How to Cope With a Bad Day at Work

How to Cope With a Bad Day at Work

By Fahd Pasha


So you’re having a bad day at work? I’ve had one. My boss has had one. It’s fair to assume, people who’ve been in the workplace for a while have experienced “one of those days.” Maybe your commute to work got delayed and you missed an important meeting. Or you feel overwhelmed by your forever growing to-do list. Or you see your favourite colleague is transferring to a branch across the country. There are endless reasons someone might be having a bad day at work. Nothing is going your way and you just want to give up.

As someone who has just started their career (and with first-hand experience of the above), I’ve come to learn that more often than not, circumstances are out of our control – which I admit, can be hard to bounce back from.

However, it’s important to take some steps to stop your day from going bad to worse and letting it affect your work life. With that in mind, rather than doing or saying something that may land you in hot water, here are a few techniques I’ve learned that could help you cope with a bad day at work.


Shake it off

In the words of Taylor Swift – however frustrating your day is getting – you just have to “shake it off”.

Personally, I like to step outside (weather permitting), put my headphones on and go for a walk. It’s incredible what a fresh breeze and walking can do for your state of mind, as it immediately removes you from the situation that’s frustrating you. It can be reinvigorating and a great way to refocus.

Ever wonder why employers often look for a candidate with a positive attitude? Because bad days are inevitable and it’s the top talent who brave through it all. Instead of replaying a situation over and over again, do your best to move on and not dwell in it. Think about what you’ve learned and how you can handle the situation better next time.


It might be time to laugh…or cry!

They say “laughter is the best medicine.” Medically speaking, when we laugh, our bodies are said to release endorphins and dopamine, the feel-good chemicals. As an end result, this can help us overcome anger and resentment, find a light at the end of the tunnel and look at things from a better perspective.

And while I admit, during the day laughing won’t be top of mind, in many instances for me, watching a quick YouTube video over a lunch break or a silly meme reminds me of the less serious and lighter things in life. Plus, let’s be honest, puppies can always brighten crappy days!

Crying on the other hand, can also be a good way to release tension and stress after a bad situation.

Dr. William Frey at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis discovered that emotional tears contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying. After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress.  Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones.” 


Do something to distract yourself

Have you ever scrolled through your Instagram feed and seen people zip-lining or bungee-jumping – then come out of it screaming with pure disbelief and smiles? As soon as they face these activities head-on, life becomes less scary. Granted, while we’re not all able to do such adventurous activities after a lousy day at work, doing something simple as cooking your favourite meal or brushing up on your Spanish can make you feel great – especially after a particularly bad day.

By making time for your favourite hobbies outside of work, you may find that you come into the workplace refreshed and feeling good about yourself. These positive vibes may help give you confidence in your capabilities and the strength to handle whatever comes your way.


Talk to someone

We all have that one friend who cheers us up or listen to us when we’re in a sour mood and offer words of wisdom. If that’s the case, talking it out with someone can be a great relief.

Personally, I like to reach out to a trusted colleague of mine and have a quick coffee or chat to brighten my spirits (or vent) at the end of a challenging day. Just sharing out loud to a trusted friend or individual can often help you look at things holistically and may enable you to figure out what to do about the situation or to start improving it.


Remember: it’s not the end of the world

This might be the most important thing I’ve learned from having a bad day. It may seem that everything is daunting and you might feel that you’re stuck in a rut. However, this likely isn’t the first time you’ve been faced with a challenge, and remember, you can get through it. It’s helpful to take a deep breath and remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day.


For more advice on coping with stress in the workplace, visit