How to Deal with Down Days

By Lindsey Runkel

Editor's note: This post is reprinted from The Paraplegic's Guide to Adventure. with permission of the author. Lindsey is a spontaneous adventurer who loves the outdoors. She was injured in a downhill mountain bike accident, but doesn't let that stop her from adaptive mountain biking, skiing, and having a good time, no matter what. She's unapologetically herself and is excited to share her story.


No matter how positive we are, we are all bound to have a bad day. I find myself being overwhelmingly positive 99.9% of the time, which makes a rough day so much harder to face. The worst part is that there is no way to predict when a bad day is going to come, they just...happen. The slightest thing can trigger it. Today, for me, it was the fact that the weather was so nice. Odd, right? Not so odd when you look at it from my end.

On days like today, I used to pack my mountain bike into my car and head to my favorite trails. I would ride for hours and then when all the riding was done, I would jump into the river to cool down. A simple glance into the woods set me off today (not to mention the loss of a prominent member of the mountain biking community, which reminded me to live each day to the fullest). It's hard to look at what I used to do and realize that I can't do that in the same way anymore, and I definitely can't do it as easily. It's also tough to think about living each day to the fullest when you're fullest is near impossible to obtain in your current situation. 



Now on days like today, all I want to do is curl up in my bed and go back to sleep. But I don't because that means giving up and giving in. That means letting my situation win over me and quite frankly, that is no way to live life. Sure, it is absolutely okay to feel as though life has brought you down. Everyone is allowed a bad day every now and again- especially us SCI warriors. I am not the best at combatting my feelings on a day like today but I try and sometimes that is all we can do. 


Don't hole yourself up and shutdown

That is the worst thing you can do because it will only allow your feelings to seep in deeper

Realize that you always have someone to talk to

Whether it is a friend, a family member, or even someone in a similar situation (like me) 

Write about it

It's what I'm currently doing to combat my feelings and quite frankly, I feel a little better

Do something that makes you feel good

Eat chocolate cake, go workout, find a dog and play with it, do anything you can to keep your mind off your negative thoughts

Understand it's okay to feel how you feel

Accepting that having a bad day is just another part of life keeps us from feeling like failures when we don't feel good (however, wallowing in our feelings probably won't change them)

Make plans

Phone a friend and make plans to do something awesome this weekend, plan a trip to go see some far away friends you don't get to see often, look up flights for your dream destination and book away, make plans that make you happy to remind you of all the good in your life

Make a list

Any list: positive or negative, things you're grateful for, things you need to get done that day, things you have to look forward to, things that are upsetting you, any list. Writing things down helps remove them from our heads so we can take a second look

Hug someone

Find someone and hug them, hugs make everything better plus when you give a hug, you get a hug in return

Remember to breathe

This feeling won't last forever. Breathe it in, and breathe it out. One day can change your mood entirely and a few deep breaths go a long way

How do you handle down days? Leave tips in the comment section! 

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