How to Handle a Hard Day at the Office


We all have bad days. If you don’t…. Well then I need to know which magic potion you’re drinking in order to avoid them.

The majority of us though can probably recall a terrible day we had in the past few months, and it probably makes us just as frustrated and angry thinking about it. It’s the kind of day that drives you into a blind frustration, leave you shoulders aching and perpells us to a beer or bottle of wine after work. Yes… I mean the full bottle.

Sometimes it’s hard to overcome a bad day. Bad days dig their claws into us and hold on for dear life. The trick? Might be hard to define, and everyone’s different – but you should consider some of the following tricks to make sure you’re handling work stress appropriately, and working through each and every hard day you encounter moving forward, in the best way possible.

  1. Take a deep breath

This is something I need to be better with. When something stressful comes along in my life, I immediately go into “fix-it” mode. I instantly work towards finding a resolution for the thing that’s stressing me out, or shut down completely. Neither are good.

What should you be doing? Take a moment, and take a breath. Before letting this stressful moment engulf you like a giant blue whale eating krill – take the moment to just breathe and be present. Taking one deep breath can begin lowering blood pressure, promotes better blood flow, decreases stress and increases your energy levels.

So before something takes over your day, you should take a second to breathe through what might be bothering you. It might help you take a stressful situation, and turn it into a positive one.

  1. Take action & don’t react

This one is an issue for a lot of people. The solution? Zen habits and being a little more mindful.

When something bad happens, most of us react before taking a moment to think and make cognitive choices that might better the situation. Reacting in a situation can be a huge stressor for some, but it can also get you into some pretty sticky situations. Reacting at something a co-worker said, or reacting at a comment you boss made in a meeting could get you into hot water, which is the opposite of what you want.

Instead of reacting to a sticky situation you encounter, take action instead, and learn to be more mindful of each situation you encounter. Since there might be aspects of a situation that are out of your control (i.e.: what your boss may have said, or what your co-workers comment really meant) think of how you can change the situation from your perspective, and think of the things you DO have control over.

As an example – if your co-worker said something to you in the lunch room, maybe consider eating elsewhere to avoid the conflict. If your boss said something off putting in a meeting, maybe set aside some time to ask them for clarification. There are many different actions you can make to enhance a situation.

“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?” – Lao Tzu

Remember, before reacting… think of which actions you can make to rectify the situation. You aren’t in control of someone else’s actions – but you can control your own.

  1. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

I realize that sometimes, it’s impossible to schedule things in your life. Work becomes hectic, you miss a client call, and your co-worker needs about a dozen different things from you. There are daily interruptions, for sure…(mine include a giant shape shifting dog under my desk that I swear is permanently hungry…) but having a schedule and a routine can enhance your day, and help you have a fewer stressful situations appear.

Take this an example… I’m a firm believer in sprint planning. If you aren’t familiar with sprint planning then do some digging. I swear it’ll change your life & business.

Sprint planning is a work structure that is focused on a two week, or month long “sprint’. You organize all the tasks you need to have completed in the next few weeks, and update your team daily on how those tasks are going. You have daily stand-up’s explaining what you’re currently working on, if you have any blockers and when the task will be completed. After each and every sprint (2 weeks or month) you reflect on what worked over the last few weeks, what didn’t work and what you would like to change in the future.

Sprints help keep you and your co-workers accountable for your tasks, and your goals. They help keep you organized, and have transparency into what everyone is working on in order to drive initiatives.

  1. Clarify, and ask for specific requirements

A big stresser for employees and employers is miscommunication. Nothing is worse than not seeing the full picture, or getting something done and it being totally different than what you boss wanted. Literally… the worst.

So what can you do to combat this? ASK! Ask for clarification, and learn which specific requirements you’ll need in order to finish the task at hand.

I know what you’re thinking though… “I don’t want to ask in case I’m off base and get in trouble!”

I don’t care! If you need clarification on anything, it’s your job to ask for clarification. Asking your boss, manager or even co-worker for clarification doesn’t mean you’re dumb, confused or even not hard working… it’s literally showing the opposite.

Asking questions shows people you WANT to do a good job, and you want to do that job once. Asking questions shows your determination to succeed, and your desire to grow professionally. If you’re too scared to ask, then the honest answer is that the position you’re in might not be the best one for you. List your questions, your concerns and your opinions, and get asking, kid. No one’s going to hold your hand through it all, and no one’s going to do the work for you. Pull up your boot straps, and be accountable for your success.


At the end of the day, we’re all going to have bad days. I wish there was a secret serum that would help us all avoid tragic work days, but there honestly isn’t… (that I know of…yet)

Since you’ll have a rough day or encounter in the foreseeable future, take some of these tricks with you. Find the things that work for you in stressful situations, and stick to them. They’ll be your saving grace the next time you find yourself battling the sharp talons of a bad day.

Take a deep breath, ask questions and take appropriate and positive actions. With these skills, you’ll be enjoying your glass of wine – and no longer needing it as a stress release.

“Elysse Bujold started her career at Disney Interactive Studios, where she grew on a project team advancing initiatives for the company.  To further her professional growth and development, she then decided to join StreetText – an online platform for Real Estate agents to Generate Leads using Facebook Ad Marketing. Over the last year, Elysse has been driving marketing strategies and initiatives as well as content creating. StreetText is rooted in Kelowna, British Columbia.”


Paul Petersen

Paul Petersen