How to Turn Around a Bad Day

While no one thing has gone wrong, I’ve had some pretty bad days stacked on top of each other the past week or so. After being sick and knocked off my feet at the beginning of last week, it just felt really difficult to get back into the groove. Add in some more-than-usual stress, both personal and work, and I was sliding down a slippery slope of sadness.

I know myself well enough to know that I get like this occasionally, and I know that the tides will turn, but it doesn’t change the fact that it sucks being “in the soup.” Not only that, but it feeds on itself. I’m feeling sad, and then I’m mad at myself for feeling sad, and then I feel sadder… and then I get mad for feeling sadder. And the next thing you know, I’m on the couch not wanting to do anything, much less move.

Needless to say, it was a rough, rough week internally for me!

That’s the other thing; I can turn it “on” when I really need to, like going on television. Plus, I’m r good at sweeping things under the rug and pretending like, you know, it’s business as usual even when it’s totally not.

But what can you do to get out of a bad day? To pull yourself out of the funk?

How to turn around a bad day

ONE // Set a timeline

I actually think it’s okay to be sad, for a designated amount of time. If you’re sad, it’s probably because you’re working through something, even if you can’t quite put your finger on it. Use it as a quick time-out, a pause, or a click of a reset button. If you’re anything like me, you have a tendency to go full speed ahead for weeks on end, and then you run out of fuel and exhaust yourself. (Probably my worst habit right now.) When I’m not feeling good mentally, I’ll give myself a morning or an afternoon, with an alarm, to just steep. Lights off, under the covers, terrible movie on Netflix.

Sometimes I can’t even do it that day, and I’ll “schedule” it for a weekend day. It’s great if by the time I get there I’m back to my usual self, and I can skip it, but if I need it, it’s there for me to use it.

The trick is to ensure that you commit to the designated time and then know it’s time to pull yourself back up by the bootstraps.

TWO // Take a shower, get dressed, and put on makeup

This is the biggest thing for me. Showering and putting any kind of effort into my appearance is generally the first thing to go. I have no energy, or frankly desire, to even deal with showering, shaving, blow drying, or contouring. (Not that I’ve ever contoured before, but you know what I mean!) Because it’s the first thing to go, I have to force myself just to get up and do it.

To be completely transparent here, it’s so much easier said than done, though. Sometimes I can’t just suck it up, and the bed’s gravitational pull mixed with my sadness is just going to be too much. But I try. I psych myself up. I take it one step at a time, literally, from the bed to the bathroom.

Once I can get myself to the point of stepping into the shower, I almost immediately feel at the very least a tiny bit better. It can feel like a victory on its own.

THREE // Confirm a commitment

Even though I don’t feel like doing anything now, it can mentally help to remind yourself that it’s temporary. (Because sometimes it doesn’t feel temporary even if you know it is.) So I try to put something on the calendar a week or so out. Maybe I reach out to someone that I’d like to work with in the future or schedule a follow-up call. I try to keep the commitment positive and productive. (Like I wouldn’t schedule a meeting with my accountant, sorry guys… or something frivolously fun like a concert.)

FOUR // Talk it out

Another one of my habits: keeping everything bottled up. I am so thankful for the couple of friends that I can call to talk about anything, whether it’s venting or brainstorming or just talking it out. Try the phone or Skype over a text, but texting can work in a pinch. I find that with texting it’s too easy to overthink and rewrite what you’re trying to say– which is really what you’re trying to process. Whereas talking out loud and having a legit conversation is going get you through your thoughts better and more thoroughly, even if it’s a bit messier at the beginning.

FIVE // Do something you truly enjoy

Kind of self-explanatory, but if nothing else is working (and even if it is) give yourself permission to do something you really love. Screw your to-do list for a minute here and take the time to do something you want to do. See the movie you’ve been dying to watch, catch up on your guilty-pleasure television show, sign up for $40 spin class you’re obsessed with but never want to pay for, get a blowout, book a massage, sit in a park doing absolutely nothing.

I always try to ask myself, “what would I do if I didn’t have to do XYZ? What would get me excited?” Sometimes taking on small step, even if it’s unrelated to what you need to do, will help you get back on your feet.

SIX // Say some positive affirmations & gratitude for the good things

I call them “bad tapes,” but when I get sad, I start to have the same repetitive totally negative and sabotaging conversations in my head. I fixate on them because it’s like they’re playing on repeat! While I may not be totally perfect at it, I try my best to rewrite those bad tapes. I actively try to say something positive and focus on the things I should be grateful for. Like this past week, I was feeling really sad, but kept reminding myself how awesome it was that I was in a magazine and that I was on live television for the first time! I almost let my sadness overshadow the fact that there was plenty of things to be excited and happy about.

What do you do to turn around a bad day?

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We’ve all been there before, I’m sure.

For me I do the following:
Meditation for 20 minutes broken down into 10 in the am and 10 in the pm.
Take a yoga class.
Unplug from Social Media, turn off my phone and head out for walk or hike.
If nothing else, a good bubble bath with a good book!

Thanks for the honesty of this post and sharing your tips.


These are all great tips! I get in such a bored, restless slump at my office in the afternoon sometimes and start spiraling. So I have started closing my door and doing 5 mins of yoga when I need a mental boost, and it has helped a ton! Kind of hard in some outfits, but I make it work, haha.


When I’m sad, I take my dog for a walk or literally go to a dog park and just SIT THERE. Watching the dogs. What can I say, seeing dogs so happy and free makes me happy. You brought up some great things I’ve never thought of though… like still laying in bed, but just scheduling a productive commitment for the future, rather than trying to do it in that sad moment. Great post!

