I am a huge Netflix fan! Seriously, I am a person who will spend an entire weekend binge watching a tv series until the very last episode of the very last season. It is such an unhealthy addiction for me, especially, since it makes me feel like a zombie; shuffling in and out of the darkness every once in awhile for food and responding to family members with short zombie-like grunts.
Fortunately, it is only a seasonal addiction, as I only seem to binge watch tv when the weather outside is super cold. With Spring just around the corner, I find myself being a little more active enjoying the warm weather, defrosting from a long Winter.
However, every month, my parents call me with a list of “good” tv series they recommend watching on Netflix. One of those series is,“Brain Games,” with Jason Silva. To be honest, the way my parents explained it, I thought it was a game show. Totally pass! My entire childhood was spent watching Nickelodeon game shows like “Double Dare,” “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” and “Figure It Out.” So, yeah, I didn’t even bother; but my parents kept asking me if I had watched “Brain Games” yet. So, this week, I decided to check it out…
Not A Game Show
Okay, “Brain Games” is pretty interesting! It is not a game show. There are no contestants, prizes, nor is the host standing behind a podium with a handful of clueless cards. Nope, “Brain Games” is seriously all about the brain!
This show talks about the fascinating and mysterious inner-workings of the mind. It is an entertaining and educational series that is both fascinating and interesting with experiments, experts, and fun. The best part of this show are the interesting games you can play that demonstrate how the mind works!
Ideomotor Effect Episode (No Spoil Alerts)
My favorite episode, so far, is about the Ideomotor Effect, a psychological phenomenon where our body moves unconsciously. They demonstrated this phenomenon with the Ouija Board. Basically, a group of volunteers call upon the dead, in which answer through the Ouija Board. It was clear as day, until the volunteers were asked to call upon the dead again, but this time all the volunteers were blind folded. The result, a fuzzy connection between the living and the dead. Communication was not as clear as it was without the blind folds.
Of course, when they were not blind folded, this could easily mean that someone in the group lied and was actually controlling the wood-piece, called a planchette, across the Ouija board to connect with the dead. However, when everyone in the group is convinced that they did not push the planchette; how do you explain that?
Interestingly, I’ve actually heard of the the Ideomotor Effect from one of my biology classes. I am pretty sure it was one of my late night classes and I was half asleep, but I do recall such a term. But, that is just it. It is simply a term that rings a bell, but with no distinct sound to remind me what in the heck it means. Well, the way “Brain Games” explains it, is extremely fascinating. No spoil alerts here, but simply, the Ouija board is just the mind tricking the brain! In case, you find their explanation a little too hard to believe, they show you how you can see the Ideomotor Effect with your own hands. CRAZY!
Like I said, I am not going to spoil it for you!
Personally, I thought the episode was really fascinating; however, I am still not going anywhere near a Ouija Board!
Don’t Have Netflix!
If you don’t have Netflix, no worries! This tv-series is quite popular; you can find a bunch of their episodes online with YouTube.
Have you seen Brain Games? What do you think of the series? What is your favorite episode?
Last week, I was invited to paradise, but when I arrived, paradise was nowhere to be found; it was buried in chaos!
My mother asked if I could come down and help her with some projects around the house. Turns out those projects were bigger than the both of us and we ran out of motivation before we could even think where to begin; plus, the weather didn’t help. When the weather is cold and wet, my mother moves like molasses as her poor joints lock up like a rusty old tin man. So, instead of working on projects, my mother (being my mother) convinced me to go to her “fun” dentist for a routine check up. Let’s just say, I came home this weekend with a broken sandal strap and 6 cavities. It was a rough week.
All my life, I feared getting my first cavity. So, it wasn’t fun getting the news that I have 6 cavities! That’s a bit to take in, especially, since I have been cavity free for over 30 years! Overall, my teeth are in good health and the cavities are “shallow.” According to my mother’s “fun” dentist, it’s a “no-brainer” to fix. I’m relieved, because I thought it was going to be rocket-science! Ugh!
Too Many To-Do’s To Count
Cavities aside, my mother really needs my help! She is buried in too many overwhelming projects. My mother is notorious for starting projects and never finishing them; and she knows it. Unfortunately, it has finally caught up with her; not only is it affecting her happiness, but also her overall health.
