1. Accept the situation. You may have got out the wrong side of the bed in the morning and from then on everything went against you - you were late for an appointment, missed a vital deadline and messed up on a grand scale at work. Or you lost your temper with your youngest child, had a bout of road rage, or were deeply upset by a caustic comment from a so-called friend. It is all too easy and tempting after a setback to dwell on the incident and maybe even blow it out of proportion. But unless your prolonged reflection offers a positive insight into the situation, a solution, or a way of avoiding further upset, it is not productive. Try to accept life's ups and downs, good days and bad days. Acknowledge what has happened, learn where you went wrong, then move on with the rest of your day/life.
2. Reward yourself. If you have had a difficult few days or weeks and life seems to be full of grey or downright black clouds then it is important that you add a little sunshine to the mix. You can do this in a number of ways. A little reward is all you may need to boost your mood. A bunch of flowers, a long soak in a fragrant bath, a walk by the beach, a bar of mouthwatering chocolate, a catch-up with a good friend, a night in front of the TV, or some retail therapy if your budget allows. It does not matter what you choose as long as you see it as a treat and as something which will make you feel good.
3. Take action. If something is bothering you, be it your health or relationship, debt, workplace stress, or a housing problem, try to find a solution to it. Inaction or worrying about something will drain you and will not bring you closer to resolving the issue. If you have health concerns make an appointment to see your doctor, or contact people trained in debt management if your issue is financial. Equally, your local citizens advice office will give you information on your entitlements, or your union or solicitor will tell you about your rights at work. Avoid letting problems mount up. Confide in a trusted friend or family, or a counsellor, if you believe you may need additional support.
4. Establish connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or work colleagues are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you will strengthen your resilience.
5. Avoid viewing challenging situations or crises as insurmountable problems. You cannot alter the fact that highly stressful events happen but you can change how you view and respond to them.
6. Draw up realistic goals. Maybe you are having a bad day because you failed to meet your own exacting targets. If so, it could be that your goalposts are too high and you are setting yourself up for failure over and over again. Instead of having very elaborate plans, aim instead to do something, even if it seems very small, that helps you move towards your goals or life plan. Instead of focusing on tasks which seem unachievable, ask yourself what one thing can you accomplish today which will move you in the direction in which you want to go.
7. Be decisive. OK, things may have gone awry but it is better to act on difficult situations rather than detaching yourself completely from a problem or stressor and wishing it would go away.
8. Look for opportunities for self-discovery. Try to think along the lines that every cloud has a silver lining. Even the blackest ones. People often learn something about themselves and may find they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggles.
9. Nurture a positive view of yourself. This should be an ongoing exercise. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts will boost your self confidence and help you bounce back from adversity. Reframing your view of challenges will help, too. Try to see them as opportunities for growth and development.
10. Be aware of your self-talk. Are your thoughts about yourself usually negative? Do you put yourself down and diminish your achievements? Most of us have harsh inner critics. Vow to change this by being kinder to yourself, especially during a difficult time, and by replacing negative messages with positive, ego-boosting ones.
11. Build in some stress-busters into your day. Care for your body and mind. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. Pamper yourself with a long soak in a scented bath, eat dinner at home by candlelight or watch the sunset. Treat yourself to a massage, a facial, a game of long overdue golf, or dinner out.
12. Plan ahead. This will give order to your life, prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and should reduce your stress levels significantly. Hopefully, it will also reduce the number of bad days you experience. Make a list of everything you need to do each day/week/month (whichever you prefer ) from completing a project to decorating your home to paying bills on time. Rank duties in order of importance and tick them off as you get them done. Avoid setting yourself unrealistic deadlines.
13. Draw on previous problem solving skills. What worked for you the last time you had a bad day, encountered a difficulty, or struggled to find your way out of a potentially morale crushing situation? Maybe it was that you were more relaxed and consequently got less flustered or that you stepped back from the situation and gave yourself time to review what was going on, or that you "slept on it" and in the cold light of the following day things did not seem so bad. Remember problems always have solutions, however, these may not always be apparent. Equally, they may not be easy. But it will always be possible to do something.
14. Keep a gratitude journal. This will encourage you to focus on all the good things in your life. Ideally, it should be done daily. Jot down even four things for which you are grateful. It could be for waking up after a good night's sleep, passing an exam, getting an unexpected smile from a stranger, the fragrance of roses, the happiness you get from spending time with your family, or the unconditional love of a pet. As you begin to search for reasons to be grateful each day it will become a habit and will fill your life with cheer. It will change your way of thinking and encourage you to focus on the fact that the glass is half full rather than half empty.
15. Keep things in perspective. This always helps, particularly when you are going through a challenging time.
16. Try to be objective. When you are in the thick of a situation it is difficult to view it clearly. Step back and look at it as if it were someone else's problem. If s/he came to you for advice what would you say. What course of action would you recommend, what should they change, and how can you help them create a smoother path in life.