How to Recover After
a Rough Day 

We’ve all had “one of those days.”

Not every day can be our best. Work stress, family problems, and a hectic lifestyle may leave you wondering how to recover after a long day.


Lately, many of us feel especially bombarded by bad news, stressful interactions, and the weight of the disruption of our norms. It may seem those rough days are more frequent over the last few months.

After a rough day, it may feel like the whole world is against us. We may feel angry, sad, and irritable. We may feel like crying. Many of us try to fight the bad day blues by choosing to zonk out on the couch with a movie or going to our phones for shopping or social media. Maybe we eat a pint of ice cream. In most cases, these actions only end up making us feel worse.

So what should we do instead if we’re trying to feel better? What’s the key to help us learn how to recover after a rough day? Is there a quick fix, or does it take time to recover from a bad day?

What is Going On Beneath Our Bad Day?

One commonly searched phrase right now is “shitty day.” It seems that many people are having a tough time, and with the current unrest, there are times when the world feels stifling and overwhelming.

But even in the times before COVID-19 disrupted our lives, we all experienced bad days. Everyone has had a rough day when nothing seemed to go right for us. When we were kids, we may have heard someone say we “woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” Some days feel off.

So if we’re having a rough day, the first thing we should ask ourselves is, “What’s going on?” Look at the day. What about the day is “shitty”? Are we frustrated or overwhelmed? Did one interaction or situation set us off? Are we tired? Hungry? What is causing the day to feel so crummy?

Each day has a series of moments. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. So we can break it down with a little perspective. Were there a few minutes that ruined the other 1,435 minutes? Can we still salvage the rest before we write off the day?

That’s said with a tongue-in-cheek. Of course, there are days when genuinely terrible things happen to us. We lose our job, a family member is sick, we get in an accident, or our pet dies. Those days are awful. We can’t (and shouldn’t) dismiss our sadness, hurt, anger, or fear that arises during a tragedy.

But most rough days are quickly recoverable. We may have heard people say, “Remember, you’ve survived 100% of your bad days before.” It can help us to get some perspective. Many days are rough, depending on how we deal with tough situations. Once we define what was truly challenging about the day, we can start to break out of our potentially negative line of thinking.

When we think everything sucks, everything will suck. Once we get pessimistic, we go down a rabbit hole. Suddenly the whole day and every situation feel insurmountable. On the other hand, if we pinpoint what happened in the day that was bad, we can look at other aspects of the day as well. Was there anything good in there that we can tease out?

“Well, my boss got frustrated with my mistake and chewed me out. BUT I did figure out a way to fix the problem after, and I’ve learned from the mistake. I finished with work, and there was a huge pile of laundry, but I managed to tackle it. I reached out to a friend, vented, and now I feel better.”

Look at precisely what made the day rough and see if there were at least a few redeemable moments.

Identify Your Real Feelings

One way we can recover from a rough day is to identify our underlying feelings. We often tell students that we can “name it to tame it.” When we name our emotions, they often feel less confusing and overwhelming.

We can take an example from young kids. When they have a terrible moment, they almost instantly feel a range of emotions—they might get angry, cry, or feel upset. But then they get it out and feel better. It’s the emotions we don’t let out and express that eat us up and make us feel crappy.

We can start by asking ourselves, “What happened, and how do I feel about it?” Look at where the feeling is in our bodies. Is it in our chest? Are we feeling it in our stomachs? Does our jaw feel tense? Are our fists balled up? Looking at our physical reaction can help us pinpoint exactly what it is we’re experiencing.

Whatever emotion we’re experiencing—fear, hurt, sadness, anger, or even joy (not as likely on a rough day)—we can remind ourselves that it’s valid and okay. Our feelings are never wrong or bad. We’re allowed to feel however we feel.

We can also look at what we really wanted from the situation. Each of us has deep longings, or as we call them, “yearnings.” Our yearnings drive us. These are significant universal desires. We may yearn to be loved. We may yearn to be respected. Maybe we yearn for security.

