Do you feel like nothing’s going right today? Create a personalized bad day backup plan for those days when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed.  Learn to reframe all-or-nothing thinking with our 4R framework and discover research-backed tips for changing your mood for the better.  You don’t want to miss this snackable episode full of tactical ideas, habits, and actions that can act as a hard reset on a bad day.

here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [1:38] Understand the cognitive bias toward labeling things good or bad and shift your thinking to more middle ground. 
  • [4:26] Learn the 4 R Framework and view your day as 4 distinct parts: 
    • Refresh in the morning
    • Revive in the mid-morning
    • Reset in the afternoon
    • Rest in the evening
  • [6:31] Refer to your Recharge List of actions, behaviors, or things you can do to fill up your cup and act as a hard reset on a bad day. 
  • [7:05] Get moving! Even 5 minutes of movement of any kind, especially if it’s outside, can physiologically change your mood for the better. 
  • [8:45] Find some peace and quiet. Silence the background noise, notifications, and news for a few minutes to feel more grounded. 
  • [9:48] Reach out to a loved one to help you feel more connected. 

links mentioned in this episode

The Feel Good Effect Book

How to Recharge Yourself

The Joy Equation: How to use Exercise for more Happiness, Hope, Connection & Courage with Kelly McGonigal, PhD

read the transcript

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:01)

You’re listening to The Feel Good Effect: what to do when you’re having a bad day. Well, you need a bad day backup plan, and that’s what we’re gonna talk about in this episode. Let’s make it happen

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:16)

Radically simple and ridiculously doable. The Feel Good Effect will help you redefine wellness on your terms. Hi, I’m your host Robyn Conley Downs. And I believe that wellness isn’t about achieving another set of impossible standards, but instead finding what works for you, drawing from cutting-edge science on mindfulness habit and behavior change. This podcast offers a collection of small mindset shifts that allow for more calm, clarity, and joy in everyday life and allows you to embrace the idea that gentle is the new perfect. I invite you to listen in, as we cut through the clutter and find the small shifts that create huge changes in your life. Less striving, more ease. It’s time to feel good.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:05)

Well, Hey, Feel Good, fam. I am so glad you’re here. Today we are talking about the bad day backup plan and it’s what to do when you’re having a bad day. So we’ve all been there. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed and spill your coffee down the front of your shirt. Maybe you get a rude comment or a melt kid meltdown, or a fight with a roommate or a fight with a partner and all of a sudden you’re in bad day spiral. And so it happens to all of us.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:38)

And I want us to have a little bit of a backup plan of what to do when that happens, but I will say this, labeling things as good and bad is very all-or-nothing thinking, which we are predisposed to. I write about this in my book, The Feel Good Effect that we have a cognitive bias toward labeling things, either in-or-out all-or-nothing good or bad. And the mental part of the bad day backup plan is that realizing that they labeling the whole day is bad really kind of gets you into a headspace, sets you up for that all-or-nothing thinking. So thinking in that more middle ground area is definitely part of a bad day backup plan, but I should rewind for a second. And just tell you that at its core, a bad day backup plan is just a set of mental tricks and habits or actions that you can take to kind of get your yourself out of that bad day moment or that bad day mentality. And it’s going to be based on your preferences and your personality. And so I’m not gonna give you an exact list, but I will help me help you make one for yourself. And I’ll tell you some of the things that I like to do.

Robyn Conley Downs: (03:03)

I’ll also say that in the world of self-help and toxic positivity, we can get too wrapped up in the idea that we should always be happy and never have bad days. And so the idea of this episode is not to tell you that you should always be happy and that things are always perfect and that you should never feel bad or have negative emotions. Negative emotions are part of life. Hard days are part of life. Arguments and meltdowns, family members are part of life, and we’re not trying to avoid those or pretend that they don’t exist. But I know for many of you, you don’t wanna get in that cycle of, of every day feeling like, Ugh, it’s a bad day, it’s a bad day. And then you feel like you can’t get out of that. You’re not living your life. You’re not feeling good. You’re not adding in these things that can kind of turn things around. So that’s where we’re coming from. But almost a disclaimer that I’m definitely not telling you that you, the bad days, aren’t something that are allowed for that we hold space for. And sometimes you just need to have one. And so we don’t need to ignore the, that fact, but we can also have a little bit of room for some ideas and actions to get us out of it for when we’re done. And we’re, we don’t wanna be in those da bad days anymore. So as always, I’m gonna give you some questions and some journaling prompts and you can make a list for yourself.

Robyn Conley Downs: (04:26)

But my first very tactical suggestion is to think of your day in four parts. And this is a framework that I use. It’s called The Four Rs and it’s morning, mid-morning, afternoon, and evening. And those R stand for Refresh, Revive, Reset, and Rest corresponding to the four parts of your day. And I created this framework to help with routines because we can feel so overwhelmed with this idea of morning routines. And of course we don’t have to have a giant morning routine. We can kind of take care of ourselves throughout the day and not have it be overwhelming. And I find for some of my clients that plugging it in like two times, refresh in the morning, revive in the mid-morning, reset in the afternoon, and rest in the evening is really, really helpful. But I use the same framework for our bad day backup plan, because if you think about your whole day, and then you’ve labeled it bad because maybe bad things happened, then you’re committed, right? Like, okay, this whole day is, is shot and I’m gonna lean into the suck. But on the other hand, if you think of your day in four parts, you can almost compartmentalize and say, you know, I had a really rough morning, but I’m gonna revive here mid-morning. I’m gonna do some things that kind of reset me in the afternoon, and I’m gonna be able to salvage what’s left of the day. So that is kind of the framework for the bad day backup plan is to just stop thinking of, of labeling a good day or a bad day. But if things are going difficult or hard or bad, that you can know that you have many opportunities through the day to turn it around into kind of revive and reset. And that’s the beauty of having a little list of some things that you can do so that you don’t end up with a whole day gone sideways.

