Plus, how to take things less personally.
As you can see from my photo above, bad hair days aren’t something I have to worry much about. But I do know about those days when things don’t quite flow, where everything feels a touch off and no matter what you’re doing, it all seems just a bit more difficult than usual. In fact, this feeling can settle on you so suddenly and with so little cause, that it’s pretty logical to blame it on the fact that your fringe isn’t sitting right.
But from personal experience, I can assure you that it’s possible to have a bad hair day even without hair. Which makes me think that perhaps there is more than a little of a mental element to the bad hair day phenomenon. That’s good news because it means it’s something mindfulness can really help with.
Here are a few tips to get you through the very worst bad hair day:
1. Don’t wait until a bad hair day happens to try to deal with it. Instead, establish an ongoing meditation practice in your life. People who practice meditation are scientifically proven to have lower cortisol levels, which is the hormone we experience as stress and anxiety increase. Once you’re up and running, you might notice that bad hair days are a less regular occurrence. Even just taking a few minutes every day to check in with how you’re feeling will make you more familiar with your moods, so you’re less likely to be caught off guard and spiral downward.
2. Recognize the potential for change. One of the most important lessons of mindfulness is that the stream of thoughts passing through our minds change constantly. When you take a step back and observe your thoughts, you begin to see that even if they center on one particular idea—perhaps the position of your part or frizzy hair, in this case—they’re still changing all the time. The fact that they change so quickly should offer us some hope—that perhaps a bad hair day could be just a bad hair half-hour. So don’t write the whole day off.
3. Focus on other people’s happiness. This is part of mindfulness practice and is never a bad thing to do, but it’s especially helpful when we’re feeling anxious or self-conscious. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but when you’re feeling low on self-esteem, a little act of selflessness can sometimes be enough to shift your mood. Whether it’s giving up your seat on the bus or making a co-worker a cup of coffee, it can sometimes take the focus away from self-criticism. And even if it doesn’t, at least you will have done something nice.
4. Take deep breaths. A simple breathing meditation can sometimes be enough to give some distance to those racing thoughts that contribute to that bad hair day feeling. Try to find somewhere quiet—lock yourself in the restroom if you need to—and focus on your breathing for five minutes. Better still, download the Headspace app and I’ll talk you through a simple 10-minute exercise called Take10. Or if things are really bad, choose the SOS option and there’s a 2-minute exercise designed to take the heat out of even the most difficult situations. And who knows, after all that, maybe your hair won’t look quite as bad as you think!