Often when our yearnings are denied, we feel emotional. We may feel angry because we didn’t fill our yearning for respect. We may feel fear because our partner is upset with us, and we yearn to feel affirmed. Our yearnings are extremely powerful, and we’re driven to get them met. When our yearnings are overlooked or thwarted, we often feel hurt, frightened, and even angry.

Reframe your experience to identify the underlying yearning. What are we really yearning for right now? We can ask ourselves, what would make me feel optimistic about this situation? Are there other ways I could look at this?

Everyone has bad days, but we all have the power to talk to ourselves about the day differently. When we think we’re the victims of circumstance, or we have no power, that’s when we may despair. We look at the day and feel helpless, hopeless, and out of control, but we really have much more control than we may realize.

What Can We Do Differently?

As we reframe our bad day, look at what we can do. Is there something we can do differently? Is there a new way of looking at the situation?

A fight with a friend becomes an opportunity to express our feelings and work out frustrations. A critique from our boss becomes a chance to learn a different approach, grow in our career, or learn to stand up for ourselves.

What we shouldn’t do after a bad day is to engage in a “pity party.” We’ve all had those moments where we feed into our sadness and melodrama. We sit on the couch, listen to sad music, and scroll through our ex’s profile on social media. Or we tell ourselves that we’re powerless and there’s nothing we can do.

The best way to deal with a bad day is to identify what was terrible and see what we can do differently. In every situation, we can learn something. We always have the opportunity to rebound. Even when we’re in a negative space, and it’s hard to see the lesson, we can examine our reaction. How could we be dealing with this situation differently? What do we need to get through? Do we need more emotional support, and can we reach out? Do we need more training or certain skills? How can we take steps now to change the situation?

Find New Coping Strategies

Right now, bad days feel worse because we don’t have our usual coping strategies in place. We can’t go out with friends after work to blow off steam. In some cases, we can’t even go to the gym, the library, a coffee shop, or any other places that help us connect with others.

But if we want to boost our mood and feel better about a rough day, we should keep and foster the connections available to us. That means, attend that Zoom party or take the virtual class we’ve been considering. Call a friend and connect with voices rather than texts.

When the opportunities arise to get some face time with others, whether it’s a brief, distanced interaction or a virtual meeting, make the most of it! We can really challenge ourselves to engage, share, and connect. Make eye contact, ask meaningful questions, push the moments to get a little more out of the situation.

Similarly, when we have a joyous moment, really soak it in! Jot down those compliments and save the nice emails and texts we get from family, coworkers, and friends. We can take a few moments after a great phone call with a friend to really savor the experience.

We’ll also find comfort if we practice self-compassion. Use positive self-talk to remind ourselves we’ve got this. We can address ourselves by name and reassure ourselves just as we would with a good friend.

One helpful tip is to write down insights and tactics we find nourishing or helpful. Jot down ways we adapt our typical coping mechanisms to fit the new situation. As the list builds, we have a go-to resource of things we can do to recover after a rough day.

Remember, we are all strong and resilient. We will make it through these challenging times to emerge stronger and even more capable than before. Even if today is rough, we can use it as an opportunity to hit the “reset” button and move forward with hope.

For more ways to connect with your true feelings and live a fully realized life, visit Wright Now. We offer an array of courses geared to help you learn more about yourself, your career, and your relationships. So don’t miss out on the life you want. Get it now!

Is Anxiety an Emotion? How to Overcome Feelings of Stress and Fear

How can we overcome feelings of stress and fear when everything feels so uncertain right now?


Right now, many of us are feeling a barrage of different emotions. We may feel sadness one minute and then anger the next. We may even feel happiness and joy, especially as we’re spending time with our loved ones and enjoying nurturing activities at home (and we may feel guilty about feeling good when the world is struggling).

But one emotion is overriding much of our experience over the last several months is fear.

