How I Get Through a Bad Day
By Hallie | @flyingthroughit | November 19, 2018
We’ve all been there. One day, you’re on top of the world, then another, you can barely pull yourself out of bed. You might be experiencing fatigue from a crash caused by a known trigger. You might be at the beginning of a long journey of chronic illness and self-discovery, or you might be years into it. It might just be your average day in this stage of your recovery cycle. It can be full of physical pain, emotional pain, or some of both.
I know what a bad day feels like; I have been there, too.
Despite constantly juggling my medical circus, I am fortunate that I am also able to be fairly active. I am preparing to start a new, full-time job after a few months off from work thanks to moving across the USA. I love to hike, and I enjoy exercising when I am able to. I socialize with friends most weekends, often hosting large gatherings.
There are days when the pain is so awful, I don’t know how I can possibly get out of bed. When all I want to do is join my husband or friends on the next adventure, but my body just won’t let me. When I struggle all day to do a task that someone else finds simple. When I’m so exhausted, and so sick of it all, that I just want to curl up in a ball, cry my eyes out, and never move again. When the doctors give me news I don’t want to hear, or make it clear that they don’t hear me. When I find myself falling into the black hole of old Facebook photos of someone I used to be and things I used to do, and I can’t quite swim out and figure out who I am now. When my beloved hockey team loses a game, or I spill a drink all over myself, or I bump my car into poles trying to get into a parking spot, or my brain is so foggy that it takes me four tries to get everything together to leave the house, etc.
Chronic illness or not, sometimes you just have a bad day.
Friends and family who know what is going on with my health often ask me, “How do you stay so positive? How do you do it?” The truth is, positivity takes effort. It takes choosing to see the world in a certain way. When it comes time to get through a bad day, there are many strategies I use. Sometimes I can only manage one, and sometimes I can handle a bunch. Regardless, there are always ways to get through those rough patches. Here are some tips from the bad days I’ve overcome:
Recognize and accept your emotions and pain. It’s okay to not be okay.
Vent! Reach out! Whether it’s to someone you live with, a phone call, a text, or a post on the internet, let someone know how you’re feeling. Once you let it all out, try to move on rather than dwelling on it.
Try to figure out if you need sympathy or solutions, or a little bit of both; then communicate which one you are looking for. Sometimes I just need someone to listen and I’ll stubbornly turn down any recommendations to “fix” it. Other times, I need to hear someone else’s strategies for the issues that are getting me down, in hopes that I can find a solution
Ask for help. A task that seems impossible by yourself may become manageable with help.
Prioritize! Get rid of “should.” Is it something you absolutely need to do? Then find a way to get it done, even if that means modifying the task or delegating it to someone else.
Find a way to help others. Giving of yourself is the highest form of happiness. Maybe you can’t get out of bed, but you can call a grandparent and make their day. Or you can share your story with someone else in a similar situation. Maybe you can send a small donation to an organization you care about. Helping someone else will make you feel less of your own pain.
Move! Whether that means jogging around the block, a home yoga video, or wiggling your feet in bed, movement has so many incredible physical and emotional benefits.
Focus on the good. No matter how much went wrong today, something went right. It might be something as simple as having one packet left of your favorite tea when you thought you were out, or something so enormous but forgettable, like the fact that you woke up this morning. There is good in everything; sometimes, you just need to search harder for it.
Do something you love to do, no matter how small. Sing a song, watch those puppy videos, read or listen to a book. Paint a picture, write a poem, watch more puppy videos.
Get outdoors, or as close to outdoors as you safely can. Fresh air has incredible therapeutic benefits, and seeing more than your bedroom ceiling can remind you of all the good in the world.
When all else fails, just remember that with tomorrow comes a new day. That’s the beauty of tomorrow.
Hallie is a paediatric physical therapist and a former competitive gymnast. Whenever her doctors and body allow it, she loves practicing aerial acrobatics and posing in splits on mountains and beaches. You can usually find her tripping over her feet trying to pet all the dogs. She is an avid mystery/thriller reader, and a huge fan of the Washington Capitals. Hallie also happens to be dealing with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, multiple types of dysautonomia, IBS, PCOS, progressive scoliosis, …etc, but she tries not to let it get her down.