5 Ways To Get Through The Day When You Feel Like Shit

5 Ways To Get Through The Day When You Feel Like Shit
Carly Jacobs

I was slumped over my third almond milk coffee, trying to get through the day, when my favourite barista, Sophie came up and asked if I was okay.

‘Yep!’ I said as I slid a bit further down in my chair and contemplated ordering my fourth caffeine hit of the day.

She jokingly asked if I’d had a big night last night. I laughed and said no, I hadn’t had wine in over a week. I just wasn’t feeling very energetic. I’d been eating well, sleeping well, exercising, not drinking. It was just one of those inexplicable things. I was just feeling shit for no reason.

She patted me on the back and said I’d be right as rain tomorrow.

And she was dead right, I was fine the next day but that didn’t mean I didn’t have deadlines to meet, emails to write and projects to manage on the day when I inexplicably felt like I was moving through cement. I knew that I was just randomly having a low energy day. It didn’t mean I was anxious, or depressed, or that I needed to make any dietary changes. I was just a bit flat, for no reason. And you know what? Sometimes that happens, we don’t know why and we just need to deal with it.

get through the day

You know what I mean… you’re not sick, you’re not hungover, you’re not even straight up tired, you just feel a bit blah?

Here are some ways I make it through the day when I’m just not feeling it.

1. Do only the most important stuff 

Do only what really needs doing on low energy days. If you’ve got grand plans to clean out the storage cupboard, tackle a big report or knock over the first chapter of that book you’ve always wanted to write, low energy days are not the time to do this. Those tasks are hard enough on high energy days. Do the very bare minimum of what needs doing – emails, meetings, follow-ups, fishing off things you’ve already started – and save the big grand tasks for days when you’re feeling more up to it. Also, if you can manage it, give yourself an early mark. Being good to yourself on low-energy days generally pays off in a quicker recovery time. When you’re feeling a bit slumpy, it’s not the time to burn the candle at both ends.

2. Do everything as quickly as you can 

Speed is your friend. Use timers, use rewards, use pure damn willpower but get everything done as quickly as possible. When you’re feeling a bit slumpy, your day will deliver consistently diminishing returns. In summary, that means you’re going to get more shit as the day goes on and your ability to effectively get things done is going to get worse and worse. Slam through what you can in the first half of the day and take it easy in the afternoon. Even on high energy days, I struggle to be productive at 4pm. Most of my work days are a race against the clock to get my most important stuff by 4pm when my brain decides float off. That happens at about 2pm on low energy days. Get everything done ASAP so you can fall in a heap as soon as humanly possible.

get through the day

3. Fake it

A positive attitude can make all the difference on a low energy day. As an extrovert, I find being around people or having lots of meetings to be very beneficial on low energy days as it’s gives me an extra burst of stimulus, thus increasing my energy levels. If you’re an introvert, try doing solo tasks the require a bit of concentration. Avoid people as much as you can on low energy days and extroverts? Surround yourself with ALL the people. As I work from home, I find getting properly dressed and putting on make-up to be a big help. It just feels like I’m awake and ready to tackle the day. If you work in an office, try to find a physical task marker that signalises an energy burst. It might be making a cup of coffee, turning on your concentration music, or popping on your noise-cancelling headphones but having a physical action that marks the start of concentration is an excellent Pavlovian trick to make yourself turn on focus mode.

4. Have a quick rest 

I know this option isn’t available to everyone but if you can, have a nap. When I was a teacher I’d go to my car on my lunch break and have a little nap. I’d then return to work feeling ace and raring to go in the afternoon. I do feel like people get a bit judgy about naps but honestly, they can stick it. Naps are great and I’d much rather have a nap and be firing on all cylinders in the afternoon than mooch around like a zombie because I’m tired. This sounds totally weird but I go to the gym every morning and if I’ve had a bad night sleep, rather than skip the gym, I still get up and go but when I get home I’ll have a quick 20-minute nap after my shower. It’s a lifesaver. It does seem strange to have a nap first thing in the morning but really, I’m just being a grown-up about it. It’s much better to invest 20 minutes in a restorative nap than waste 7 hours of your workday operating at half mast.

get through the day

5. Get some goodness into you

I’d avoid self-medicating with sugar but my magic combo is an almond milk flat white, a Berocca and some paleo muesli with yogurt (coconut yogurt if I’m going low dairy) and that will give me the afternoon boost I need to function like a human. Avoid the temptation to eat chocolate biscuits or sugary treat food. It will give you a buzz for sure but it’s very short lived. A nutrient dense snack is a much better option.

