad days again, so why not let yourself have it? Really let yourself have a bad day, really let yourself feel tired, irritated, upset and stressed. These feelings will work themselves out. Have a bad day, everyone!

Scott Rainey is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].