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NPW Self Curious: The bad day survival guide

Published: 6 December 2018

Sometimes, you can go a whole day feeling like there is a swarm of bees buzzing about inside your head. The bees are slightly annoyed but not quite kicking off. Incidentally, that’s how you know they’re bees and not wasps – ever so polite but really quite narked. Whatever you try and put your mind to, the bees are there, buzzing between your will and the thing you mean to do.

They’re the classic “I got out of the wrong side of bed” days, and ones where the logical brain begins a checklist. Did I drink too much yesterday? Do I need more sleep? In essence: did I do this to myself? Did I bring the bees? If you brought the bees, it was either totally worth it (office Christmas party), or not (possibly also the office Christmas party…). Learn from it or enjoy the fuzzy memories.

Sometimes it isn’t your fault. Someone has been inexplicably rude to you, your coffee wasn’t right this morning, you were overcharged by your broadband provider, a parcel delivery didn’t arrive when you waited in for it… the list is endless and there are genuine situations where there is nothing you can do.

And sometimes – just sometimes – it’s nobody’s fault.

Does it even matter? Yes, when it comes to learning from things that have ended in us feeling less than okay, in that sense. But in terms of apportioning blame, it is rarely fruitful.

However you got to the point of bees-in-the-head, one thing is universal: if there was a way out we could get back on track. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

One myth to bust: I can’t cure your hangover. (Though I did learn this week that red wine contains loads more histamines than white wine, so if you take anti-histamines for other allergies and react badly to Merlot, you can pop a hay fever tablet to minimise some of your symptoms. Neat, eh?)

Ways I have found that help decrease the feeling that there are bees in your head:

Take action

You might not be able to get your package delivered today, and it may be automatically delivered tomorrow, but you can send a tweet of neutral feedback or an email to tell the company something didn’t work. If they don’t know there’s a problem with their system, they won’t think there’s a problem and won’t do anything about it.

Deep breaths

Doesn’t have to be a twenty minute mindfulness thing, but closing your eyes and breathing mindfully for the length of a familiar song while you’re crammed into that two carriage train might just shift your perspective.

Choose to ride it out

Don’t stay at the office late – just start again tomorrow. Things will feel different and you’ll make better progress. Go get yourself home and into your jammies with a mug of cocoa.

Treat yo’self!

Just be nice. If your friend was having a bad day you’d make her or him a cup of tea. So do it for yourself. Look after your vitals: are you warm, dry and hydrated?

Get fresh air

It’s the magic bullet! Walk. Sit. Run. Whatever. More here.

Have a good old moan

Sometimes life isn’t fair. Find someone who knows you well enough to know you won’t mean it in an hour, and let rip. Or write an email or letter to the you that stayed out til 2am and texted your boss, the colleague who threw out your lunch, or the squirrel that ran out in front of your bike… and delete/destroy it. (Do not, under any circumstances, leave any trace!)

Lean into your cravings

Depending on the severity of your bee/head infestation, you may need chocolate, coffee, tea, wine or a hug from a friend. Sometimes cravings are there to be listened to.

Reward the good days

We all have bum days. So next time you have a good one, notice that too. Then you will know next time you have a bees-in-your-head day that it is just one side of a pendulum swing.

Have a cry

Feel like having a bit (or a lot) of a cry? Have one. It actually passes pretty quickly and people really don’t think it’s as big a deal as you think. Screw eyeliner. Don’t bother reapplying, then you can have another cry later on if you want.


Finally, laugh. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at gifs of cats falling off tables. Laugh at online videos of your favourite comedian. Laugh at naughty versions of songs with the words changed. Laugh at a really bad pun. Laugh out loud, laugh often, and NEVER apologise.

Claire Eadington geeks out on workflow management, performance and wellbeing. Claire’s TEDx talk about barriers to performance for exceptional women kicked off the 2017 TEDxWhitehallWomen event in London.


Claire writes a weekly blog, Self Curious, on NPW’s website.
Read more blogs here.



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