For many of us, fear is one of the biggest struggles of the Coronavirus pandemic. We’re feeling fear of the future, concerns about our health, and the fear of the unknown. With so much ambiguity and uncertainty right now, many of us feel our anxiety bubbling up. We may wonder if anxiety is an emotion and how we can get those feelings of fear under control.

Understanding Fear and Anxiety

Anxiety is unfocused fear. Anxiety is fear that doesn’t have anything to attach itself to. It’s often unfounded or untethered, but that doesn’t mean fear—and even anxiety—is “bad” or wrong.

Fear is part of being a human being. Part of our experience right now is evolutionarily built into who we are. If we went back in time to the beginning of humankind, we’d see that the world was perilous. Around every corner, there were predators. We had to struggle to find food. The world was fraught with famine and disease. The very existence of humanity was a struggle.

For early humans, dangers weren’t minor. A tiger could attack at any time. Something as seemingly innocuous as a foot injury could mean imminent death. Eating the wrong plant could kill you immediately.

It was in this sea of uncertainty that our primitive brains and bodies were developed. Our ancestors were those who stayed alive. It was those who had the ability to be anxious—to continually scan for and respond to threats—who survived to later evolve into us. Those without anxiety, who were laidback and indifferent to threats, didn’t make it. Fear and anxiety are built into our existence.

Today, despite the current climate of fear we’re experiencing, our lives are relatively safe compared to those of our ancestors. We don’t need to worry about tigers. If we stub our toe, we can go to the doctor to have it examined. Antibiotics and modern medicine assure that most minor injuries won’t kill us.

But even when life is going smoothly, there’s a sense of unease and a need to stay vigilant. Some of us have a stronger sense of fear and worry than others. We’re more attuned to unrest and feel more displaced by uncertainty.

Now that we have the very real threats of COVID-19, job uncertainty, civil unrest, and more, our fears aren’t staying in the background. They’re right at the forefront of our minds as we face uncertainty. We may feel on-guard, on-edge, and like we’re always in fight or flight mode.

We Prefer the Familiar

Our brains prefer familiarity. We gravitate toward routine and consistency. We like to know what to expect, and many of us unconsciously or consciously, structure our lives to avoid ambiguity. Even those who know the importance of embracing new experiences and getting out of our comfort zone feel derailed in the current climate.

Nothing is as expected right now. We don’t know what’s going to happen. This is a novel virus and a novel experience. Most of us have never lived through a global pandemic. Even the very few 102-year-olds who survived the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak certainly don’t remember it today. This experience is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

So, of course, we feel anxious; it’s part of being human right now. It’s not wrong that we’re anxious or fearful.

Existentialists talk about anxiety, not as a bad thing, but as part of living and being. It’s a piece of humanity. But there’s always a choice for us. We can steer our path toward the familiar and comfortable, or we can learn to take a risk.

When we stick with the familiar, we may experience a feeling referred to as ontological guilt—the feeling we didn’t make the best choice, or we missed out on the road less traveled.

At the same time, by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, we do experience some existential anxiety. Fortunately, we can tap into that anxiety and flip it into excitement. Both anxiety and excitement produce adrenaline. We get a rush of adrenaline before we get on a roller coaster or right before we step off a plane. It’s the thrill of discovering something new and previously unknown.

Now, it may seem counterintuitive to think we can turn our fears about a pandemic or worry about losing our job into joy, or even a thrill (most of us don’t want THAT kind of excitement in our lives). But there is a thrill and even excitement when we’re able to do something difficult—when we solve a problem and discover our inner sense of resilience.

When we’re worried about our job, what if we explore the new career possibilities open to us, and reframe this time as an opportunity to take stock of what’s satisfying and what’s dissatisfying about our job situation? Or what if we look at the positives that have come from spending more time with our partner, our children, or appreciating the time we get to spend with friends?

It may seem hard to find the positives or the silver lining right now (and it’s perfectly okay NOT to feel okay). But we can also look back at our strength, our will to survive, and our will to fight, and use it to reframe the sense of dread and despair.

Is All Stress Negative?