My mother is a natural clutter bug whereas I am more of a minimalist (with a few hidden junk drawers). Our ideas clash sometimes, as she doesn’t understand how I can function without appliances cluttering the countertops, knick-knack “treasures” cluttering the shelves, or even a yard without on single piece of lawn decoration (like the Elvis Flamingo she gave me a few years ago) and simply, I do not understand how she can function in “chaos.”
Tossing The To-Do List’s
Despite our different ideas, my mother has called upon my minimalistic superpowers to help her get things back in order.
Personally, I don’t like To-Do lists, but for some people, to-do lists are amazing. I thought for my mom, a to-do list would help her organize her thoughts, but like her bathroom scale, to-do lists are also evil, wicked, mean, and nasty! So, nix the to-do list idea!
The Light Bulb For A New Game Plan
I was so overwhelmed by my mother’s house that I felt exhausted by the time I got home to my own house. My husband did a great job keeping up the house while I was gone (he even made the bed) and the glistening clean countertops were a welcoming sight when I came home. While cooking dinner that night, the fat moving hamster in my brain turned on a light bulb as bright as the sun! I realized how I could help my mom with her overwhelming basket of to-do-lists.
Sadly, my mother’s poor health finally sunk in, making me realize she really needs my help. Before, my mother would asked for my help just for the company. Now, she really needs my organizational brain to kick into full gear and help prioritize chaos.
I quickly came up with a new game plan to tackle all her projects. Instead of a basket full of overwhelming to-do lists, we start with a fresh slate and move slowly forward without my mother putting her hand in the project cookie jar. See, my mother is also notorious for creating large new projects over night.
Her house is chaotic, because unfinished projects are EVERYWHERE, in which is causing her to feel overwhelmed; so, the first order of business is to put away all the projects creating a clean slate. Then, deep clean her house to make it easier for her to manage on her own. Then, finally, tackling the projects one at a time, by doing those that serve a functional purpose rather than those that serve a cosmetic purpose. Basically, fix the leaky sink before painting it a “pretty” new color.
Accomplishing Large Goals With Smaller Goals
It is easier to accomplish a large goal by breaking it down into smaller goals. The smaller goals encourage motivation to continue working towards the overall large goal. But, when you have too many large goals, the best way to conquer them is to clear your plate all together and start over with one simple task at a time, focusing mainly on one goal. It will make things go quicker and much easier.
Wish Us Luck!
I am heading back, with a new pair of sandals in hand and the motivation to take back paradise from chaos!
If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is to never pass up an opportunity for a mental break! So….this week, I will be 200 miles away from my computer with my toes in the sand, a warm sun on my face, and maybe toss a few hooks into the water!
This is an unexpected adventure and a great opportunity to relax, breathe, and reset my busy brain! To be honest, I am not sure if I will be able to do much blogging this week. I will certainly try, but internet in paradise doesn’t always work. Perhaps, that is what makes it paradise, a world away from distracting devices. Believe me, an entire week without Talking Tom notifications would be awesome! (A kid app on my phone for my kids)
But, before I head off with sandals in hand, I just wanted to take a moment to thank all my readers! This blog recently received a 100 likes! It may not seem like a big deal, but it is a big deal to me! It greatly motivates me to continue blogging. I greatly appreciate the likes, comments, and emails. I do intend to blog more after my little vacation. I enjoy connecting with everyone, sharing personal experiences, random thoughts, and interests in mental health and science. Thank you again for reading my blog! 🙂
Stay strong, breathe, and remember to smile! I will be back next week….I have some awesome books I am excited to share with you!
Towering piles of dirty dishes in the sink are conquering new territory over the counter tops. Trash, lying just mere inches away from the empty trash can, look as if they were too exhausted to complete their journey. My bathroom floor looks like a game of “Lava” with a trail of clothes leading to an empty hamper. My living room is an endless mine field of toys, snack wrappers, and half-eaten snacks protecting the entrance to the kids room. Lastly, my desk is completely covered in a blanket of white crumbled up tissues from a night of horrible allergies. There is nothing about this scene that says, “OMG, you are so OCD!” But, oddly, my husband is convinced otherwise!
