6 Simple Acts That Can Help Turn A Bad Day Around

Life isn't all sunshine and rainbows. There are seasons in the sun — and there are Murphy's law days when everything seems to just go from bad to worse. You wake up late and rush out of the house forgetting to put on pants. You're stuck in a traffic jam on your way to work. Your boss criticizes you in front of others. And before the day is over, your neighbor calls to let you know that a fire broke out in your house because you forgot to turn off the iron. 

Maybe your worst day wasn't this bad, but we've all had our fair share of days when we feel like everything is against us. And no matter how hard we try, we just can't trace that silver lining in the cloud to feel positive again. Well, you don't have to. If you feel like you've ended up on the wrong side of the universe's algorithm, acknowledge your bad day and become your own saving grace. Even if you can't right all the wrongs that you've experienced, you can choose to reroute your day and end it on a sweet note. Below, check out six simple acts that can help turn a bad day around.

Watch a horror movie or visit a haunted house

If you want to stop feeling bad about how your day has been, find help in the blood-curling stuff, such as watching a horror movie or visiting a local haunted house. Being chased around by ghosts and going from one jump scare to another will help put things in perspective. 

"We get a rush of adrenaline, endorphins and dopamine, and that actually translates into feelings of euphoria and satisfaction or even empowerment once that fear subsides," Michelle Cutler, an associate professor of clinical psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, tells CNBC. It does no harm to face your fear in a safe environment. If anything, being aware that you have power over your frightening circumstance (e.g., turning off the TV, wearing earplugs, or fleeing the location) may help you gain a deeper understanding of your more elusive emotional stress triggers, mentally equip you for threats in real life, and boost your confidence in your problem-solving skills. 

When you realize that you can survive your fear, you will have a newfound appreciation for your life — and what you can control.  

Go dancing

Engaging in a fast-paced, exciting physical activity like dancing is one of the most effective instant pick-me-ups. According to The British Science Association, dancing helps release feel-good hormones like dopamine and endorphins — in addition to reducing cortisol levels brought on by long-term stress.

You don't have to wait until you've had a bad day to start profiting from the liberating power of dancing. Regular dancing can keep your mind sharp, lower anxiety, and alleviate symptoms of depression in the long run. Unchoreographed dances, such as social Lindy Hop, have been shown in a study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice to help people cope with stress-related health disorders. Those who danced more frequently or for longer periods of time also performed better on tests of psychological well-being than those who didn't, according to the study. 

You don't even have to join a local dance class to start dancing. You can go into your room, turn on the most upbeat songs fit for a dance throwdown, and start loosening up your body. You don't have to know the dance moves or check yourself in the mirror when you're doing it. You just need to listen to your body and flow with the cues.

If dancing is not your cup of tea, kickboxing, swimming, and playing basketball are other fun activities that release negative energy

Soak your body in a hot bath

Soaking your body in a hot tub after a stressful day can relieve tension and make you feel much better. A study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that soaking your body in a warm bath of 40 degrees Celsius for over 10 minutes on a regular basis is more beneficial for your mental and physical health than a speedy shower.  

"Using a hot tub or taking a hot bath helps calm your nervous system and improve your mood," Integrative medicine physician Irina Todorov tells Cleveland Clinic. "Research shows that people who take hot baths instead of showers report lower levels of stress." To make your hot bath more relaxing, add a few drops of aromatic essential oils or toss some magnesium salt flakes into the tub. Lighting a candle and putting your favorite song on speaker also do wonders in setting the mood for an uplifting soak. 

While floating in the bath, put on a soothing mask, munch on some cheese, or pop the cork on your favorite champagne. The goal is to make yourself feel so pampered and comfortable that you'll forget about your troubles for a little while. 

Get out of your usual environment

A change of scenery will make you feel better and boost your productivity. A 2020 study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience concludes that days spent engaging in a range of activities — being exposed to various settings and experiences — can produce more positive emotional states than those spent in the same place. Deviating from your usual surroundings and stretching your mind with novel experiences also reinvigorates your brain and stimulates your creativity, snapping your mind out of boredom and giving you a fresh outlook

A change of environment doesn't mean you have to move cities every once in a while. When you can, take a short leave and embark on a vacation out of town to refresh your mind. If you don't have time for a full-fledged vacation, a breezy walk in the park or a stroll down a nearby beach in your free time can also help put your mind to rest and lower stress. A change of scenery can also be as simple as changing your at-home workstation to your backyard, a quiet coffee shop, or a scenic library. It's all about clearing your mind and getting a new perspective. 

Eat some ice cream

A scoop of ice cream can melt your blues away. Ice cream has always been known as an instant (and temporary) cure for stress. According to The Science Times, the L-tryptophan found in milk in ice cream is a form of amino acid. It functions as a natural sedative to suppress the activity of the nervous system, resulting in less anxiety and a heightened feeling of drowsiness. That means this comfort food – aside from lifting your mood — can make you want to go to bed. And what better way to get over your sense of unhappiness than a good night's sleep?

While it does no harm to pamper yourself with a decadent treat every once in a while, take care to not overindulge it. According to The Baton Rouge Clinic, consuming a triple-scoop cone with extra toppings puts you at risk of hypoglycemia since it exceeds the daily allowance of added sugar, which is 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men. A small cup or cone of plain ice cream sans sugary toppings is a more sensible option. If you're down for a cold and creamy treat, frozen yogurt and sorbet with fewer calorie contents are a healthier alternative than ice cream. 

Get in on dopamine dressing

If you follow fashion closely, you've probably heard of this trend called "dopamine dressing." As its name suggests, dopamine dressing is a type of dressing that helps release more dopamine, a feel-good hormone that boosts your sense of joy. Fashion-wise, what better way to boost your mood than to wear the clothes that you love? 

What you love to wear can be something that reminds you of a happy memory, brings out the little girl in you, or sparks a sense of confidence. It can be as girly and colorful as cottage-core. It can be bold and maximalist or as minimal as neutral basics. You can put on any color, texture, or form that excites and empowers you the most, from your undergarment to your outerwear. "What we wear impacts our self-image and what we think of ourselves," neuroscientist Matt Johnson tells SELF. And while you're in the mood to reset your style, consider spicing up your wardrobe. This time, focus on the colors and styles that make you feel happy and confident. 

If you're afraid of catching unwanted attention with your less conventional outfit, you can try it on in a safe space — such as your home or an intimate gathering with friends. Anything that makes you feel good about yourself is worth a try.