Note: In this article I address short lived funks. If your funks are long-lasting and are seriously affecting your personal life and you think you may be experiencing depression, please seek help from a trained professional. Here are some resources to help you beat depression. You are not alone in this fight.
How the heck do I get out of this funk? We’ve all asked ourselves that question. We’ve all been to the seeming depths of despair where nothing seems interesting and hope seems to diminish. Some event happens in our lives which starts us on a downward spiral of hopelessness that doesn’t seem to stop. Sometimes this feeling of despair hits you head-on but other times it can be quite subtle. One thing is for sure, life will throw you curveballs to test your mettle. It is easy to say we tough and are able to handle adversity but the true test happens when we are put in the situations where we have to work hard to get out of.
Recently I also was in a dark place mentally. Life threw me a curveball which pushed me off my game. It affected my mood in a way that I was retracted into my own space and shut out the people I worked with.
Slowly but surely I am still clawing my way back to living my life and not succumbing to my circumstances. I want to share some techniques I am currently using to help you when you experience bouts of funk.
Here are the tips to help you get out of a funk:
Exercise to get your blood flowing
"It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps the mind in vigor." - Marcus Tullius Cicero
The psychological and physical benefits of exercise are well documented. Exercise helps to elevate the mood by releasing chemicals in our brains such as neurotransmitters which include serotonin which is associated with feelings of calmness and happiness, dopamine which helps regulate brain functions such as learning, concentration, and attention, and Norepinephrine which helps regulate our sleep cycle. These chemicals also regulate our immune systems and help us relax which is exactly what we need when we are stressed out. Exercising gets the blood flowing and also takes our mind off of the worries we may have.
Tip: Join your local running club to be part of a supportive community to motivate you to continue running.
Travel to set your mind free
“Travel brings power and love back into your life.” - Jalaluddin Rumi
Getting out of our surroundings helps us see things from a different perspective. The feeling of being stuck in a rut can wear on you and seeing new places can be just the right medicine. Whether it’s an overnight trip or an extended vacation, the change in scenery can help to rebalance yourself. Explore the new location with a sense of adventure to help take your mind off of your worries. Try new cuisine at a restaurant you wouldn’t try back home. This will give you new memories and help you improve your mood.
Tip: Take a road trip. Road trips are a great way to clear your mind. The long stretches of highways help to create moments of self-reflection.
Find Beauty In Pain
"Behind everything beautiful, there is some kind of pain." - Bob Dylan
Rejecting or denying our negative feelings while we are in a funk makes us miss out on a great opportunity to learn about ourselves. It is easy to feel in charge when things are going great but the real test comes when we are feeling down. How will we react? Will we be strong or will we give in to the negative thoughts? Will we look for the beauty that surrounds us or play the blame game? This is the moment we can step up to take charge and transform ourselves by finding beauty in the midst of pain. Make a list of things you are grateful for such as your health, family, friends, being alive, favorite music, seeing the sun rise in the morning, the birds chirping in the morning are all things we can be grateful for. When you’re feeling downturn your focus on the beauty around you no matter how small it is.
Tip: Next time you’re feeling down, pause and sit with these emotions and feelings. Acknowledge their presence. Spend some time with them. Then decide to move forward in a positive direction. Let go of any negativity you feel towards yourself or others. Make the choice to be positive.
Reach out to friends to gain a new perspective
"The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be." - Shakti Gawain
Building walls is a bad idea, no matter if we build them around us or our great country. Reaching out to people we trust helps communicate our thoughts and feelings because sometimes we just need to let out a little steam. Since we are too close to be objective participants, our friends can help us see the situation from a different perspective. They can provide the comfort and guidance we need to help us get back on track. They can help us see how special we are in other people’s lives.
Tip: Get some Oxytocin. Oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, is a chemical that helps improve our mood and has many pro-social and anti-stress benefits. Get a good hug or a laugh, whichever comes first. The good feelings we get from getting a hug and laughter are immense. Find the friends who can help you hug it out or call on that one friend who always cracks you up with laughter.
Get your feelings out by writing or doodling
“We speak not only to tell other people what we think but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought.” - Oliver Sacks
Keeping your feelings locked inside yourself can have negative consequences. Learn to get them out in a positive way by writing or drawing. Keeping a daily journal isn’t just for remembering what happened during the day, it is also a way of releasing the negative energy that is stuck inside. By not releasing the harmful thoughts that percolate within us they can bubble up and explode with disastrous consequences. Writing down your thoughts also aids in understanding them more clearly.
Doodling is another great way to cope with the stress that is associated with being in a funk. Doodling gives your body an outlet for the stress it is going through.
Tip: Write for just 5 minutes every day. Next time you are in a funk, write down all your thoughts. Let the “stream of consciousness” out. Don’t edit or correct yourself. Don’t worry about grammar. Don’t censor your thoughts. Are there thoughts, ideas, patterns that emerge. Notice how you feel after each session.
Start a project to bring back the passion
"Success is liking you, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." - Maya Angelou
Remember that one project you worked on where you felt alive because you were doing something you love? Close your eyes and go back to that time. Think about how it made you alive. You were on a roll. How easy was it to get in a flow state?
Passion projects can bring you back to where you once were. Since you get to decide what you want to work on you have the freedom to pick whatever pleases you. By doing something you love you can work your way back to your happy place as you make progress even when there might not be much progress in other areas of your life.
Tip: Take 5 minutes to brainstorm ideas for a project. Create a mind map to help you explore fun and challenging projects for you to start right away.
Meditate to focus on positivity
"Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment." – Alan Watts
Rebooting our minds by meditating will help us manage the stress that comes with getting into a funk. It also helps us deal with the challenges we face when we are in a dark place. The negative thoughts can overtake us and meditation helps us realize that we have a choice in the matter. We can either be positive or turn our focus towards negativity. This is where meditation helps us teach our mind to ignore the negative thoughts and focus on bringing positivity into this world.
Meditation also helps us reconnect with the present and train our minds to not worry about what will happen in the future, which is the cause of most of our anxiety.
Tip: Just starting out with meditation? Try Headspace or Insight Timer apps. These apps provide guided meditations to help you go get started and provide a community to continue your meditation journey.
Next time you’re in a funk, remember that your current situation is temporary. There are steps you can take to work your way back to a healthy state of mind. Everyone’s situation is different and only you know yourself. So do what you need to and take your time. It’s not easy but with some perseverance, you can clear your mind to become the badass you have always been.
How do you get out of a funk? Share your comments below.
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