I clean my house everyday. Okay, allow me to rephrase that…I “pick up” my house everyday. 95% of the time, our house is pretty much clean, in which is saying something considering we have two little sticky and extremely messy kids.
Personally, I enjoying waking up to a clean house and I enjoy going to bed to a clean house; however, during the day is free game. There are messes, spills, unexpected discoveries of old food in the couches, and toys in places I would never have thought to look. My point is, our house looks very much “lived” in during the day, but this is a side my husband rarely see’s, for that he often comes home to a house that looks as clean and organized as a museum.
Perfection is an Illusion
My husband thinks I am an “OCD clean freak,” because in his eyes, the house is generally always “perfectly” clean. My OCD has nothing to do with my cleaning habits and surprisingly, my OCD has nothing to do with perfection. I was raised in a world where everything had to be perfect; perhaps, that is why I despise perfection so much. I just grew tired of it. In my opinion, perfection is nothing more than an illusion. What I may consider as perfect may be different than what another person may consider perfect, thus can create unachievable expectations. Honestly, that doesn’t seem healthy, so I do not strive for perfection. Sure, I have my moments when I want something to be “perfect,” but I do not allow the idea of perfection to consume me. I usually just end up with, “eh, that’s good enough for me,” and move on.
Although I live a somewhat minimalistic lifestyle (except for my kids, they own everything), I do not feel the need to strive for order and cleanliness; instead, I “value” order and cleanliness. For the most part, I try to keep my house neat, clean, and organized, but only because it makes life so much easier.
Keeping A Clean House Is Part of Stress Management
“If it doesn’t have a purpose or serve a function, out it goes!” is my motto for living a somewhat minimalistic lifestyle. It has nothing to do with being frugal, environmentally friendly, or OCD; its just makes life easier and reduces stress for everyone. My husband and I both have anxiety disorders, so I do my best to create a somewhat stress-free environment.
Here are some of my core beliefs about keeping a stress-free environment:
Waking up to a clean house is refreshing whereas waking up to a messy, dirty house can immediately impact a persons mood and create anxiety with an overwhelming thought of must-do’s.
Everything has a designated place to make it easier to find things and avoid the anxiety of having to look for something, especially in an emergency.
Clutter can clutter the mind as well as make excellent hiding places for things we’ve lost. Plus, clutter is home to annoying little dust-bunnies!
Clothes are washed and put away in a timely manner to avoid the anxiety of not having anything to wear for work.
Clean dishes encourages a home-cook meal, instead of going out for fast food.
Going to bed to a clean house puts the mind at rest for better sleep.
Just A Little Everyday Work
There is no extreme labeling, perfect organization, or even a strict chaotic routine I follow everyday to ensure the house is maintained to create a somewhat stress-free environment. Living a minimalistic, clutter free house cuts down majority of the work for me and after that I have only four everyday tasks:
Laundry (if any)
Pick up and vacuum the house before husband comes home
Clean kitchen after dinner, take out trash, and do dishes (cheat with a dishwasher)
Pick up the house just before bed
But of course, I do deep clean the house once or twice a month, but the rest is just kept up with daily maintenance. This allows me to feel guilt free when I encounter days where I just don’t feel like doing anything at all and leave the house a mess for a day (because even the messiest of days are not that bad).
OCD plays no role in keeping my house clean. Well, maybe, if you factor in that I keep my house clean to reduce anxiety, in which greatly helps my OCD, but OCD itself is not the reason my house is clean. My only actual goal is to pick up the house at the end of everyday before my husband comes home. Where then, it is my husband’s personal idea of perfection that makes it seem our house is maintained by an “OCD clean freak.”
In my opinion, I think mental health is secondary to physical health for three reasons:
Psychology is Fairly New
Mental Health Stigma
A Little Healthcare History
During the 1800’s, the United States had a poor healthcare system. Practicing physicians were not licensed, very few were actually formally educated, hospitals were filthy, and medications were nothing more than a dangerous concoction of narcotics and bathroom cleaner. In fact, dentistry at that time was a little more evolved than the general medical practice. If you think about it, you gotta have teeth to eat, right? Anyways, it wasn’t until the early 1900’s, surgeons realized the crazy notion that sterile surgical equipment and better hygiene practices, resulted in better health outcomes for their patients; basically, their patients lived longer. That was the spark that ignited modern healthcare practices today. Amazing what washing your hands can do! Unfortunately, mental healthcare was moving along on its own path…an extremely rough slow path.
