Getting out of a funk
Some day’s we just wake up in a funk. Not in a “I have the uncontrollable urge to dance to Chic songs and wear gold lamé” type of funk. The “eugh I can’t be bothered” funk. It could be sunny outside, the birds are tweeting and there’s not a cloud in the sky but nope. You just feel as flat as a pancake that’s been sat on by a hippo who’s having a fat day.
We all get days like this and as we all know, they suck. The worst thing is it’s a pain in the proverbials to get out of your funk. You don’t really know when it’s going to end, and more often than not, you just get shaken out of it without realising. Which is all well and good when you’re on the other side, but while you’re still under the cloud of misery, you can feel a bit powerless. Everything feels pointless and annoying and stupid and dumb and ARGH WHY CAN’T I JUST GO BACK TO BED.
I find myself in a funk (both the eugh kind and the Chic kind) now and again, so I’ve put together a few tools that have worked for me over the years.
Now I know how odd this sounds. It’s probably not even particularly healthy. But sometimes, a funk is your body’s way of telling you something needs some attention. If you feel tired, sluggish, lacking energy and enthusiasm, it may be simply because you’re worn out. If you’ve had a particularly busy few days or weeks, you’ve probably been running on fumes, so as soon as the pressures off, you collapse into a heap. So if this sounds like the case, embrace it. You sound like you need it.
But on the flipside, when you’re in a funk, you’re not really open to reason and logic. Common sense can be telling me to do the sensible stuff like going for a run or talking it over with my friends, but just the thought of it sounds EXHAUSTING.
So instead, I listen to depressing music, I eat far too much chocolate, and watch films that make me cry (I’m a hoot at parties). Maybe something inside you is sick of “putting on a front” and pretending everything is fine, so embracing the misery gets it out of your system. It’s a bit of a necessary evil. Because I know if I spend a day like this, it gets really old really quickly. I eat too much, I revel in my misery and by the end of it, I start to think “Wow this is rubbish”. And this process jolts me into being rational and positive, and this is the first step to getting out of a funk.
When I say move, I mean move your body, don’t move house. That’s a bit extreme. It’s a widely-known fact that exercise makes you feel good. A good ole fashioned marathon, a few hundred laps around the swimming pool, a nice hour of lifting ridiculously heavy discs – you can’t beat it.
I’m hoping you all picked up on my sarcasm.
It irrefutable that exercise makes you feel better, it boosts your endorphins which triggers positive feelings in your brain. But whenever I see the word exercise, I automatically assume I have to push myself to breaking point in order to feel the benefits. But that doesn’t have to be the case. It can be as simple as moving - getting up, getting out and about and doing something.
The act of changing your environment is a great first step, as you’re physically removing yourself from your Funk Zone (if this isn’t a real place, I’m making one and hiring Nile Rodgers to run it). This allows you to shift your mind set with it. It can be as simple as a walk to the shops, or it could be a stroll down a quiet country lane. Maybe even just putting on your favourite song and dancing around your lounge! Change your physiology and change your mind-set with it.
Take A Look At Your Diet
Just like movement, diet has a huge impact on your mood. And I bet you know what’s coming. All the stuff you love affects your mood. Sorry.
Alcohol, sugar, coffee, processed meat and vegetables, foods with added sugar, salts and preservatives – these all drag you down.
We all know the saying – “Everything in moderation, including moderation”. The odd glass of red wine can be good for you, naturally occurring sugars are generally fine and a caffeine hit does wake you up and boost your energy. But it’s when you become overly reliant on them that it becomes an issue.
Products filled with sugar cause spikes in your blood sugar and mood swings, alcohol is a known depressant, and coffee can trigger anxiety-like feelings. If these play a big part in your diet and you’re regularly in a funk, it’s a good idea to take a look at small changes you can make.
Swapping coffee for green tea, using natural sugars like honey and eating freshly prepared, organically-produced food will pay dividends in the long run.
Read this great article for more info on how food affects your mood on Blurt It Out: https://www.blurtitout.org/2016/03/02/depression-foods-that-boost-mood-and-energy/
Get Good Sleep
Waking up in a funk is quite often triggered by poor sleep. If you’re not getting good quality sleep, or not enough sleep in general, that’s going to play a big part in your funk. We’ve written more about getting a good night’s sleep in one of our previous blogs so click here to take a look.
Talk About It
Ahhh the brain dump. We love you so. If you’re in a funk, there’s probably a trigger. You might not know what it is, but it’s probably in there. So one of my favourite things to do is to dig down and get it out. Like digging for annoying, useless treasure.
How you do it is up to you. Sometimes it’s a phone call to a friend, and you just let it all out. Just let rip. Moan, whinge, bitch, rant – as long as it’s kept in your head, it’s a swirling ball of misery whereas sharing and talking about your feelings helps you to release them. However, remember that by doing this you automatically give your friend permission to do the same so you’ve got that to look forward to.
If you don’t want to talk about it, you can write about it. Grab a pen and paper and pour your thoughts out. There’s a practice called ‘Morning Pages’ whereby you start each day by emptying your head and writing your stream of consciousness down to fill three pages, with the aim of leaving your worries behind and kicking things off with a clear head. This a great for when you’re in a funk as just like a morning papers, it’s yours and yours alone. It can be as free and honest and blunt and sweary and nonsensical and offensive as you like. But by getting the thoughts out of your head and onto paper, you’re releasing them and not allowing yourself to be weighed down by them.
Writing/talking about your funk is a great way to release your blues and help you to feel a bit lighter. But going one step further is the key to preventing future funks. I like to use a little method called the 5 Whys.
It’s as simple as this – ask yourself why you’re in a funk. Answer the question. Ask why again. And answer it. And do this three more times until you get to the fifth why.
I was in a funk earlier this week so I broke out the 5 Whys - why was I in a funk? Because I was tired. Why was I tired? Because I had a lot on my mind. Why did I have a lot on my mind? Because I was unfocused. Why was I unfocused? Because I didn't know what my focus was. Why didn't I know what my focus was? Because I hadn't actually taken the time to think about what I wanted to focus on. So I did just that - I focused on what I wanted to focus on. That probably doesn’t make much sense to you as wanting to focus on my focus sounds a bit daft. But it made sense to me and it kicked me into gear and I was able to shake off my funk.
Show some gratitude
Just like the 5 Whys, using gratitude is a great way of preventing a funk. There’s a clear, scientific link between showing gratitude and improved mental well-being, as it helps to release a load of negative emotions like anger, envy and frustration. It also boosts your resilience and self-esteem which are keys to staving off funk-like feelings. You can do it however you want – keep a notebook of all the things you’re grateful for, write them on little slips of paper and keep them in a jar, or even just mentally go through them at the end of every day. Not only does the act of showing gratitude for the things that make you happy boost positive feelings, you’ve got a record of them to remind you when you fall into a funk.
Hopefully this blog has given you some useful tips to ward off any future funks. We all get them and that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up for it as that just makes things worse. But little changes will pay off in the long run and before you know it, your funky days will be few and far between.
A little note about long-term funks…
This article is about rubbish days - sporadic days here and there that just feel a bit rubbish. If you have days like this on a regular basis, or for a prolonged period of time, and they have no specific cause, you may be exhibiting signs of depression. This is ok. Acknowledging this is brave and something to feel proud of, that you’ve acknowledged that something isn’t as it should be. Make yourself an appointment with a GP, or arrange to see a counsellor to talk about it. If you want to read about the signs and symptoms of depression, Mind is a great place to start. https://www.mind.org.uk
And although we’re not mental health professionals, please drop us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries you may have and we’ll do our best to signpost you to helpful resources.