We see and hear everyone discuss the negatives of stress. We’ve all heard, “I’m so stressed out!” or “Ways to avoid stress,” “It’s time to destress,” or “Enjoy a stress-free experience.”

In most cases, we’ve learned to avoid stress at all costs. Stress is bad. Stress is well, stressful, right?

The real issue isn’t so much the levels of stress in our life, but it’s what we think stress means. To some, stress can spell doom and gloom. It can mean our whole world is falling apart. But there’s also eustress. Eustress is good stress. It helps us to create, to solve problems, to operate at our best level. If we’re bored or unstimulated, it may be because we’re missing some of that good stress in our lives. Eustress helps us grow and become strong.

Now, too much stress becomes paralyzing. When we’re overwhelmed and letting our thoughts spiral, we’re leaning into the tension. If we view the stress as a problem and a negative situation that’s permeating our existence, then that’s what it becomes. But if we look at a challenge as an opportunity to solve problems, then we experience positive effects.

What if we reframe our stress? Rather than thinking stress means “Game Over,” what if we think of it as “Game On”? We can use that stress to motivate us.

The real purpose of fear and stress IS to motivate us. In the days of our ancestors, stress pushed them to get away from the tiger. Fear pushed them to avoid hunger, to proceed with caution, to become aware of their surroundings.

When we feel fear, it’s a powerful sign that there’s something we need to deal with, not freeze from. We may need to seek security, support, or resources. The situation may require someone to help us navigate, but we can identify it and use it to propel us toward seeking a solution.

In the moment, we may feel stuck. There’s a tendency to numb ourselves, to “panic scroll” on our phones, reading the news, and feeling almost paralyzed with fear and stress. But numbing doesn’t help us deal with it. It doesn’t get rid of the fear or the stress, it may temporarily push it off, but it’s still there in the background.

Instead, what if we address our feelings and bring ourselves back to the moment. “Right now, in this moment, I’m okay. I’m feeling afraid of the future. I’m worried about what’s going on in the world, but right now, I’m okay.”

Some people allow themselves five minutes to indulge in fear and anxiety—to really feel it and let all those stressful feelings flow. Then they put a time limit on it, and once that’s up, it’s time to move back to the present moment.

How do we bring ourselves back? One of the best tricks is to use grounding techniques. Tap into your senses. What can you see? What can you hear? Some folks like to find five things they see, five sounds they hear, five scents, five tastes, five textures they feel.

For example, feel the chair against your back. Feel the breeze from the window on your arm. Is there a cup of coffee near you? Inhale the scent of the coffee beans. Feel the warmth from the container on your hands. Let the steam waft up towards your face. Really think of what’s going on around you. Can you hear the gentle sound of the fan in your room? Maybe you can hear some cars driving by in the distance.

These sensory moments can help bring us back from the brink of panic and fear and help us identify with the moment. In these times of uncertainty, it’s really important to be good and kind to ourselves. If you’re feeling fear or anxiety, don’t feel bad. Give yourself space, allow yourself to feel your feelings, and experience them.

Self-care and self-compassion are always important, but right now, they’re especially critical. Nurturing yourself, caring for yourself, and being kind to yourself are essential actions right now. Kindness is something we can all bring into our lives and the world around us.

We will make it through this time of uncertainty and turmoil and emerge stronger. We will learn and grow from the stress and come out more beautiful, more resilient, and wiser than ever before.


Dealing with Decision Fatigue and Brain Fog During the Pandemic

Do you feel like your brain has “checked out”?


Are you experiencing brain fog lately? Decision fatigue and fuzziness are common during stressful times; here's why.

“I can’t think!”

“I feel like I’m in a brain fog.”

“I just can’t make any decisions—everything feels overwhelming right now.”

Have you caught yourself saying any of these statements lately? You’re not alone! During the last few months, we’ve all been dealing with many changes, stress, and confusion. Our brains are in overdrive, and many of us are starting to feel like we’re losing our minds.