What To Do With The Mentally Ill
A little less than 200 years ago, the mentally ill were sent to cruel, immoral asylums where they were locked away and forgotten. Living conditions were extremely unsanitary and patients were often abused and chained to the wall. These immoral conditions didn’t begin to improve until the 1830’s and even then, nobody knew what to do with the mentally ill.
When the general-care hospitals were evolving into cleaner facilities and better practices, the immoral asylum practices of isolation and mistreatment of mentally ill patients was eventually deemed unacceptable by society, forcing asylums to improve living conditions and attempt to actually treat the mentally ill; unfortunately, the treatments provided were not scientific. The behaviors expressed by the mentally ill were largely misunderstood and often considered something evil and unnatural; instead of sick or different. People often fear what they do not understand.
Although mental health was a growing concern, there was still very little known about the human mind. Wilhelm Wundt, the father of psychology, was the first to crack open the mental barrier of the human brain; however, it wouldn’t be for another 50 years before Sigmund Freud developed actual scientific-based treatments for mental health conditions.
Medications to effectively manage mental-health conditions were developed in the mid-1900’s; however, many of them were pretty much bad for ones overall physical health despite their effectiveness on mental health. During this time, many long-term mental health patients were being deinstitutionalized and forced back into the communities as a moral way to deal with the mentally-ill. Unfortunately, many still required long-term treatment and care. It was as if society had good intentions, but still no official game plan to treat the mentally-ill.
Slowly, but surely, mental health clinics, rehabilitation centers, and mental health hospitals were eventually established to effectively treat and morally care for the mentally-ill; however, mental health is still not recognized as importantly as a ticking heart, breathing lungs, and pumping liver.
Recognizing The Connection Between Mind, Body, & Soul
Many different cultures around the world largely accept the important connection between the mind, body, and soul; however, interestingly, such an important concept is not widely practiced in modern day medicine.
When I go for my annual health physical, the only assessment done on my mental health is a 10 question survey asking if I “think” I am depressed. General physicians do not seem concerned about how depression may affect mood, personal choices (addictions), or that a slight chemical imbalance causing depression might be part of an underlying health disease or illness; instead, their 10 question survey focuses more on suicide prevention.
I found an interesting article last night about mental health history that mentioned the mentally-ill often suffered from underlying diseases rather than true mental health disorders. A common example is neurosyphilis, in which is a psychotic disorder developed from untreated syphilis.
Today, it is recognized that both mental health practitioners and general health practitioners have to work together to provide quality care to patients with certain mental-health disorders; but I can only imagine this to be a lengthy and expensive process to uncover and treat underlying diseases affecting mental health. But, before any amount of diagnosing can begin, patients have to feel comfortable enough to seek help in the first place without the fear of being locked up in a padded cell.
Mental Health Stigma
Looking at history, I feel as if the study of psychology is a fairly new science. From what I gather, society, has just recently (say, last 60 years) begun to really recognize mental-illnesses as health related issues instead of mystifying evil. Thinking about it, 60 years is not a long time, nor is 200 years since society used to cruelly isolate and mistreat the mentally-ill. For me, that was only 3 family generations ago, meaning, my grandparents view mental health much differently than I do.
Society probably has mixed views regarding mental health, but those views are nothing compared to the personal views one holds of themself who is struggling to cope with a mental-health disorder. Nobody wants to be labeled as “abnormal,” “different,” “odd,” or even “broken.” Nor does anyone, including a general physican, that does not have a psychology degree want to simply imply one may be slightly “broken,“unless a physical bone is protruding out from under the skin. Personally, I do not even think psychologists and psychiatrists enjoy that part either, despite their fancy degree hanging on their office wall.
My point is, recent negative views on mental health is still lingering and it provides very little encouragement for those in need to seek professional help for mental health disorders. Furthermore, people trust their general-health practitioners, because doctors have been around much longer than psychologists; and if mental health is not part of “general” health concerns, why worry about it?