Danielle @ afloat on a full sea


Chocolate really helps to lift my spirits! My personal favorite is a decadent chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting of course.

Grace Atwood

Aw Carly, I hope things turn around – I feel like it’s been an off week, so many of my friends have been down in the dumps/in a rut!! I am a big fan of number 1 as well… setting a limit really helps. Also, snuggling a pet, buying flowers, and eating something really delicious!!!


I swear by exercise. Although knowing myself it has to be something group related. Going for a run by myself (which I normally LOVE) will not help me when I am in a funk because I just spend the whole time being anxious. I schedule a class (yoga, soulcycle, boxing) and just make sure to get there. Once I am talking to people and I am breaking a sweat things seem to get better. Anxiety is one tricky beast!


Bah! I forgot to include that!!!! I’ve been practicing tennis and doing tennis lessons and it really helps!


The biggest one for me is always to just get OUT of the house! I spent the last couple months prepping for a big exam and I’d spend 8-12 hours alone in my house studying. Between the pressure and the isolation I was miserable. Just getting dressed, putting on some makeup, and going out (even if it was just to the grocery store) helped so much to get out of the funk.


That’s definitely a factor for me since I work from home– luckily I have the dogs so it forces me to get out of the house for multiple walks and trips to the dog park!


This is a great post! Falling into a funk happens to all of us, but we rarely talk about it – thank you for sharing!

One thing I’ve found helpful lately are adult coloring books. You can totally zone out with music/podcast/cheesy movie in the background. I also find that I concentrate enough on the coloring that I completely distract myself from my problems for an hour and a half.


I haven’t posted here before, but I’m a mom of a college student, and just wanted to say that sometimes, when you find yourself sad for a lot of days which turn into weeks, it can be a good idea to find help, like a therapist.

Whether you’re in college, or in your first job, or down the road after a few years. There are times when you can’t just pull yourself out of your funk with a day at the beach or a blowout, and there is no shame in getting help. We also sometimes don’t realize that we are caught in a downward spiral.

The same way we go for professional help for that mani-pedi or blowout, or to the doctor for a serious physical health concern, we need to learn that we have to take care of our mental health the same way. I think this is especially vital for young women, because we internalize so much about multitasking, taking on many responsibilities, never saying no to various opportunities, to never “complain”. But you can’t do everything, and you can’t always do things on your own. Learning to ask for help can be a lifesaver — I know : ) .

I’ve been trying to teach my daughter about this now that she’s at college, and I hope this message can help others. Best wishes.


Well written post Carly! I have the same little ruts a few times a year and I totally know how hard it can be to see the ending when you really hit the bottom. But these tips are also things that I find help me out. Thanks for sharing something that feels more personal, it’s comforting when you’re down to know you’re not the only one 🙂

Jennifer @SimplePureWhole Wellness

I can totally relate to many of these “stuck” habits. I agree it can be so helpful to acknowledge and allow yourself some time to just be sad or angry or whatever you are feeling. So often, we feel pressure to pretend to be okay and then things just spiral. Thanks for being so open and for the great tips!

Erin Frye

Hi Carly!

I love that you write openly about anxiety issues. I’ve got them myself and read the “Badass” book that you reviewed recently after listening to it on audiobook. That has helped A LOT.

Also, have you heard of the app “Headspace”? It’s been recommended HIGHLY by a bunch of my friends (…and endorsed by Emma Watson, hello) as a great way to learn how to meditate and I recently downloaded it. You should give it a try too!

Your other tips are also wonderful. 🙂 Head up! You’re amazing!




I 100% feel you on all of these. Sometimes it’s seriously just so hard to get up and take a shower when you’re feeling down, even though you know you’ll feel better once you do. I love the idea of setting a time limit for yourself or scheduling in some “sad” time!

Katie Sullivan

Thank you so much for this post. It could not have come at a better time. I’ve been having a difficult time lately with getting myself through school everyday and reading this gives me motivation to do more for myself and not get down on the things I’m having trouble accomplishing. While I knew a few of these tips already, reading it today is so helpful. Thank you


Sometimes we really do just have a bad day. Other times though, when those bad days are multiple and then will come back again… It can be something more.

Depression is incredibly common and nothing shameful. Seeing a therapist could be incredibly helpful for the readers who are possibly nodding their head in agreement saying “Me too!”. Those slumps of sadness that stay for awhile and then will come back are usually one of the first warning signs that someone may be suffering from depression.


These are great tips! I totally agree with taking a shower and doing a little self care to distract yourself. Some of my worst days result in a great home blowout or self-inflicted mani/pedi. One other thing I like to do is to “give myself in fantasy what I can’t give myself in reality”. I started a (private) Pinterest board where I pin things that just are over the top ridiculous that make me smile. Shirtless Bradley Cooper, French Bulldog Puppies, ALL the doughnuts, sassy quotes about punching people in the face. It seems silly, but it is a great coping skill.

Maria Fernanda

Carly, I can totally relate, thanks for sharing both the ups and downs and always being authentic.Hope you feel better and thanks for the great tips, bookmarking it.


This is a helpful post 🙂 As someone who suffers from anxiety, I find it helpful to actually write about it throughout my blog and try to help others. I definitely agree that getting up & ready really helps. I also find that writing down positive facts about myself/life is useful so that I can re-read when I’m having a pretty down day. Thanks for sharing!
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