Maybe our performance at work has declined. Perhaps we’re finding it tough to focus or challenging to stay on task. When we’re experiencing brain fog and decision fatigue, almost any job can feel overwhelming and hard to tackle. If you feel like your performance has been off track, here’s why it’s happening and what you can do about it!

Why Brain Fog Happens

Brain fog, confusion, discombobulation…call it what you will, but it’s essentially when our brains go offline. We can’t think. We may find ourselves forgetting what we were doing, losing focus, or getting easily distracted.

It seems many friends and colleagues lately are all experiencing a similar “mental block.” There have also been several recent articles highlighting what experts call decision fatigue. This common phenomenon is especially prevalent in times of stress (like we are all experiencing right now). It seems that brain fog has become an unforeseen side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, even if you don’t contract the virus.

So why does this frustrating phenomenon happen? Why do our brains feel so dull and addled lately?

We’re faced with new situations on a nearly daily basis—is it safe to go to a family reunion? How will I juggle virtual school? Should I focus on contacting new leads at work or keeping up with my existing clients struggling to pay?

Our decision-making takes place in the area of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex. We may have heard that this area is responsible for “higher-level thinking” or executive functioning. In that part of our brains, we’re weighing out the risks, trying to predict what will happen as we move forward, based on experience. Our brain is a predictive organ—it feels comfortable putting situations in context and applying a similar response, expecting a similar outcome.

But we’re faced with a completely new situation. None of us have lived through a global pandemic like this before. It’s an unprecedented time, and it’s fraught with ambiguity and uncertainty. Not only does this mean we’re on guard, engaging the more primitive part of our brain that turns on our fight or flight response—the limbic system—but we’re also taking a lot of our mental and physical energy to process all of this brain function.

On top of our brains running in “overdrive mode” and throwing us into decision fatigue, we can’t implement our regular coping mechanisms. It seems there’s no escape to the usual activities that nourish us and help us bounce back from tough times.

In pre-COVID-19 life, we dealt with stressful situations by visiting a friend, grabbing coffee with a coworker, or visiting a parent. We also went to movies, attended concerts, and enjoyed theater productions. We enjoyed sports and spent time at the beach. Many of these activities aren’t possible at all or are significantly modified in this new normal. The disruption of our norms further compounds our confusion and stress.

So how do we manage? How do we cope with this brain fog and decision fatigue?

Give Self-Compassion

One of the most important things we can offer ourselves right now is self-compassion. For each of us, no matter our situation or circumstance, self-compassion is more crucial than ever to our wellbeing.

Now, self-compassion doesn’t necessarily mean a spa day, which might not be feasible at the moment. It doesn’t mean taking a vacation or eating a pint of ice cream in our PJs. We can practice self-compassion throughout our day in almost every situation. We can speak kindly to ourselves and give ourselves a break rather than beating ourselves up for mistakes.

Understanding that brain fog and decision fatigue is a natural, normal phenomenon we’re all experiencing right now may give us pause when we think, “I’m such an idiot!” Would we ever speak to our friends that way if they forgot an appointment or missed the mark? Of course not! Realizing we’re sharing a common disaster can help us have a little more compassion for ourselves. Recognize that what’s going on isn’t something “wrong with us.” This is part of dealing with the stress of the pandemic and current events.

We can speak to ourselves like a friend and even pause to give ourselves comfort. Put our hand over our hearts, and address ourselves by name, saying, “Everything is going to be okay. You are processing a lot of difficult thoughts right now, and you’re doing the best you can.” Touching our hearts or giving ourselves a brief scalp massage can help us soothe ourselves and raise those critical levels of oxytocin—the brain’s feel-good chemical. Soothing activities stimulate our vagus nerve, which calms us.

Practice Mindfulness

Another way to cope with brain fog is to avoid rumination. That means, stop the “doomsday scrolling,” where we focus on the news constantly and follow each distraction. Instead, come back to the present as much as possible.

Because things are uncertain, decision fatigue is prevalent. We only have so many resources in our frontal lobe to make decisions. We get tired and quickly use up our energy. So, our brain activity wanders off to where we don’t need to be super “conscious” of our activities.

