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How to Get Through a Bad Day at Work

Updated on February 07, 2017
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I provide tips on how to get the most out of your chosen career, whether you're a freelancer or work full-time in an office setting.

Employment-related stress is a common symptom of today's modern work world. People are putting in longer hours, spending more time commuting and being asked to stay connected to the job 24/7 thanks to the proliferation of smart-gadgets and social media.

Stress is an inevitable side-effect of being part of the modern world of 21st century work. It doesn’t matter if you have a white-collar job or you work heavy-duty graveyard shifts in a manufacturing plant. Almost anyone who has ever had a job has felt confused, disillusioned, and anxious about how to move forward when stress starts to pile up. Here are some tips for how to ease work-related stress and get through a bad day at work without losing your mind.


Always be content with doing your best. Comparing yourself to others and their perceived accomplishments is a fruitless pursuit. Set your own personal goals and work towards achieving them, one step at a time. Sustainable self-worth comes from internal, soulful sources, not external, material sources. Write affirmations and tape them to the inside of your desk drawer where no one can see them but you. Look at them often as you need to.

Recharge your self-esteem and find ways to celebrate your accomplishments. Take some time at the end of each week to work on your “Fabulous Folio” – a file filled with photocopies of Thank you notes, letters of reference, accolades, and samples of projects that you worked on and feel proud of. Big sketchbooks and binders with plastic page protectors make great personal folios. Organize the material the way you want to, not the way you think it should look if you were presenting it to a future employer. Make kind comments to yourself on sticky notes and attach them to clippings and photos. (It’s unlikely that anyone will notice if you spend 20 minutes at the end of each Friday working on this project. In fact, you’ll look busy organizing files and making notes while others sit idly at their desks waiting for the 5:00 o’clock bell.)

When you are stressed out at work, it helps to remind yourself often that you have had successes at work in the past that prove you are a competent and capable employee.
When you are stressed out at work, it helps to remind yourself often that you have had successes at work in the past that prove you are a competent and capable employee. | Source

Drink water, eat well, and try to go for a walk on your lunch break. You can't always control what your boss says or how your co-worker treats you. But you can control how you treat yourself. Eat wholesome, fresh foods for lunch as often as you can. Try to maintain balanced blood-sugar levels so that you don't experience energy surges followed by mental crashes and late afternoon fatigue. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and try to get outside for some fresh air if you can.

Put your job into perspective. Take a deep breath and remember that you work for a living, you don’t live for working. Think of the people (or four-legged friends) in your life who care about you and love you just as you are. Your five year-old daughter still thinks you’re groovy, even if an angry customer yelled at you for no reason at all. Your dog still dances in circles when you walk through the door, even if you stumbled through a sales presentation. Focus on the things that really matter and everything else will fall into place.

Stay Positive. The first thing that any worker can do to make a stressful work situation more tolerable is to focus on all the positive things about your job, your friends and your family.

  • Sometimes simply looking around and expressing your gratitude to the people you work with can change a stressful situation into a more positive and productive one.
  • It’s also important to not let mental stress keep you from falling behind in your work because that can elevate your fear and anxiety levels. Pushing through and tackling all those tasks that you have been putting off may take some effort, but in the end, you’ll be happier for it.
  • Taking care of yourself when someone else comes down on you is also important for beating stress at work.
  • Focusing on your personal strengths and conjuring up visions of the people who love you unconditionally can also help you feel better about yourself.

You're still a superstar to the ones who love you!


Reach out and ask for help if you need to. Keep in mind that these tips are suggestions for people who are experiencing temporary feelings of stress and job dissatisfaction. If your feelings of sadness are not going away and you have experienced other significant life changes or loss (i.e.; the loss of a loved one, separation or divorce, physical illness) talk to your family physician and/or seek professional assistance from a qualified counselor or therapist. Some companies offer employee assistance programs that cover the cost of short-term counseling. You may even have extended benefits that cover massage therapy, physiotherapy, nutrition counseling and other health therapies that can help lift you out of an emotional or physical slump.

© 2017 Sally Hayes


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