Additional reading for the keen beans…

Things Productivity Masters Do Every Day 

How To Fake Through A Low Energy Day

How To Feel Better When You’ve Had A Bad Day 

How do you make it through the day when you’re low on energy?

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  1. Maria Patenaude 1 year ago

    It’s rare I have a day that doesn’t look like this; I have Fibromyalgia. My husband is a game designer and a teacher, and he’s normally very high energy but also extremely under-slept, so he definitely swears by naps. Also, it sounds counter-intuitive, but when he hits that slump where he just can’t focus at all anymore and he’s already had a nap, he’ll get out of his chair and do a short burst of exercise. For him it’s martial arts, but I’m sure jumping jacks would do. It usually wakes him up enough to be able to re-engage and power through the rest of what he’s trying to accomplish.

    • Jess 1 year ago

      An absolute yes to exercise and fresh air. A brisk walk around the block is as restorative as a nap for me – if possible go and work outside for half an hour as well. Also – basic yoga stretches if your working space allows. Cat/cow and an extended child’s pose = ??

  2. Kelly 1 year ago

    Yep – flat days suck. I don’t know I have a great answer … new shoes always seems to work ha ha! I think being around people helps me the most or a great couple of upbeat songs. I think most of the time the flatness is in my head so whatever I can do that gets me out of my head probably works.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 1 year ago

      I used to be super in to shoes but I walk so much living in Melbourne they’ve become a bit of a non-thing. I agree with flatness being in your head – if I consciously switch up my thinking, I can reverse a flat day pretty easily!

  3. Missy D 1 year ago

    I had a very flat day today, but just mopped around complaining about it. 😉

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 1 year ago

      HA! Sometimes you need to do that too! 🙂

      • Missy D 1 year ago

        I probably could have been more productive like the ideas you presented above. 😉 After I read this I was like, ‘Wow, I just whinged today.’

  4. Exercise and nutrient dense snacks are a much better option than my current afternoon activities. which is reaching for the chocolate and slothing in front of the tv which of course do no help at all with productivity!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 1 year ago

      Oh it’s so tempting isn’t it? Every time I go down the sugar path in the afternoon, I regret it. Major crash and burn.

  5. Michaela 1 year ago

    Most of my days look like this. But that’s just kind of how it is with depression. I try to count my blessings when I find them.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 1 year ago

      I’m sorry, that’s really hard. I hope finding the positivity where you can helps. x

  6. Lizzie Fourman 1 year ago

    Because of my mental illness, I have a lot of days like this. The side effects of the medication I take for the illness makes me kind of loopy. I had a day just like this yesterday and ended up with a migraine. I didn’t get much business work done but at least I decided what blog posts to write for my client. That was the most important task on my to-do list, though I would have liked to get an outline done for the posts as well. I’m sure I’ll get everything done this afternoon before the movie night with my mom. I’ll make sure of it, no matter how tired I might be.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 1 year ago

      It’s such a catch 22 with medication isn’t it? I’ve been taking Telfast for hay fever and it makes me sleepy but I’m nauseous and headachy without it. What gives? 🙂

  7. Helen 1 year ago

    This definitely happens to me. Today actually started just like this, and it’s helpful to think about how to turn the day around as I’m experiencing it. I think the key to me is starting with a little forgiveness – to say, hey, it’s okay, not every day is a baller-I’m-winning kind of day. And then, trying to find a way to increase my enjoyment in the day. It may not end up being a great, enerrgetic day, but I can try to make it better by focusing on a small treat for myself – something that I will enjoy doing. At work, that can mean focusing on the visual elements for a while, since those are the most personally rewarding for me. And, then, letting that fuel me into the required stuff.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 1 year ago

      Yes! You need to be very forgiving of yourself on days like that and only do what you can. It’s all about re-adjusting your expectations.

  8. Jamie 1 year ago

    This is so timely! 🙂 I’m having a very flat day today as I’m recovering from a sinus cold and am still feeling a little out of sorts…I’m going to get a green tea now and power through the rest of my afternoon! x


  1. […] 5 Ways to Get Through the Day When You Feel Like Shit – I am a huge fan of cutting out caffeine, only doing the absolutely necessary, taking a bath and promising myself an early bedtime. […]

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