Think of it this way—if we took a very challenging math test, we would have to focus on the test. After the test, if we were offered an apple or a piece of chocolate cake, we would be much more likely to choose the cake. Why? Because it required all our willpower to focus on the math test, and we’re left without the energy to make good choices. Then, because we have a sugar crash, we get even foggier. When we aren’t making clear, good choices, we need to “reboot” our brains.

If we recognize we need to reboot, we can engage in activities to bring us present to the current moment.

Take a deep breath. Touch our face with our hands. Put a hand on our heart, a hand on our tummy. When we do this, it brings us back to the present moment and stimulates our parasympathetic nerve system, bringing us a sense of calm and peace.

We can also practice mindfulness by grounding ourselves. Feel the floor beneath our feet. Identify what we can smell, what we can feel, see, hear, and even taste. Some find it useful to identify two or three of each sensory trigger. This helps us come back to the room and realize that we are okay at the present moment.

Honor Emotions

In our classes at the Wright Foundation, we often discuss the importance of our emotions. We’re fond of the saying, “Name it to tame it.” When we’re unsure what we’re feeling or feeling out-of-control, acknowledging our emotions can help us process them and really feel them.

Many of us may find ourselves avoiding our emotions right now. We’re trying to stay strong for our kids. We’re trying to brush off our irritation with our spouse. We may find ourselves feeling sad about parents we can’t see, family members who are ill, or friends who are suffering.

It’s okay to feel a wide range of emotions right now. Every emotion is essential, from fear to sadness, hurt to anger. We may even feel joy. Perhaps we enjoy staying home and spending more time with our spouse, but we feel a little guilty when everyone else is suffering. There’s no wrong or right way to feel right now. We don’t need to feel bad if our job is continuing to thrive, our kids love online school, or we’re soaking up the extra time with our partner.

Acknowledging our emotions, good, bad, and in-between, is essential. If we aren’t sure what we’re feeling, our body can offer clues. Tension may appear as a heaviness in the chest or shortness of breath—meaning maybe you feel anger, sadness, or fear. We may find that our jaw hurts, our limbs feel tired, or we have a headache. Ask about the root cause. Is there an emotional component?

Go ahead and feel emotions fully. Cry! Laugh! Yell! This is a new situation for all of us, and there’s no wrong or right way to feel about it.

Engage in Nourishing Activities

To combat brain fog, we need nourishment. We should get plenty of rest, eat healthy, nourishing foods, and find time to get outdoors. A simple walk or bike ride in the park can help us feel renewed and refocused. It’s all about finding activities that elevate us and help us reconnect with ourselves.

Some of us may find that listening to an uplifting or relaxing piece of music, reading a great book, journaling, or drawing can help us feel refreshed and renewed. Learning gives us a sense of purpose, so consider taking a course online or participating in a webinar. Our foundation is offering access to an array of courses and webinars right now online. Explore the options because so many of them are crucial to meet this moment.

When we take time for nourishment and self-compassion, we bring our thoughts back online and feel refreshed. Rather than engaging in timewasters like online shopping, Netflix binging, or reading the comment section on social media, find activities that bring joy and a sense of purpose.

It’s also important to remember that even if we’re socially distanced, we can still find ways to connect with our loved ones. Reach out to friends and family online or pick up the phone for a call. Many of us are struggling during this time, and it’s those critical social connections that can help us break through the brain fog and foster a sense of wellbeing.

Most importantly, don’t be too self-critical over a “foggy brain.” We’re all experiencing this commonality because this past year has been a new experience for each of us. There’s no wrong or right way to deal with such extraordinary circumstances. Continue to practice self-compassion and kindness. It may take some time before we adjust to this new normal, and that’s perfectly okay.

If you’re working through feelings of brain fog right now, reach out. We have many resources and events that can help you connect with others and feel less alone. We’re all in this time together, and we’re here to help each other make it, though, not only to survive but to thrive.