The Future of Mental Health
I am optimistic, in that I believe after a few generations, mental health will be considered just as important as physical health. Through public awareness, further advancement in neuroscience and general pyschology, as well as, positive encouragement, mental health will no longer be second to the heart, lungs, and liver.
Just An Opinion
As I mentioned earlier, this post is a just my personal opinion. Although I try to formulate opinions based on researched facts, that doesn’t make my opinions right or wrong. In fact, my opinions are nothing more than random thoughts open for polite discussion. Please do not take my opinions personal. You are welcome to disagree, but if you wish to express your disagreement, please do so in a kindly manner for that I personally value and respect different perspectives. Lastly, please keep in mind that my opinions and the opinions of others have feelings too.
“…my Fight or Flight Response System, it is more or less like a very old, overdramatic, senile emergency dispatcher who can’t seem to remember all the facts and misinterprets the danger levels.”
In the beginning, I counted traffic lights, memorized traffic light patterns, and wasted gallons of gas driving back and forth to reassure myself that I had not caused any accidents with my car. This is how my brain decided to rewire itself after my stressful situation with a faulty blinker on the freeway. For me, it was the beginning of insanity…
Different Forms of OCD With One Common Theme
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. There are many different forms of OCD and not everyone experiences OCD the same. What is truly fascinating about OCD, is that a person can experience more than one form of OCD; however, each of those forms of OCD all tend to share a common theme. For me, I have been diagnosed with Pure “O” Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (no compulsive behaviors); yet, I also experience what is called “Hit & Run” OCD (with compulsive behaviors). For me, both forms of OCD share a common theme: The irrational fear of having harmed others through some form of negligence. Unfortunately, for me, my Pure “O” OCD amplifies my Hit & Run OCD, almost to the point I thought I was going insane.
Hit & Run OCD
Fortunately, there is nothing insane about my membranes, except for a little OCD bully brain. “Hit & Run” OCD is when the brain responds inappropriately to a stressful situation. Instead of recognizing and appropriately dealing with the true source of anxiety, the OCD brain twists thoughts and emotions around causing a person to doubt not only their true character but also events associated with their anxiety.
An example of a “Hit & Run” OCD episode would be like an OCD driver driving in an area crowded with pedestrians (like New York City). It is absolutely normal to feel nervous, because people are unpredictable. You never know who might run out into the street or step out of a parked car into passing traffic. It is truly a stressful situation. The purpose of anxiety is to keep the driver alert, but the driver’s OCD brain, kind of goes on double high alert and begins to misinterpret the situation. The driver runs over a pot hole that triggers an OCD episode where the driver begins to have irrational fears that he may have ran over a person. The bad case of “what if’s” begin to affect the driver’s self-doubt and then worst case scenarios cross his mind making him feel like a terrible person. To relieve his fears, compulsion sets in, where he may turn around to check for an accident, check his car for damage, or read the newspaper everyday looking for a report of an accident. A mix of guilt and paranoia could also set in from extreme anxiety. He might even think he has gone insane, because the thoughts and emotions feel so real, not only doubting reality, but also his true character. The driver is a good person, who in reality, would not drive away from a true accident. Unfortunately, OCD loves to mess with good-minded people and the driver with OCD endures a long period of extreme emotional suffering.
The good news is that those experiencing “Hit & Run” OCD or any form of OCD have not gone insane. OCD is all based on feelings and emotions and as I have been told a million times before, “the truly insane do not feel insanity.” It’s just a little faulty wiring with our Fight or Flight Response System causing false evidence to appear real.
F. E. A. R. The result of my faulty wiring
I often refer to my OCD episodes as “OCD fears,” because my OCD episodes generally focus on some kind of irrational fear about something. Thus, my favorite OCD acronym is F.E.A.R., in which cleverly means: “False Evidence Appearing Real.” At first, I didn’t really understand what it meant, because everything was too real to consider any of it as false. However, I know now that F.E.A.R. is the result of my faulty wiring in my OCD brain. So, what is going on with this faulty wiring?
