Pro Tip: If You're in a Bad Mood, Embrace It

During a recent interview with Jen Gotch, the woman behind happiness-fueled brand Ban.do, our conversation veered at one point toward the mantra #NoBadDays. It's an adage that emblazons one of Ban.do's best-selling tees, but Gotch noted that while aspirational, it also didn't necessarily jibe with her famously realistic view on emotions. This take stuck with me long after we said our goodbyes, probably because it coincides with an ethos that I have begun to internalize in my own life in recent years: that positivity, while an admirable pursuit, can also be confining—and at minimum, it's incredibly unrealistic.

On my own, winding road to emotional wellness, I've learned above all else that policing my feelings isn't just unhealthy but also tends to exacerbate a lack of control. In fighting so hard to turn anger, sadness, or frustration around, I'd only become more aggravated, mounting more pressure for the dam to burst. Through growth (and therapy—lots of therapy), I wondered what it might be like to sit with the "bad" feelings instead. The initial discomfort gave way to catharsis until I began to make a home for the emotions that I had run from for so long. I sat in bed with my journal and queued up my favorite music until the tears fell and I found the clarity that had always escaped me when I was busy raging against my own humanness.

This isn't to say that my "off" days never throw me anymore; it's the nature of emotion to be unpredictable and, quite often, immensely uncomfortable. But it's also dangerous to categorize human feeling as positive or negative, good or bad. To the contrary, there is so much growth to be found in the days when we don't feel our very best.

"Bad days are our greatest teachers," says Amanda Huggins, a yogi and anxiety coach. "They offer us insight into the things that are in our lives that are causing us discontent. When we block or resist those little internal 'pings' that something is off, we're not creating any space for healing. The problem doesn’t go away; we just allow our other distractions to get momentarily louder. Creating space for bad days—and the true healing that comes along with that space—is so critical for coming out the other end happier, more clarified, and more confident."

Still, acquainting ourselves with a bad mood—especially when we have a history of trying to repress it—is often an exercise in uncomfortable introspection. Keep reading to learn how to get over the hump and embrace your bad day for the better.