Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


6 Science-Backed Strategies to Turn a Bad Day Around

What to do on those days when everything seems to be going wrong.

It is so easy to start the day on the wrong foot. You spill coffee all over your white shirt, the dog decided to do his business on the new carpet, the milk you already poured in your cereal is spoiled. You know those days—everything seems to be going wrong.

So, what can you do to turn your bad day around?

Here are six strategies to stop that downward spiral in its tracks:

1. Go take a walk: Studies show spending time outdoors puts things in perspective and stops negative thoughts.

2. Do something for someone else: Buy coffee for the person behind you in line. Send an email to an old friend.

3. Get specific: Figure out what exactly is bugging you. Once you pinpoint the problem it is easier to deal with it.

4. Flip it around: Take ten minutes to think about three things that are going well in your life. It can’t all be bad.

5. Set yourself up for small wins: Write down one thing you know you can accomplish today and do it.

6. Mix it up: Instead of stewing at your desk and feeling sorry for yourself, do something different. Bust out of your routine. The moment you take yourself off autopilot, you ground yourself in the present. This helps you stop ruminating about all the bad things that have happened.

Even if you don’t feel like doing any of the above and prefer to wallow in your bad mood, it’s worth doing it to spare those around you. Bad moods are contagious. The good news is good moods are contagious too.

For science-backed, actionable insights delivered directly to your inbox, visit and sign-up for The Weekly Dose

More from Samantha Boardman M.D.
More from Psychology Today