The autonomic nervous system in our body controls all those amazing things our body does without the need of us having to think about it. This includes breathing (automatic), heart beating (automatic), digestive system (automatic), and hormone regulation (automatic). This system is broken down into two parts: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. The faulty wiring lies within the sympathetic part of our autonomic nervous system; also known as the “Fight or Flight Response System.”
The Fight or Flight Response System is responsible for anxiety. Anxiety is actually a good thing when it functions properly. In stressful situations, anxiety tells the body something is up and to be on the look out for danger. Kind of like a safety alarm system, prompting us to immediately assess the situation. From there, we are forced to make the decision to either Fight (stay and deal with it) or Flight (run away from it). Below is a Caveman scenario from college about how our Fight or Flight Response System works:
My Cave Man Scenario: A hairy caveman comes out from his den to play with fire; something him and his friends have recently discovered by accident (funny story by the way)…anyways, while walking along the beautiful plains of the Palaeolithic era, he comes across a large saber-tooth tiger sleeping peacefully among the high grass. The caveman’s sympathetic nervous system is going off! His heart begins to beat faster, his palms start to sweat, and his body starts to shiver in fear. His body is screaming DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!
There are only two options: FIGHT or FLIGHT.
This caveman valued his life very much and of course FLIGHT took over. He quietly took a few steps back, turned, and quickly ran back to his den. Later, around the community bon-fire with his buddies, he told them about his encounter with a vicious saber-tooth tiger. Instead of telling them he had ran away; he told man’s first epic hero story of man vs. beast and man won. 🙂
Faulty Wiring In The Fight Or Flight Response System
OCD is an anxiety disorder, because the OCD brain has faulty wiring in the Fight or Flight Response System. Stressful situations trigger the Fight or Flight Response System; however, the OCD brain is like a rotten school kid who likes to pull the fire alarm when there is no fire. The Fight or Flight Response System is wired in such a way that it triggers on false alarms.
For me, stressful situations trigger anxiety, like it should, but my OCD has taken over the Fight or Flight Response Division of my brain and is now, more or less, like a very old, overdramatic, senile emergency dispatcher who can’t seem to remember all the facts and misinterprets the danger levels. Instead of appropriately responding to a stressful situation with normal Fight or Flight Response protocols, my OCD brain triggers an irrational fear creating self-doubt, extreme guilt and worry; forcing me to deal with F.E.A.R.: false evidence appearing real.
Detective of OCD Related Incidents
Over the years, I have become quite the Sherlock Holmes of OCD related incidents; especially those episodes pertaining to my “Hit & Run” OCD. To get over a major OCD episode, I have to write it all down. Basically, take down my own official statement of events. After recognizing the trigger, I can work on collecting all the false evidence that appears to be real. Then, logically prove such evidence is indeed false. I say, my dear Watson would be extremely proud.
Eventually, writing is no longer necessary when one begins to immediately recognize triggers, a powerful tool used to defuse OCD before it can even start. Today, I experience very little driving anxiety. In fact, I love to drive! Pedestrians and other drivers do make me slightly nervous, but that is completely normal. The important thing is that I do not allow my OCD to make it more than what it really is by being a confident driver. Also, if I drive with an anxious mind, OCD episodes are prone to happen. I also know I am good person and I refuse to let my OCD convince me otherwise.
For those suffering from Hit & Run OCD, please remember that you are not crazy or insane and that you are a good person despite how your OCD makes you feel. ❤
Today, I woke up with the feeling that today is going to be a bad day. I knew something bad was going to happen, but like most of my so-called morning premonitions, I didn’t know what.
My gut feeling is usually right about something, but it is generally clouded by emotion that makes it difficult to trust. When my gut feeling and emotions collide with my OCD brain, that catastrophic thinking begins to take full affect and I just want to bunker down in my bed and hide from what “might” be a bad day.
Response is EVERYTHING!
What makes a bad day? Usually a series of unfortunate events or one single unpleasant event that just puts a person in a bad / negative mood all day. It may be other things, but personally, that is how I define my bad days.
Bad things unfortuantely happen. I like to think of it as the Universe’s way of balancing itself. The good news though, is that we don’t have to let ourselves be affected by it. It is all in how we respond to things that affect our overall day.
