Real Simple readers share their best strategies for improving a no good, very bad day. 

By Real Simple
Updated August 24, 2017
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I play the tuba! How can you possibly have a bad day when playing the tuba? —Ariel Downing, Sheridan, Wyoming


Journaling usually helps. —Claire Alexis Barden, Lowell, Massachusetts


Controlled breathing. I learned this from a friend years ago, and it serves me so well. Breathe in slowly for four counts and out for four counts at the same speed, then increase by one for each round until you reach 10. Allow your mind to focus on the numbers. You can start back at four if you have time. —Betsy Boyer, Normandy Park, Washington


I make myself a nice, large cup of coffee and, while drinking it, think of all the people I am lucky to have in my life. —Rivkah Felman, Teaneck, New Jersey


If I have a lousy day at work, I love to go home and cook. Using my creativity in the kitchen helps me relax and think through whatever is causing the stress. —Carrie Mihalko, McKeesport, Pennsylvania


I’ll pick up a copy of one of my favorite books and reread only the best chapters. —@FINDINGSYDNEY


I make a trip to my local animal shelter and spend time talking to and petting the dogs and cats waiting to be adopted. Very relaxing for me and enjoyed by them. —Rita Magurno, Waverly, New York


I put the electronics away and go play outside with my kids. It is amazing what a game of tag can do for the soul. — Jessica Deri, Spokane, Washington


I turn on my favorite music when I get home and dance around the apartment in my jammies! — Maggie R., Louisville, Kentucky


I do something I can control, like make my bed, clean the kitchen, or straighten out a drawer. These mundane tasks help me organize my thoughts, feel like I can manage, and give me some quiet. —Amy McCarthy, Birmingham, Alabama


When we are having a bad day, my family calls a do-over. If things are going wrong, negative thoughts and feelings can begin to pile up. A do-over gives everyone a chance to start fresh. Sometimes that’s all we need to feel more positive and move forward. —Laura Haney, Philadelphia


I say a quick prayer and move on. —Stacy L. Smith, Boston


I reread my worn copy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. It helps me remember we all have days, and that makes it easier to tackle what I need to do. —Anne Curtin, Lino Lakes, Minnesota


I go for a run. It gives me time to think, or not think, whichever is right for that day. —@TGRUNFIT


I look for a perfect patch of green grass, lie down in it, and watch the clouds pass by. Research says being in nature may lower stress. —@LIFESTYLEDITOR


To get myself out of the dumps, I make a step-by-step plan. When everything seems overwhelming and depressing, I focus on small things. The plan can be as simple as taking a shower, getting coffee, and calling a friend. Pretty soon life starts to feel more together, and I can overcome the road block of the blahs. —Alana June Dunn, Meridian, Idaho


I’m a big believer in faking it until you make it. I put a big smile on my face, and in a few minutes my day is better. —April Toko, Bountiful, Utah