Robyn Conley Downs: (06:31)

The next thing would be to have your recharge list, which we talked about conveniently last week. So a recharge list is just a list of habits, actions, behaviors, environments, things that you can do that make you feel more like yourself, that fill your cup. And in this case can act as a hard reset on a bad day. So all the more reason have that recharge list. Maybe it’s a meal that you find really nourishing, definitely some kind of movement.

Robyn Conley Downs: (07:05)

I think movement is the number one way to kind of reset on a bad day is to get your body moving and ideally outside. And whether that’s for an hour or five minutes, it’s amazing the actual physiological and mental benefits that five minutes of movement can make. And so for me, my bad day, backup plan always includes after I’ve kind of said, segmented my day, what can I do physically? Can I get out for a walk? Can I just dance it out? Do I need to turn on some kind of online workout and do that? And even if it means that I don’t get as much done that day, and usually that’s what it means, I feel so much better that it’s completely worth it. So turning off notifications, turning off email, turning the noise and just doing something physical, maybe turning on your favorite song and dancing. When you move your body, there are actual things that happen in your brain and things that happen in your body. Kelly McGonigal. Who’s been on the show before, who wrote The Joy of Movement, talks about research around the feel better effect, and the feel better effect can happen within just a few minutes of physical activity and can physiologically change your mood. And so that is my number one bad day back up plan is to scrap whatever I was doing, whatever the plan was, whatever thing I was supposed to be getting done and move my body, especially if I can get outside and do it, that, that, and like being in the fresh air. And if you can get any vitamin D it will make a world of difference.

Robyn Conley Downs: (08:49)

So you could again, refer to your recharge list, but if you don’t wanna do the list or you don’t have one, and you’re thinking about your day in four parts and you’ve tried movement, then my other two fallbacks are silence. So if you’re a meditator, I would meditate, but I know a lot of you, that’s kind of still a struggle. So just turning everything off, turn off the noise, turn off the background, the TV, the podcast, don’t turn off this one, the notifications, the email, whatever it is, if you can really find some connection back to yourself in some silence, whether that’s through meditation or through breathwork or through just sitting quietly for a few minutes, get grounded again, maybe get yourself a warm drink. That few minutes can really make a really big difference.

Robyn Conley Downs: (09:48)

And then the third thing that I always look to is some kind of connection. You don’t have to do this alone. You don’t have to be alone and you don’t have to be the only one that tries to fix things. And so if you can have a bad day backup plan, a friend that you can text or call, a family member that you can text or call and just say, Hey, you know what? This day is not going well. And they, you know, that they’ll say some things that can pick you up and lift you up, then definitely take that support so that you know, it, it doesn’t have to be something you have to go through alone. And especially if you can find a friend who can just hold space for you. And I think that’s a word that some, a phrase is, some people aren’t really super familiar with or comfortable with, but holding space just means that you don’t, that that person doesn’t give you advice or try to tell you it’s all fine. Everything’s fine. But just allows just to tell them like, this is what’s going on. This has been really hard and they just hold the space. Yeah. That is hard. That does suck. And I’m really sorry. And that, you know that you’re not going through it alone.

Robyn Conley Downs: (10:58)

So this is a super short snackable episode, but the practice is really powerful. And that’s the amazing thing about what we teach here and The Feel Good Effect is it’s not always about an hour podcast. It’s about that two-minute walk. And sometimes the most powerful practices are the simplest and this is one of them. So just to review bad day backup plan is really just having a set of practices and, and actions that you can take if you wanna get out of a bad day or just lean into it, that’s an option too. And that would look like thinking about your day in the four parts: refresh, revive, reset, and rest.

Robyn Conley Downs: (11:38)
And knowing that a day can be thought of into, in com compartmentalized so you’re not stuck in a bad day. If the morning goes off the rails and then having your recharge list, or just a set of things that you know can make you feel better and nurtured, whether that’s through a meal or through movement, which is my definite recommendation or through connection or through some other means that you know, works for you. Maybe the quiet isn’t what you need. Maybe you need it to be really loud, but you just know that about yourself. And you’re able to take agents, have agency have ownership of that and do the things that you need to do so you can feel good and move on with your day. If there are things that you do as part of your bad day backup plan, I’d love to hear about it. I’m @realfoodwholelife Instagram and is where you can find all of show notes and resources for this episode and all the rest.

Robyn Conley Downs: (12:37)
As always, I wanna thank you for being part of The Feel Good movement, and for giving this time for yourself. Hopefully, if you do have a bad day, this can be part of your backup plan. Thanks again so much for listening. Until next time, here’s to feeling good.

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