How to Stop a Bad Day

We all have those days where we feel meh.  There’s nothing specifically wrong but how little you’re enjoying yourself consumes everything you do and you just feel a bit shit.  My mum calls this being in a dwaal, and I’ve spent most of the past week in one.  There’s been nothing wrong – I’ve just felt really tested by my surroundings and as a result all of my workouts and runs haven’t felt good, my work hasn’t been great, I’ve felt unenthusiastic to make myself proper meals and packed lunches for work, plan a nice outfit for work/generally resemble a nice, clean and approachable human, and you get the picture.

However, what probably started as a small nuisance or an inconvenience I let escalate into an entire week of feeling crap, and by acting the way that I have I have made it worse.

One of the best things about running is it teaches you to mentally get through periods of boredom and difficulty, and I realised this week that I needed to apply a bit of this mental training to the rest of my life.

What I need to change is not necessarily my thinking, but my thinking about my thinking.

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Throughout a bad day or a bad run you tend to think about what you’re doing, but during a good day you’re thinking about why you’re doing it.

During a tough situation such as a very long run or a challenging day at work you need to pay a certain amount of attention to what you’re doing, but you need to keep your mind focussed on why you’re doing it.

When you’re thinking about what you’re doing on a 20 mile run it’s hard to stay motivated and feeling enthusiastic, as instead you think about your boredom, exhaustion, sore feet and all other nuisance factors.

You need to in this instance think about why you’re doing it, because you’re working for a goal and bringing yourself closer to something you want to achieve and because you’re capable of doing it.  I’m running 20 miles because I’m training for a marathon, and the positive associations of that goal override my other complaints enough to keep me going.  It’s still hard but the why provides context for the what that helps you prioritise what you want and your behaviour accordingly.

Paying attention to the what I’m doing at work this week has just left me feeling frustrated, inadequate and a bit despondent.  However, as soon as you change this to why am I working, the answers are because working means I get to spend my free time doing the things I like, I get to challenge myself and I’m doing my chosen career because it’s what I want to do with my time because I’m (hopefully) good at it.

You can’t just magically snap your fingers and make negative thoughts positive, but you can take responsibility for your approach to what is going on and change your thinking towards your thoughts and interrupt the process that creates them.  It can be hard sometimes but don’t think what – think why.

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