When nothing seems to go right, it might be because of our stress response. By going through a series of steps, we can get back in the driver's seat. Image Credit: Unsplash/Tim Foster

Do you sometimes struggle with turning around a bad day? Days where you find the brakes are off, and you’re getting from a bad situation into a worse one, without any way of reeling back the chaos.

Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn how to stop the ‘downward’ spiral, and take back control.

When nothing seems to go right, it might be because of our stress response. According to a February 2023 report by the Greater Good Magazine from the University of California, Berkeley, in the US, our stress response is a series of biological and psychological processes that automatically kick in when we encounter something stressful. It reduces our capacity to reason, focus and strategise – exactly the sort of things we’d need to reclaim our day.

Here are some ways to take back control, according to Greater Good Magazine:

1. Activate the parasympathetic nervous system

Interrupt the stress response by activating your parasympathetic nervous system. You can do this through breathwork, where you mindfully inhale and exhale and reduce your heart rate. You could also use the emotional freedom technique (EFT), which is also called tapping, and is based in Chinese acupressure. The technique involves vocalising how you feel, while simultaneously applying pressure on nine meridian points in the body. EFT has been known to have similar effects to breathwork – it lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, and calms you down.

2. Embrace feel-good hormones

Once you put the brakes on your stress response, it’s time to counteract the effects of adrenaline and cortisol. Increase feel-good hormones, like endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin to find balance, lower stress levels and feel more connected to others around you. Exercise is a great way to do this – research has found that moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes works best in generating the release of endorphins and serotonin. You can also hug a loved one for the release of serotonin and oxytocin.

3. Triage

Now that you’re feeling better and your mind is clearer, you have improved your ability to focus, think and strategise, and can better manage the source of your stress. Remember what resources you have at hand and what you’re able to control. Try to delegate or get help if you’re able to, and stop your stress response from ruining your day.

4. Set yourself up for success

To prevent the next day from going off the rails as well, make sure you give your body the best shot at success. One way to do so is by calming the amygdala – which may actively be looking for potential threats – with rest.

What do you think of these strategies for getting back control? Play today’s Spell It and tell us at