Six things to remember after a tough day at work

By Elise Britten on 27-04-2017
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A really bad day at work can shake even the most confident of workers. That overwhelming feeling of being physically and emotionally drained, can leave you thinking that you just can’t cope.

Here are some key things to remember when this happens to you.

1. You are not alone

Often it seems like everyone else but you has it all together, which is exaggerated by the one-dimensional perfection projected on social media. However, everyone has unsuccessful days and moments of doubt. It is estimated that 70 percent of people experience a phenomenon called the Imposter Syndrome at times, where they fear they will be exposed as a fraud.

After a terrible day you can start to wonder if you belong where you are and if you have what it takes. You do—you have got to where you are through hard work and talent and a tough day or two doesn’t change that.

2. You can learn from your mistakes

It is clichéd, but nonetheless true, that making mistakes is an important part of learning and growing all throughout our lives. There is no point in our careers where we become immune to making them. If anything, the consequences of mistakes just grow as we progress. So it’s as good a time as any to learn how to cope with them.

Your colleagues will respect you for openly accepting responsibility, and apologising, for problems that are your fault. Pinpoint the causes and consider how to prevent the same issues in the future. However, remember to keep things in perspective, mistakes are rarely as catastrophic as they first seem and they don’t make you a failure.

3. Shake off what isn’t your fault

We have all been blamed for a problem that wasn’t our fault, or been verbally attacked about something that was done with the best of intentions.

Being someone who takes responsibility for their actions, does not mean beating yourself up over things outside of your control. Often we can be our own harshest critics. Try to get a second opinion from someone impartial who knows the situation.

It is easier said than done, but let go of anything that doesn’t provide constructive lessons on something you can actually change.

4. Give yourself a break

If you have faced particularly bad set-backs, it can be tempting to stay longer hours to try to turn things around, long past a time that you can. Go home, have a vent or a cry if you need to. Then draw a line under the day and do something that you enjoy.

Leaving work behind is really difficult, but it is one of the most important recovery strategies. If you manage to truly relax and get your mind off your terrible day, you will return refreshed with more mental and emotional capacity to face your problems.

5. Don’t pass on your bad day

The reason you might have had a bad day, is because someone else was. You may have just been the easy scapegoat for the person who yelled at you for very little reason on the phone. Don’t pass the cycle on. It is easy to snap at someone else when you have been put on edge, but it won’t make you feel any better.

Instead, try consciously being part of brightening someone else’s day. It can be hard to feel confident to do so after being emotionally crushed, but make the effort and it will brighten your day too. Small acts of kindness, from donating to a charity, to offering to take a family’s photo, will help you feel better about yourself, when others are getting you down.

6. It will get better

The problems you are facing will pass, probably faster than you expect. Next time you face similar issues it will be a bit easier. Ultimately there is no substitute for experience and there is no way to learn but the hard way.

Elise Britten writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency specialising in matching candidates to their dream internship. Check out their graduate jobs listings for roles. Or; if you’re looking to hire an intern, have a look at their innovative Video CVs.

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