We all have them. They are part of life. It’s perfectly OK to have bad days, no one is ever going to think less of you for it. But how we cope with them is really important.
I know as a student, and as TAs, we have bad days. We have hard days. We have exhausting days. This can be a tough job, as challenging and tiring and it is rewarding and fulfilling. Throw a course on top of those challenging days, and it can feel like too much.
So I wanted to share with you some of the things I did last week that really helped me, so that next time you’re having a bad day they might help you.
Getting outdoors– I find leaving my desk, even for 10 minutes, and going outside really helps. It’s not always easy when it’s cold and dark, but looking at the sky can really help clear your mind. Whether it’s going out in to the playground, or having a quick walk around the block it can really help.
Tea– Tea is my comfort drink, it instantly makes me feel better. I also find the 5 minutes to make my tea a good break. We can’t leave the classroom to go and make a drink, but perhaps finding something similar before or after school, or at lunchtime, could be a big help.
Write it down– when I’m feeling overwhelmed by anything (and I mean anything), I do what I call a “mind dump” and I write down all my thoughts. This may be in an organised list, or it may just be scribbles all over a piece of paper, but the act of emptying my head instantly makes me feel better. I usually then come back to what I’ve written later on to form the basis of some task lists, which I then prioritise.
Talk it out– I’m very lucky in that I have a wonderful group of people around me, both at home and at work. If ever I have a problem, I know there’s someone who will listen to me and talk through it with me. A problem shared is a problem halved after all! Talking to your teacher, colleagues or your partner can really alleviate stress – even if you don’t find a solution to it, at least it’s out in the open.
Exercise– this is a big one for me. As horrible as it may seem in the rain and the cold and the dark, nothing clears my head like going for a run. If I don’t have time for a run, a 10 minute yoga for dummies session on YouTube always works too!
Don’t punish yourself – I think it’s really important to be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break. To tell yourself it’s OK to have a bad day, and not feel 100% all the time. I strongly believe that we can’t control our emotions, so we shouldn’t feel bad for them – what we can control however, is how we react to those emotions so this is where we should focus our energy.
Reflect – we often sweep bad days under the rug, and it is important to move on and to start fresh the next day. But when a few days have past, it can be beneficial to reflect and wonder why you had a bad day, and how you made yourself feel better – what do you need to avoid or do in the future to prevent bad days, and if you do have one, how can you improve things?
One of the key themes here is taking time for yourself. I know not everyone has the luxury of being able to take an hour or so to focus on ourselves, but I cannot stress the importance of this enough. So many studies have been done showing the importance of self-care. Over the next week, every day try and do something to be kind to yourself, and help avoid those bad days!