Caring on a Down Day

fd73f3e7d0f48dbe9dec361593df9e78Giving a shit ALL the time is exhausting! Let’s admit – it’s not humanly possible. And caring to the point of carrying guilt for “not doing enough” is worse than counterproductive. It’s cruel!

While some days feel like perfect 10s, others really are terrible 2s. And on down days we often feel like two-year-olds– selfish, pouty, and needy. I hate down days with a passion! But my strong disdain doesn’t make them go away. They pop up unexpectedly at the worst of times. And they cycle regularly, as all women can attest.

Down days are an unfortunate fact of life.

Doing well and doing right by others, means learning to take it all in stride. In order to be CHILL – we have to manage our energy levels, not just our time. Energy springs from physical and emotional wellbeing, including mind and spirit. Check out this great read from the HBR archives.

On down days, be vigilant to acknowledge and accept frailties, rather than attempting to power through. Here are ideas of ways to avoid being an asshole on your down days:

  • Observe the day, be inquisitive and open-minded before diving into action.
  • When you run into trouble, ask why first: “Is it really that bad?”
  • Address more routine tasks and try to tackle complex problems later, if you can.
  • Reschedule important meetings. Adjust your schedule to how you feel, as much as possible.
  • Stay active and get hands on: use your full body to engage in the work of the day, rather than just your mind.
  • Work out vigorously, even though you don’t feel like it. Go for a jog or try kickboxing (a fav for punching out frustrations!)
  • Remove “should” from your vocabulary altogether! There’s no such thing!
  • Don’t fall into the reward trap: seeking the comfort of food, shopping, or other vices is only temporary and can backfire.
  • Get organized! Write an active to-do list to focus your attention. One of my favorite online organization tools is
  • Get a good night’s sleep!
  • Listen to your favorite tunes. Joni Mitchell’s Blue is at the same time sad and soulful as it is playful and bright – the perfect recipe for acknowledging and uplifting the spirit.
  • Take it in! Breathe deeply! Pray! Meditate! Count to 10!
  • Hydrate and eat healthy, body nourishing foods.
  • Find a safe space and try a primal scream. Sometimes it helps to shout it out.
  • Go ahead and cry if you need to, it’s cool.
  • If you can muster it, write a list of things you’re grateful for, OR if it feels disingenuous – just write!
  • Call a family member, a friend, or talk things out with a trusted confidant.
  • Don’t complain, especially at work, it only makes things worse.
  • Try to keep a sense of humor about the day’s events. Watch a quick comedy sketch: George Carlin’s sardonic wit is ideal for down days!
  • Take it easy, in all manner of the phrase!
  • Wear your best clothes to feel as comfortable and confident as possible.
  • Try simple acts of kindness, yield to others and the world around you: smile to a stranger, hold the door open, let a car merge ahead of you, etc.
  • Just slow down! And know that by doing so, you’re reserving energy for another day!

You, yes YOU, are the only one who can fill your punchbowl. Everyone else tends to suck out the punch!punchbowlSo, on down days exercise extreme self-compassion and a bit of caution. Please don’t try to do it all. Perfect is the enemy of very good!

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