Human Resources



How to cope with a bad day

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I’m not just saying this because my editor is subbing this article, but I do love my job and the challenges that come with it.

But I will also be the first to admit I’ve had days where all I want to do is crawl under my desk and nurse a tub of ice cream.

I always assumed complaining about work was a bad thing, but then this week I had dinner with a friend who said, “The day you stop caring enough to whine is the day you need to look for a new job”.

Bad days are part and parcel of any job. While it is perfectly normal (and even expected) to complain about work once in a while, it’s not a solution.

When I am having a crappy day at work, here are some things I do to smooth over the rough edges.

I stand up

We’ve told you about the perks of standing at your desk, and aside from the health benefits, I realised standing while working makes me more focused on my work and less on what’s been bugging me. Not sitting down also eliminates the option of slumping over my desk and curling into a ball of unproductive angst.

I eat

Ah, what will I do without chocolate? (Yes, I’m eating a bar of chocolate as I write this. Yes, it’s before 10am.)

Having a small portion of comfort food or a delicious treat can be a massive help. For some people, this could mean a bowl of fruit for an extra sugar injection. For others, maybe it’s a pint of beer (although, probably not while you’re sat at your desk.) Regardless what your go to pick-me-up is, spending five minutes to distress while munching on something is never a bad idea in my books.

I acknowledge that sh*t happens

Life would be way less fun if everything went the way we wanted it to. Hiccups and unexpected challenges are what keep our work dynamic and excitedly unpredictable.

Sure, it’s no fun when an interviewee drops out of a feature, when I’m overwhelmed with work and past deadline, or can’t find a piece of research I desperately need. Accepting the fact that some things are out of your control does ease the weight a little bit, but recognising when you need to plan, plan (and then plan some more) to overcome the unexpected is even more important.

As the saying goes, “Keep calm and carry on”.

I separate work and play

One thing I’ve found which really helps reduce work-related stress is to not hold grudges. As with many of you, a lot of my work depends on collaborating with other people, be it those in my team or otherwise.

This means there will be occasions where the person I’m mad at or vice versa is the very person sitting just a few desks away. Having the ability to realise we’re upset at the situation and not the person (which may not always be the case, but often is) can make the world of a difference.

When someone I directly work with sets me off, I always try to take five or ten minutes away from the situation, return to address the situation as two working adult professionals, and then hang out with them after office hours and talk about anything but work.

How do you cope with a bad day in the office? Drop me a note at

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Sabrina Zolkifi
Deputy editor
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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