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12 steps your teen can take to get through a bad day

By Dr Andrew Fuller 3 min read

They don’t happen often but they do happen. Share this list with your teen who’s going through one of those days that are so awful they (and you) want them over as quickly as possible.

On days like this it’s hard to see a cheery side to anything. The mega-vicious malevolence of these moments puts these days into a class of their own. It is useful to remember these days are rare. However, exceptionally bad days call for exceptional responses.

1. Stop trying to improve things

As a general rule most attempts to improve things on a bad day backfire. So stop. The world is having "one of those days" and you especially are having one of those days. You can’t fix it. Accept it and focus on finding ways to get though it.

2. Switch off

To borrow a sporting phrase, on the great scoreboard of life, "retired–hurt" should appear next to your name. Consider switching off the phone and social media.

3. You can’t predict the future

On bad days, we can fall into the trap of feeling that life is always going to be like this. This is to deny the true evil vortex that a day like this creates. Accept it for its unique rottenness. On the scales of life, this day is the absolute pits.

4. Control your exposure to other people

On tough days, having too many people to deal with can be draining and toxic. People love to have opinions about things but on this day of all days you may not want them shared with you. You may have a few trusted calm people who you can let know, "I’m having a bad day today. I don’t need you to try and fix it but I would really appreciate spending some time talking to you about other things so I can get through it."

5. Seek out beauty

On these days you may not be at your most appreciative. Even so, walking in gardens or just outdoors may help.

6. Get physical

Generally, exercise alters our mood so you could go for a walk, a run, to a gym or for a bike ride. Be careful though. Take care of yourself. We don’t want you to end up with a twisted ankle or in a head-over-the-handlebars situation.

7. Spruce yourself up a bit

Have a shower or bath. Freshen up. Put on some scent that smells good. Wear clothes that make you feel good. Just because you feel awful doesn’t mean you can’t look great.

8. Eat

This is not the day for denial. Cook or buy your favourite foods. Think pasta. Think chocolate. Think comfort. Enjoy these foods and try not to guilt-trip yourself later on for enjoying them.

9. Music

On days like this some people find dour, sad music to be a comfort. It’s almost as if it reminds us that someone else in the history of humanity has bad days also. Others, of course, might like to play pump-you-up-positive music.

10. Talk to an animal

Find a pet or even a passing bird and confide the sort of day you’re having to them. They’ll listen. Who knows? They might even secretly think, "There are days being human sounds like it would be horrible."

11. Take a check up from the neck up

On tough days, our thoughts go around and around inside our heads. Sometimes we blame ourselves. Expressing your thoughts can start to shift them. Write it out, draw it out, grab a musical instrument and play it out. Get those troubles out of your head and on to some paper.

12. Acceptance

Accepting that the day is one when the excrement has hit the air ventilation system big time goes a long way towards surviving it. Treat yourself as you would kindly treat a friend who is feeling poorly. Make yourself a nice warm drink and go to bed early. Tomorrow is going to be a different day.


Extracted from Your Best Life at Any Age by Andrew Fuller (Bad Apple Press).

Dr Andrew Fuller is an author and clinical psychologist specialising in brains, learning and resilience.