Let’s face it; some days the stress of everyday living gets to you and your smile is false and unconvincing. You’re going about your regular tasks but your mind is totally wandering. Or you come in to work your usual cheery self, but a patient’s rude remark or a bit of bad news about a resident’s health has you struggling to maintain your composure.

We all have those days. And most of us try to cover up by pushing down the emotions and ignoring them until they lose their power. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really work. What usually happens is that the feelings we are trying to ignore just get stronger and stronger until they explode in a fit, either at work or once the shift is over.

A better way to deal with difficult emotions is to give them some respect. Grab a few minutes when you’re on break to sit in a quiet place (the stairwell or a bench outside, for instance). Breathe deeply for a few minutes and just let the feelings wash over you. Don’t think about them too much, don’t try to problem solve – just let them be. See if you can name your feelings – are you angry, scared or lonely? Dig deep to figure out what’s at the core of whatever is upsetting you.

Now you can start thinking about what actions you can take to deal with these feelings. If a patient died today and you are sad about her demise, consider writing a card to her family telling them how much she was loved at the nursing facility. If you are worked up about a conflict with your child this morning, think about how you can avoid this same conflict tomorrow morning. You can make a decision now or just set a time to think about the issue again.

When you go back to work, you will see that within a short amount of time, your smile will be back in place. Once you’ve given space to your feelings and let them go, your sunny nature will return all on its own!