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When Life Gets You Down, Pick Yourself Up With the ‘1-2-3 Strategy’


Life is hard — and some days, it just plain old stinks. When it feels like nothing is going right and your best efforts to turn your day around have failed, don’t despair. Though the “1-2-3 Strategy” isn’t an elixir that will solve all your problems (trust us, we’re still looking for that), it will help you make the most of your terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Caissie St. Onge, an Emmy-nominated writer who’s worked on The Rosie O’Donnell Show and Joan Rivers’ Straight Talk, shared her own helpful tips for surviving a day’s rough patch on Twitter. “Doing my tried & true 1-2-3 survival strategy for tough days. 1. Do something you have to do. 2. Do something you want to do. 3. Do something for somebody else,” she tweeted.

A mile-long to-do list is enough to make any woman throw her arms up in frustration and mutter, “When will I have time to do all of these things?” Now imagine you have to do all those chores on the same day your boss threw a bunch of tasks at you, your child was sent to the principal’s office, and you spilled coffee all over your favorite top. There is no way anything on that list is getting checked off, not no way, not no how. The great thing about St. Onge’s method is that instead of making you finish everything on the list, you only have one assignment to complete. And that’s so much more doable.

On those aforementioned bad days where you just can’t seem to get things done, the last thing that makes sense is to reward yourself — but you should. The benefits of self-care are numerous: preventing burnout, combating stress’ negative effects, and helping you refocus. And it’s not just locking yourself in your room and meditating for a few minutes. Self-care can be as simple as buying yourself an ice cream or savoring a glass of wine with dinner.

St. Onge’s last piece of advice might seem irrelevant, but it’s oh-so important. When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to wallow in a sea of “I can’ts,” finding reason after reason to not be happy with your life. “I can’t do that because I have too much on my plate. I can’t get that promotion at work because my boss hates me. I can’t wear that top because it makes my arms look fat.” Doing one nice thing for someone can be enough to pull you out of your misery long enough for you to realize that you actually have so much to be thankful for. Also, isn’t it just nice to be good?

Following the “1-2-3 Strategy” means that you’ve accomplished at least three things, even on your worst day: You’ve checked off a chore on your list, you’ve been kind to yourself, and you paid it forward. That should be enough to at least put a smile on your face.

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