Post 69: #Coronavirus and a global perspective…

…on how to handle a bad day.

We’re sharing our experiences, thoughts, and uncensored opinions during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 69.

Note: We don’t claim to be mental health professionals, and any advice or tips we offer are based on personal experience only.

Are bad days here to stay?

RJD, #Beirut, #Lebanon

The good days have been fewer and fewer these past few weeks here in Lebanon. The political, economic, financial, and Covid-19 crises are playing out badly on a daily basis.

So, when I wake up in the morning, I get this heavy, sinking feeling as I wonder what the day will bring. How will it be? As the day evolves and more bad news emerges on the local and international scenes, I begin to feel this heaviness getting bigger and wider.

Unfortunately, a lot of what is going on here affects us on a daily basis: what price is the lollar at? Will we be able to get money out of the bank? How long is the wait at the bank? What rate is the bank providing today on withdrawals in US Dollars? Will we find the groceries we are used to purchasing? Will there be road closures? And last but not least, which of our ruling class will punch each other in the face during a meeting? It is endless…so one anticipates all the bad before one can see a shred of good.

My new policy is to NOT watch the news, nor read any, at the start of the day. I have removed all push notifications except for one site. I scroll through it when I have the time or feel like it. I have switched my phone to silent so I don’t get phone calls at other people’s whim. I answer text messages when it is convenient for me. I am no longer at the mercy of everyone and my device.

This has helped reduce some of the stress and anxiety that make me have a bad day.

Sadly, bad days are going to become more of the normal than we expect, at least in the short run. We might have to go through several more lockdowns until herd immunity takes over, we are going to pay a heavy price for the economic and financial depression that we are facing and we will be more on edge in general.

For now, on the really bad days I try to find humor, keep myself busy, and vent it out. Alas, oh for the days when one used to wake up in the morning and feel like it’s a new day!

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Turning a bad day, sad face, or frown into a good day, smile, or a happy face

Norma B. Wallace, Bend, #Oregon

Whether the bad day is due to the isolation, lockdown, or just a personal bad day, there are things that can be done. I have thought of simply standing on my head to make the sad face into a happy face – but since I am 76 and don’t have as good of a balance on my feet as I used to – I’m not sure I could balance on my head, so decided not to try it.

During the Covid-19 shutdown I have found that sticking to a morning routine helps tremendously. I get up and before coffee, I do a Tai Chi warmup and the Eight Pieces of Brocade. I do other exercises, depending on what type of exercise I expect to do during the day, and how much time I have. I have breakfast and do chores around the house. My family has a FaceTime call, so I try to look halfway decent for them. I am usually dressed by then. It makes my day!!!!

Whether or not we are in lockdown – there are always ups and downs in living life. I think of the triggers that might give me a down day. For me they are the holidays, special birthdays, anniversaries, and special events I did with my husband, who passed away two years ago. I plan for those days and make sure I am busy with activities. Again, I am so fortunate for my family. They make sure that I am looked after in some way and included in their days (whether it be in person, FaceTime, a call, or chocolate-covered strawberries). I am so fortunate to have such a supportive family. My local friends also treat me like family and do something special, drop off some cookies, or give me a call. I am so grateful.

What about those unexpected bad days where everything goes wrong, what do you do? Yesterday, my afternoon started off like that. My homeowners association (HOA) sent me a notice that my fence is not up to code. I must paint my fence. Again, my neighbors and friends are helping me. However, I have to buy the stain. I went to the paint store – without the correct measurements, and worse yet, I forgot my wallet. No, money was not the problem, I could go home and get that. However, I had to drive home, knowing I didn’t have my license with me. I knew there was a policeman on every corner waiting to give me a ticket. My technique for handling “bad” day situations like this is:

  1. I am not the first person to forget my license – in the worst case, I get fined if caught.
  2. It isn’t the end of the world if I don’t have the right measurements – I can remeasure.
  3. Take a deep breath – drive carefully and do the best you can.
  4. Fix what you can in a bad situation, know what is beyond your control: STOP, BREATHE, and THINK.

Do this not that

Tina F., Fairfax, #Virginia

Having a bad day? Define bad. My days have been good and bad and interchangeable. Granted, we are all experiencing some level of anxiety at this time, but how does one get out of the funk?

A few days ago I was feeling much better about my life. Quarantine was over, the shutdown was coming to an end, and I had a new found energy about my life. So what happened? How did I go from that feeling to having a complete shit day? The type of day that leaves me with a throbbing headache and a pit in my stomach. 

I know it’s stress-related, but for some reason I cannot shake it off. I’m digging deep and tapping into all my self-affirmation resources. I may experience relief for 30 minutes and then it’s back. The more desperate I am to “fix” the issue, the worse it gets.

Does that happen to you? The time when you desperately need to deal with a bad day and you cannot find the solution? It is more common that you think.

What I have learned is that during that stressful moments, the best thing you can do for yourself is to journal and identify the source of the trigger. It is not the time to come up with a game plan. The best time to rationally deal with a bad emotion is when you are feeling good. It is then that you can see the situation and solutions more clearly.

I was attending an online class called The Neuroscience of Change and I learned that emotions are passed down to the next generation. Scientists had conducted an experiment on mice where they introduced a sound and then shocked them. These mice would respond with the same anxiety level every time they heard the sound. When the next generation of mice came along, they too responded in a similar fashion when subjected to the same sound, even though no shock was administered. It is therefore possible to inherit emotions too. So am I carrying the horrors of my ancestors? Shouldn’t the same theory apply to happiness then? The answers are yes and yes. 

In my class I also learned that “We operate on a memorized set of behaviors, emotional reactions and unconscious habits.” It is during the cognitive analysis that we can make changes and “Replace old programming.” We must remember to not berate ourselves and be kind to ourselves. Learn new ways of giving and receiving love, and always remember to acknowledge your accomplishments.  

What’s wrong with having a bad day?

RafifJ, #Malaga, #Spain

You’re having a bad day. SO WHAT?

Let me explain my perspective before I get accused of being super-insensitive.

Of course, I have bad days just like everyone else. I find ways to get over them – a walk on the beach, a phone call with a special friend, a joke – but here’s the bottom line: bad days are good for you. How else would you recognize the good days?

Here’s a little perspective: if you’re not a refugee, in a war zone, at risk of starvation, or mourning the loss of multiple members of your family, you’re in pretty good shape.

But you don’t have to suffer calamities to have a bad day, and the old expression, “my headache is worse than yours” is relevant. It may be a good idea to think through your bad day, figure out what’s really bothering you, and acknowledge it. Like Judith Viorst’s Alexander, who had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, sometimes we just have bad days and have to learn to deal with them.

Besides exercising or a brisk walk or reaching out to a friend? I know! I could sing to you, and that would have you in tears of laughter.

Or try doing something nice for someone else. The Helper Therapy Principle applies, especially during anxiety-ridden times like, oh, a pandemic. You could pick up groceries for someone who cannot, offer a hot meal to a homeless person, or spend some Zoom time with a kid who is driving his or her parents nuts.

Sometimes, just gaining a little more perspective on how not-bad your life actually is can help you turn your bad day into a better one. And remember, today will eventually end, and tomorrow is an opportunity to have a much better day. Make it a good one!

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