This morning, I woke up expecting something bad was going to happen. Could it be something catastrophic or just something as little as stepping in gum? There is no way of telling; so I just have to go with the flow and cope with whatever might happen.
Response is everything! How we choose to respond to situations, determines how that situation is going to affect our mood for the rest of the day. One little thing can be the catalyst for bigger things that can just make the day suck.
Creating A Bad Day
I strongly believe that we create our own bad days. I say this, because I rarely experience a bad day. I do have bad days, lots of them, but I respond differently to them.
It is so easy to create a bad day. Generally, it starts with something stressful we are going through in life, something we might not even know is stressing us out. Maybe being exhausted from working two jobs, family problems, a sucky job with a horrible boss, finances are tight, or maybe, heck, all the above. Stress can trigger bad days. Often times, I don’t realize just how stressed out I am until I take it out of someone or something; and that is the starting catalyst to a bad day.
Have you ever woke up feeling good and looking forward to a great day, but later, you come home exhausted after having the worst day of your life? Yeah, me too. My bad work days used to begin with something simple.
Like having to wear something ridiculous, because I ran out of clothes before laundry day. An embarrassing run in my pantyhose that I don’t realize until I get to work. Coffee machine is not working. A dork cuts me off in the parking lot. My boss leaves me a mysterious angry-sounding message on my voicemail. All these little things can trigger a bad day; however, if you respond to them in a positive way, your day will likely get better.
Tackling A Bad Day
I start with acceptance. (If you haven’t noticed, I am all about the art of acceptance.) That is because acceptance is a powerful tool, as long as you don’t think of it as being defeated. Instead, think of acceptance as being the bigger person and moving on.
When my day starts out crappy, I accept it. I often say to myself, “So, this is how it is going to be.. Well, okay then! I guess 1 bad day out 364 good days is just inevitable.” Because it’s true! Looking at my life, I rarely experience a bad day, but I know balance requires me to experience a couple bad days here and there.
However, I can tell you that streaks of bad days mean something is absolutely wrong and something in life must be immediately addressed and resolved. Or wear black socks, my family believes wearing black socks is the key to ending all bad days. Does it work? I don’t know, I haven’t tried it yet. But, I do know it never hurts to try, especially, if you are already having a bad day.
For the little things, we can leave the black socks in the sock drawer. The important thing is to react positive to bad things. For example, let’s talk about those bad things that used to trigger a bad work day for me and how to look on the bright side.
The ridiculous wardrobe: Look, I am not alone in the world procrastinating laundry day. I am also not much of a fashionista, so my wardrobe is kind of limited. But I do own a few things in my closet that I hate to wear and only wear if necessary. BUT, I have to remember, at one time I must have liked it; otherwise, I wouldn’t have bought it. Also, its just one day I have to wear it and I will do laundry as soon as I get home after work (Lesson learned!). I can always cover it up by wearing a jacket or sweater (luckily every office I ever worked in feels like the Arctic). Furthermore, this may be a little over optimistic, but maybe I will set a new trend in the fashion world. It’s just for 8 hours. I will be fine.
Embarrassing run in pantyhose: A former boss of mine once told me not to sweat the small stuff while tossing a small bottle of clear nail polish at me. Clear nail polish stops pantyhose runs from getting worse. She advised me that if pantyhose were part of my wardrobe, it would be wise to keep a bottle of clear nail polish in my purse. I obviously did one better and never wore dresses to the office again, but it’s still solid advice to pass on to others. Anyways, the point is, women get it. If you have a run in her pantyhose, don’t worry. If you address it to your boss, they will most likely allow you to make a quick run to the store or just let you bend the dress code for a day and ditch the panty hose for a couple of hours (especially, if it happens towards the end of the day). There is no need to get upset over the things you cannot control and others will often understand.
Coffee Machine isn’t working: Nothing more ruins my day than a day without coffee! These are the days I focus more on the clock rather than my work; counting down to lunch time when I can get coffee. But, this distraction can cause me to make mistakes in my work or fall behind, creating a bad day for myself. So, best to let it go. Get a soda from the vending machine or grab something on break (if allowed). It isn’t the end of the world and you may find, you are just as strong without it.
