What do you do when the day or week starts off badly or a poor choice sends you spiraling out of control? Grab that crazy bull by the horns and save your own damn day, that’s what. Here are three easy ways to turn around a bad day:

Focus on taking ONE positive action right now.

We’ve all tried to declutter our homes at some point. Clean out that junk drawer where ten thousand things are jumbled together or sort through that closet housing clothes you haven’t worn in years. It can feel totally overwhelming to even start so where do you begin?

Pro organizers always say that when you’re trying to declutter an area that overwhelms you, to focus on ONE thing. Meaning, just do one drawer, one countertop, one closet, etc.. Then move on to another one. And another. And another. Quickly, you start seeing some progress and the next task doesn’t seem quite as overwhelming!

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

These same principles can apply to days when things seem to be going all wrong. Did you miss the morning workout you really wanted to get in? Choose to make your next meal a healthy one. Did you yell at the kids more than you would have liked at breakfast? Take a few minutes to connect with them later today or consider apologizing for not responding in the way you wanted.

Take one tiny step in a positive direction and see just how good that can make you feel. Just don’t give up on yourself because a moment didn’t go exactly how you planned it.

Accept things out of your control.

Then there are just some things, ok a LOT of things, that you just won’t be able to control. Like your partner picking a hobby that you hate, or your kid needing to go to the bathroom the very INSTANT you have to leave the house to be somewhere on time. Take a deep breath, let it go, and focus on the things you CAN control. 

Once, on a vacation with my three kids and mom, I misread the time our flight was supposed to leave LAX by nearly an hour! We arrived at the airport with only a few minutes to get everyone checked in and through security before the flight took off EXCEPT that I still had to return our rental car.

I began to feel the lump forming in my throat and panic washing over me. I took a deep breath and quietted my mind. There was nothing I could do at this point. I had made a mistake, yes, but now all I could do was try to rectify it. I finally understood what it meant to cry over spilled milk. My tears weren’t going to clean up the milk and they sure weren’t going to get me on that flight.

I sent my mom off with my kids to catch the flight while I did everything that I could in my power to return the car and get back to them.

Most of it was out of my control. I couldn’t make traffic move any faster so I could get to the (OFFSITE!!? WTF?!) rental car facility. I couldn’t control the fact that I had to wait for (OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!) passengers to board (THE SLOWEST MOVING) shuttle bus back to the terminal. I took a deep breath, sat in the front, and settled into an eerie, zen-like state. I resigned myself to the fact that I was missing my flight and took solace in knowing that my mom and kids had made it.

Miraculously, only two and a half minutes later, we arrived at the terminal and my trance snapped. Back in control, it was time to hustle.  I walked quickly towards the TSA agents and explained my situation but I still kept calm. I spoke in a normal voice and I didn’t start crying, which often happens to me in stressful moments like this. I was trying not to turn into that girl, loudly yelling “EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME! MY FLIGHT IS LEAVING!! MY FLIGHT IS LEAVING!” while pushing her way to the front of the line. Nope, it was out of my control at this point.

Maybe another five minutes later, I arrived at my gate to find… a line of people still boarding my flight. I had made it! The flight was running a few minutes late and we all had made it. 

I still can’t believe how lucky I was at that moment. It took me SEVEN AND A HALF MINUTES to go from terminal drop off to gate! a World Record, I’m certain, lol.

I was so grateful and most importantly, relieved and really damn proud of myself for keeping calm. 

Resign yourself to the things you cannot control. Because it is the things you can control that will make the biggest difference in your day and in your life.

Connect with a stranger.

Finally, you can easily turn around a bad day by creating a connection with someone. Of course, connecting with people is generally the opposite of what anyone wants to do, myself included. But here’s a little trick, try connecting with a stranger.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as moms to have our TISH together all the time and that’s just not reality. When we lose our cool or aren’t having a great day, the last thing we want to do is admit that to people we are close to.

Now, Brene Brown and all the “experts” will tell you that this is actually the moment when you want to be open and vulnerable and connect with those you love most like your spouse, family, or close friends.

I tend to behave like a child when my day starts off poorly or things aren’t going my way and I distance myself from others. Connecting with someone close to me can seem like extra work at that moment so, instead, I connect with a stranger.

I make some small talk or crack a joke in the grocery line. I let someone go ahead of me. I compliment the Starbucks Barista on her earrings. I might ask the doorman at an office building how their weekend was.

It’s not a remarkable or remotely memorable conversation and it takes all of thirty seconds. But often, connecting with a stranger for a few moments gives me exactly enough time to “flip” all the switches in my crabby brain back to the right setting! So then, when I am back in a moment with my loved ones, I want to connect with them!

Prince Charming isn’t coming to save the day, mama. But you can save your own day with these easy tricks.

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Renata Musial

Renata is the founder and creator of Renewing Mom, an online community and series of in-person experiences that help moms stay connected to who they are as women and individuals. A recovering attorney, Renata lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and three young kids.

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