We’ve all been there – the Funk.
That place that feels gray, dreary and heavy but we’re not quite sure why. Or we know why, but maybe not how to get out of it. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with depression, ranging from mild (the funk), to severe, where I had to take a leave of absence from work. Over the years, I’ve learned to keep myself (mostly) in a really good place, but when life throws a lot at me I still can do battle with the funk.
One of the realizations that I have come to is that (at least at first) it doesn’t really matter how or why you got where you are. That’s for later, so that you can develop strategies for avoiding it.
When you are in the midst of the funk it’s not really helpful to focus on how you got there, instead you need to focus on how to get out of it.
I liken it to falling down a big hill. When you’re at the bottom you don’t look around and say how did I get here, where did I mis-step… you look around and realize “oh crap, I’m at the bottom of this hill and it’s not where I want to be”. So this is when you look for the easiest path back up towards the top. When you’re moving upward you can take note of what tripped you up to begin with.
Through my experiences I have found some great things to focus on to help get out of the funk and move towards feeling at peace and being happier. These are all options that can help, but it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Don’t feel like you “should” do everything all at once, start small, in ways that feel right for you.
Even though we just want to feel better right now,
slow and steady is the goal
as it is sustainable and realistic.
Here’s where I start my climb out of “the funk”.
Start a journal – I have 3 things I write about:
1. Gratitudes from the day/things I love:
These are things that I am thankful for, sometimes I have to dig down deep to start, but then they start to flow and I really do see what I have been blessed with in my life. A fun way to go to bed, rather than thinking about all you have to do or are worried about, is to list from A-Z things you are grateful to have experienced (not just in your day, but in your whole life). This can force you to be creative and have fun – I can say for a fact it’s the first time I’ve really thought about being thankful for Q-tips 😉
2. My successes
These don’t have to be huge events, but acknowledging your successes helps you to see where you ARE doing good and you ARE making progress. Sometimes just getting out of bed and dressed for the day is where you start, others it’s more than that. Look for the little things and as you watch they’ll get bigger and bigger.
3. Things I’m giving to God or the Universe to handle
This is a new one I’ve started and I have to say it’s really helping me to “let it go”. It’s not that I don’t plan on doing anything about these items, it’s just that I acknowledge they are bothering me and trusting that the right solution will present itself, without my worry because I trust in God to provide it. For me it provides a place to acknowledge without dwelling or stewing.
Feelings = Thoughts
Realize that your feelings are directly related to your thoughts. Take time to become aware of what thoughts are driving your feelings. What meaning are you giving to events?
A great example of this is this spring my son missed Track tryouts at school. As we have just moved we were really planning on this being his way to find a group of friends at the school and a coach for support, to allow him to settle in more (this was my meaning for the event). He was told by another student the tryouts were on one day, when they were actually before that and so he missed them. I wrote his guidance counselor right away, but never heard back. So from all of these events, my instinctive result was feeling upset, angry, and scared.
But when I took time to look at why i was feeling this way, it gave me the power to choose different meanings – so going further, this is what I found I was thinking. His friend didn’t want him to join, the school wasn’t helping him settle in, he’s not going to make friends, this move was horrible for him, I’m a bad mom. – wow, right?!?! No wonder I was feeling so horrible!
But now that I knew what I was thinking and the meanings I had given the event, I could change them to the following –
He learned to go to the direct source for information rather than relying on another teenager (who didn’t mean to mislead him, rather he’s just a normal 14 year old boy).
Track must not have been the right fit for him right now, but I trust that something else will be and look forward to him finding it.
For right now we can focus on doing more as a family and really solidifying our bonds.
This move has had positive results in X ways, and with everyday we get more settled in. I am supporting him in every way that I can, he is happy, healthy and getting good grades.
I am a good mom.
Taking time to explore the thoughts that are behind our feelings can defuse the intense emotional reactions that we’re having. Some of the big ones (I’m not good enough), take more work to really get rid of, but it is possible when you are aware of them.
Surround yourself with the positive
Affirmations – use post it notes, dry erase markers on mirrors, reminders on your phone or whatever puts them in your line of sight for the day. Get those around the house where you see them.
Uplifting music – soundscapes, “feel good” music, whatever brings a smile to your face. Singing is also excellent if you are feeling anxious – it forces you to take deep breaths!
Books – What uplifting and inspirational material can you read?
Interviews, podcasts, TedTalks, etc.
People – who uplifts you and makes you feel good when you talk or hang out with them?
Give yourself permission to avoid downers for a while
Whether it’s the news, certain people, or something else, if you know something leaves you feeling even worse give yourself permission to take a break from it until you are feeling better. Or at least plan on when the best time for you to be around it is.
Years ago I gave up watching the news before bed, and now I’ve (mostly) given up Facebook before bed. With all of the fear and angst about the new President I found myself feeling miserable right before bed, and that’s not how I want to end my day.
Look at Complementary Alternative options:
Nutrition: Eat well, nourishing your body. Balance the craving for comfort food with healthy & nourishing options. You can make comfort food that is healthier – soups, stews, etc.; if you are stress eating try to focus on controlling portion sizes. Don’t punish yourself, just try to make steps to reduce what you know isn’t supporting you.
Focus on your elimination (pooping), and add fiber – if you’re full of crap that’s how you’re going to feel. IBS is highly affected by stress so being aware of what your body needs and how it responds to stress is very important.
Vitamins, especially B’s are really important for combating stress.
Flower essences – The right blend is like a balm for the soul. Uplifting and soothing. I am always amazed and thankful when I remember to use these.
Herbs – Adaptogen herbs are great for prolonged stress and nervines help soothe the nervous system on a more immediate basis.
Essential oils – We are highly affected by scents, using therapeutic grade essential oils can help calm the nervous system and increase feelings of calm and wellbeing.
Exercise – Getting your body moving is a vital part of getting out of a funk. Find something you love to do and make sure to spend at least 10-15 minutes per day, 3-5 days a week, doing it. Studies have shown this is as effective as a low dose prescription of Prozac!
Sleep – Make sure to get a little extra sleep to support yourself. Stress releasing hormones are released In your body during sleep. If you’re not getting enough sleep it can lead to a nasty cycle of anxiety, depression, and more trouble sleeping.
If you are having trouble sleeping note whether it is initiation (getting to sleep) or maintenance (staying asleep). The way you help each is different, so being aware of what is most problematic for you is important.
These are several ways that I have learned to support myself and climb out of a funky spot. I hope that one or more of the ideas can help you as well. Even with all of these options, it’s important to have support.
Don’t try to do it alone, even when you feel like all you want to do is be alone.
Find someone to help you find your path & stay on it when it seems like you are too tired or worn out to do it on your own. Sometimes a shoulder to lean on or a hug really can make all the difference. Remember the analogy of the hill? It’s always good to have a buddy when you’re climbing up rocky terrain.
If you have any questions or would like my help with implementing any of the strategies listed above, please contact me here.