Road Rage: I do not understand drivers who cut people off and then flip them off, as if the person they cut off were in the wrong. Blows my mind. I can let it go, because I can quickly recognize that person is obviously having a worse day than me. But, I know some people who would take that personally. They wouldn’t be upset that a 1 ton vehicle cut them off, but more so that the driver of that vehicle flipped them off. This is how one creates a bad day, because I know some people who would just dwell on this incident all day, causing them to make mistakes and experience an overall bad day for themselves. It’s best to just let it go. Of course, drivers shouldn’t cut off other drivers or flip off people they truly do not know, but this is how bad days spread. By reacting to another’s person’s bad day, can cause you to have a bad day too.
Angry Voicemails: It’s one thing to receive a voicemail from an angry client who is upset at the world, but one from your boss is the worst! But don’t sweat the small stuff, remember? I learned along time ago, bosses are stressed. Every single one of them, no exceptions. Some might lead you to think they are not stressed, but I guarantee they are just handling stress in a different way. I have worked with a few bosses/supervisors who were just quiet when they were experiencing a stressful day, but I have also had the pleasure (sarcasm) of working with bosses/supervisors who just tore the heads off of anyone who were within several feet of them. I cannot tell you how many times I have received an angry vauge voicemail from a boss. I walk into their office wondering if I am going to get fired or something, but turns out my boss was just upset over something that had nothing to do with me. If I had taken their rude voicemail personally, it would have ruined my entire day. Instead, its just another person having a bad day and if I react negatively to their bad day, I will end up having a bad day too.
Bad days are contagious. Some people with bad days want other people to have bad days too. They want others to feel the way they feel to make themselves feel better. But, there are those who don’t know their bad day is affecting others.
Don’t take it personal: Do not take it personal when you walk into a person’s bad day. Be kind, understanding, and let it go as soon as you move on.
Accept bad days: Sometimes bad days are inevitable and bad things happen. It is like a natural balance of things, so it is best to not respond to things we cannot control.
It is okay to feel: It’s okay to feel sad, angry, or frustrated; just don’t let it ruin an entire day. Learn to let go of the little things and try not to dwell too much on the big things.
Look on the bright side: I am a strong believer that there is a bright side to everything; it just requires a bit of creative thinking.
Bad Things Can Teach Good Lessons
We can’t prevent all bad things from happening, but we can certainly prevent ourselves from having a bad day by better responding to bad things that do happen.
This morning, my youngest got onto the counter, grabbed her sister’s morning drink and poured it out onto the counter. No big deal, right?
Well, unfortunately, it is very upsetting for several different reasons:
It is wasteful. Even if Marshall, the Paw Patrol toy had a good time, it is still wasteful.
It was a Pedisure Gain and Grow milk-drink for my oldest who needs the extra calories and nutrients.
Pedisure is not cheap, a 6 pack costs nearly $12. That is $2 per 8oz bottle. Totally not cheap at all.
A septic tank smells better than dried Pedisure milk. So gross!
So, how does that saying go? “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” Exactly! Sure, it’s an expensive waste. Sure, I probably could have done something to prevent it. But, it happened and it is now done and over with. I refuse to let this small thing ruin my entire day by putting me in a bad mood.
This means that I have to let it go by calmly recognizing that such an incident sucks. I will not get upset, otherwise my girls will get upset and that might put them in a bad mood all day too, creating a bad day for everyone!
Instead, I explain to them that it is a waste and have them both clean it up. This way, if they spill anything again, they will continue to tell me about it, because they will not be afraid of getting into trouble. If I yell at them and clean it up myself, it might teach my kids to lie about messes and expect me to clean up their own messes. If I blame them, they will think it is okay to blame others. Remaining calm teaches them to remain calm, admit when they are wrong, and take self-responsibility. In short, there are good lessons that can come out of bad things that happen.
Take Control Of Your Bad Day
Remember that you can prevent a bad day from happening by better responding to the bad things that happen during the day. It isn’t always going to be easy. Bad days are inevitable, but it’s up to you on how that bad day affects you. Also, you can always wear a pair of black socks to help fight against a bad day or two. 🙂