How to Get Through a Bad Day at School

Three Parts:Dealing While You’re at SchoolRecovering from a Bad Day at HomePreventing Future Bad Days

Everyone has those days where you regret ever having gotten out of bed at all. School can be difficult for a number of reasons. You might not be able to control all of the things that make school difficult, but you can take lots of positive steps to make your day manageable and to prevent bad days in the future.

Part 1
Dealing While You’re at School

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    Take some deep breaths. When you notice yourself getting anxious or frustrated, taking some deep breaths is a great first step. You can do it anywhere, even in class. Your teacher and classmates probably won’t even notice.[1]
    • Try breathing in deeply through your nose and then breathing out through your mouth.
    • Take ten deep breaths like this. If you don’t feel calmer after that, repeat. However, usually taking ten deep breaths will help.
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    Reflect on what’s happened. You might be having a bad day because one big thing happened that upset you; or many small upsetting things may have happened. It may be a case of bad luck or it could be caused something more significant such as bullying or doing poorly on a test. Take some time to think about what it is that has turned this into a bad day.[2]
    • Once you’ve named the problem or issue, try to avoid thinking about it too much. Sometimes a bad day is made worse by fixating on the problem. See if there's something more positive you can turn your attention toward. For example, instead of thinking, "I can't believe I left my homework at home," you can think, "I'll tell my teacher what happened and bring it in tomorrow. And anyway, I've got drama club later today, which will be really fun."
    • You can also decide that you’ll spend some time later, at home figuring out how to deal with this issue fully.
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    Check in with friends. Strong friendships can make school much more manageable. You might not be able to talk to friends during class, but try to connect with them during lunch or between classes if you can.[3]
    • It can be useful to get or give a hug when you’re having a bad day.
    • If it’s possible during a break, you can write a note or send a text to a friend. But don’t do this during class, course. A note can be a way to vent, such as, “Today just seems to go on forever!” or to express care for someone, such as, “I wish you were in English with me. I always feel lonely in that class.”
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    Take a break if you can. Some teachers will understand that when you’re having a really bad day you may need a break. After all, they’ve had bad days, too. If you have a teacher whom you trust, you could say something like, “I know that what we’re doing is important but I’m having a really hard time focusing today. Would it be okay if I took a short break and came back in ten minutes?”[4]
    • Taking a break might mean sitting quietly in the back of the room with your head down, or sitting in the hall by yourself for a few minutes.
    • Taking a break could mean going to the library, the nurse, or the guidance counselor’s office until you feel ready to come back to class.

Part 2
Recovering from a Bad Day at Home

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    Take some time to yourself. When you get home you might be coming into a house full of parents, siblings, pets, or even friends. Before you engage with others, try taking some time to yourself to cool off.[5]
    • Gently tell your family that you had a bad day and need some time by yourself. You can say something like, “I had a really hard day today. I think I need a little bit of time to myself right now. You don’t need to worry, though. I’ll let you know if I need to talk about anything.”
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    Do something to forget about your school day. You probably spent most of the day at school dreaming about being home and doing something that you’d rather be doing. Take advantage of your time at home and do something that feels good to you.[6]
    • You could do an art or craft project or play an instrument.
    • You can listen to music or watch TV or a movie.
    • Get outside for some fresh air or exercise. If you’ve spent all day indoors at school, being outside can feel very refreshing.
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    Talk to your parents if necessary. It’s possible that your parents are the last people you want to talk to about your bad day. However, if your bad day was caused by serious issues, such as bullying, being picked on by a teacher, or because you’re actually struggling with one of your subjects, you need to let your parents know what’s going on.[7]
    • If you’re being bullied, your parents may need to step in and talk to the other parents or to the school administration.
    • If you’re struggling with your studies, your parents may be able to talk to your teacher about possible causes or arrange for you to get extra help or tutoring.
    • You may even want to talk to your parents about minor things that made your day bad. They’ve had plenty of their own bad days and may have some helpful advice for you.
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    Prepare well for the next day. Do what you can to make sure that tomorrow is a little better. This usually means getting plenty of sleep so that you can start the next day refreshed.[8]
    • Study for the next day. Even if you don’t have a test the next day, you’ll feel good if you’ve reviewed your work and are ready for tomorrow’s class.
    • Do what you can at night to make the next morning less stressful. Lay your clothes out, pack your lunch and prepare your bookbag. This way, you won’t be scrambling to get ready in the morning.

Part 3
Preventing Future Bad Days

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    Write down what makes a good or bad day. It can be helpful to identify not just what made your day bad, but also what makes a day good. That way, you can try to take positive steps toward having more good days. Some things that might make a good day are:[9]
    • Having gotten enough sleep
    • Wearing your favorite outfit
    • Getting to sit next to a friend on the bus
    • Having your homework finished on time
    • Having plans with a friend to look forward to after school
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    Get organized. School is a lot of work and being organized can help you stay on top of all of it. Create systems that will help you manage your school work and prepare for each day so that you can avoid being overwhelmed or falling behind.[10]
    • Designate a time each evening to review your assignments and study or complete your homework.
    • Put your lunch box, book bag, and anything else you need in the same place each evening, so that you know where it is in the morning.
    • Use a wall calendar to keep track of assignments, dates of tests, and your weekly schedule.
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    Structure your life outside of school. You’re likely to have a better day at school if you’ve got other things going on that make you happy. For example, if you are on a sports team that you enjoy or you take fun after school classes, you know that you have other things to look forward to. If you don’t have extracurricular activities that you enjoy, consider signing up for some.[11]
    • Look into after school clubs at your school. There may be academic clubs, a student government, or a club that takes fun trips.
    • Look into art or music classes in your town. These can be fun and can offer a way to express yourself creatively.
    • If school sports are too competitive for you, consider joining a team or league outside of school.
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    Exercise. You might not think you have enough time for exercise since you have to get up so early to get to school. However, even a short walk, jog, or bike ride can give you a burst of energy and endorphins that will put you in a better mood for the school day.[12]
    • You can shoot some baskets in your driveway or take your dog for a walk before school.
    • You can put on your favorite music and dance around your room.
    • You can get to school early and run around the track.


  • A hot shower after a long day can really help you relax and “wash the day away.”


  • If your bad day is caused by an illness, stay home so you won’t get sicker or give your sickness to your classmates.

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Categories: Surviving School