5 Tips for Dealing with a Really Bad Day at Work
We have all had them. They are sneaky and persistent like those dark clouds that show up right before the nice backyard barbecue you had planned. That is right; I am talking about the really bad day at work that crops up out of nowhere and zaps your positivity for a few days.
Let’s face it; there isn’t much we can do to ward off the occasional bad day at work. If it is a chronic thing, then we are writing a different article that includes polishing up your resume and searching the help wanted ads for a new nursing job. Since we are talking about a bad day, let’s take a look at ways that we can minimize the damage to your positive outlook and make sure a bad day is just that, one bad day.
- Do a quick mental assessment. The mind is a very powerful tool that can literally turn a good day bad and vice versa. One of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® comes from Habit 1: Be Proactive where he talks about how we can create our own weather. What happens to us is not as important as how we respond to it. When having a bad day, it is important to assess what it is that is causing us to respond negatively or have stress and then turn our mind loose on responding to it differently or creating a strategy to deal with it.
- Create a small success in your day. Sometimes all it takes to regain your positive momentum is a single success. Large or small, any success will give you a feeling of accomplishment, and in the midst of a tough day, that can be pretty powerful. As a nurse, you have a million things to do throughout your shift and finding something on your list that you can get done will ensure that your day includes an accomplishment.
- Reach Out to Your Mentor. In the healthcare profession, it is always a good idea to have a mentor or someone you can rely on for timely bits of sage advice. The next time you are embroiled in a rough shift, reach out to a mentor on your next break. If you don’t have a mentor, call a good friend who has been a sounding board over the years. Talking to someone who cares and can offer encouragement or advice about turning your day around will go a long way toward you being able to leave the bad shift behind when you walk out the doors at the end of the day.
- Treat Yourself. You’ve made it through your bad shift in one piece. You’re still feeling a little woozy from all of the punishment you absorbed, so it is important that you do something for yourself. Go ahead and splurge on a favorite food or stop off at the salon for a Mani-Pedi. You can even swing by the mall and pick up some expensive bath beads and a new book. Having something to look forward to for “surviving” the bad day and anything else you do for yourself helps ensure that it doesn’t linger into the next day or impact your relationships at home.
- Do a brief autopsy. The last thing you want to do is dwell on a really bad day at work. However, it is important to understand what caused it or the events that turned it into a full-blown lousy day. Once you are in a better place about what transpired at work, try doing a deeper dive into what you learned when you did your quick mental assessment. This can be an important factor in determining how you can avoid the escalating series of events the next time. Was it a process or procedure that failed and turned everything sour? Was it a series of communication errors or disorganization in the unit? Doing an autopsy on the shift will give you an idea of things that you personally, or the entire team can work on, to avoid a repeat performance in the future.
Let’s start a discussion here on the strategies you use to deal with your less than stellar days at work! By sharing our thoughts in the comment section below, we are helping each other find new ways to cope and handle the stressful things that send our day into a downward spiral. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook page.