Careers

If you're having a really bad day, 7 mind tricks can help turn it around

NUP_101508_0093
NBC | Getty Images

You missed your train, spilled coffee on your white shirt and forgot about a big meeting you needed to prepare for.

Sometimes it can seem like no matter what you do, nothing's going your way. Instead of being glum, and taking your crappy day out on your co-workers or friends, decide to turn things around yourself.

More from TODAY:
Teen works through injuries at Chick-fil-A so he can help feed the homeless
Learn to meditate in 10 minutes: 8 tips from the co-founder of Headspace

How to train your brain to stay positive

TODAY spoke with a few experts to give you concrete strategies to implement whether your car broke down, your relationship is driving you crazy or you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

1. Mind your thoughts

Once you realize your day is going off the tracks and you've noticed that you want to feel better, move on to mindfulness. Mindfulness has to do with just "being" with your emotions instead of judging them.

"Part of mindfulness is 'acceptance without judgment,'" said Katie Lyons, a mindfulness expert. "If we focus on the facts and avoid words and labels like 'bad' or 'terrible,' it will help reduce stress."

Therefore, set a timer on your phone and allow yourself 10 or 15 minutes to think or journal about the feeling, and then close the journal when the timer goes off and let it go. Lyons stressed this is all part of mindfulness: focus on the stress mindfully, and then be deliberate and conscious with your time and letting it go.

2. Celebrate putting those feelings behind you

Similarly, health coach Blanche Roberts affirms that an awareness of the feeling is an accomplishment in and of itself, and something that you can feel good about. "The fact that YOU noticed you want to feel better is worthy of celebration because you are aware and can now choose to make a shift." Give yourself a pat on the back, or even a hug.

3. Spend time on your go-to's

Now that you're aware and practicing mindfulness, it's time to focus on ways to actually get into a better mood. First, distraction is key. Licensed clinical counselor Tanya Komblevitz suggested cleaning or doing other chores because it gives you a sense of accomplishment and order, after a stressful day.

"Engage in an activity that is both pleasurable AND challenging, such as cooking or art. Pick something that you know how to do, and know that you feel good after doing it," she advised.

4. Make your senses work for you

Komblevitz also suggested using your five senses to your advantage. You can self-sooth your way out of a bad day by sniffing your favorite perfume, for example. She recommended burning a scented candle, listening to your favorite song, eating your favorite meal, taking a warm bath or looking at a picture of someone you love.

Actress Doris Day in a Scene from the Film Pillow Talk.
John Springer Collection | Getty Images
Actress Doris Day in a Scene from the Film Pillow Talk.

Not only will these activities appeal to your senses, but they'll also get you out of your head and into a more positive activity to break the negative thought patterns that occur when you feel like the day couldn't get any worse.

5. Perform a random act of kindness

Volunteer or do something for someone else to take the attention off of you and place it on someone else.

"This will help you realize that love is more important than life circumstances. It'll also help shift your perspective and boost your mood," said Karen Kassidy, Ph.D, managing director of The Anxiety Treatment Center of Chicago.

6. Put yourself in the other person's shoes

What happens when other people are the source of your bad day, specifically, a loved one?

If you've just had an argument with your partner, it may be difficult to stop spinning the details over and over in your head — thinking about how your partner is wrong. Instead, relationship therapist Anita Chlipala recommended looking at your own accountability in the argument. Ask yourself, "How did you speak to him or her? What could you have phrased better or done differently?" This gives you a sense of control and self-reflection, which can make you feel productive.

Then, play devil's advocate. Chlipala suggests the next way to calm down and get in a better mood is to find the good intentions behind your partner's actions or words. Looking at other possibilities and meanings beyond your original interpretation can be calming and hopeful.

"This can go beyond one argument; if someone doesn't respond to a text or didn't call, give your partner the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst," Chlipala said. " Most of the time, your partner isn't being deliberately hurtful or malicious."

7. Remember happy times

Finally, if you find that doing one of these things to boost your mood still doesn't do the trick, there is a very simple solution: Think happy thoughts.

"Nostalgia is thought to be a fundamental human strength," said Allison Gilbert, author of "Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive". "The more we engage with positive memories (whether it's last week when your job was going better or five years ago when you went on that luxury vacation), the more we're able to glean happiness from them, the easier it is to manage the emotional low points."

So if you're not getting a quick fix from any of the techniques to change your mood, keep in mind that over time as you continue to implement them, you are strengthening that happiness muscle and promoting more positivity in your life!

This piece originally appeared on Today.