Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How to Get out of a Funk

Everyone gets in the occasional funk. Maybe you wake up feeling ungrounded, or dreading your day, or irritated for no reason in particular. Maybe you can't relate to the people you normally love to hang out with. Maybe you're vaguely (or more than vaguely) worried about some obscure thing that might happen, but probably won't. Or maybe you're uncharacteristically grumpy or depressed or ill-behaved. You, dear friend, are in a funk.

Of course you know by now that this is normal and okay, and it doesn't have to ruin your day (although some days it will, and that's okay, too). Sometimes we're in an emotional or psychological process like grief or going through a major life change. Sometimes we're in a physical process like having the flu or PMS. We'd love to be able to be happy and steady all the time, but we humans are complicated creatures, and we're bound to experience occasional ups and downs.

But let's say you're in a light, non-complex funk, like I was in when I woke up this morning. I was basically fine and in tact physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, but I felt mildly discouraged, a little let down from returning to the salt mines after a fun three-day weekend, a little burdened and blah. What then?

You probably already know this, but being in a funk is like being stuck in a ditch. You can assess your situation all you like, think and feel about it all day long, but nothing is really going to change until you decide to climb out of the ditch. Sometimes it's a shallow ditch and all you have to do is take a couple steps, while other times the ditch is deep or slippery and requires more concerted effort to get out of.

What I've found is that most funks, big and small, can be undone by gathering up whatever energy is available in the moment, and doing something different than what the funk would have us do.

For instance, If I'm depressed, the tendency is to withdraw from life and feel sorry for myself, thus perpetuating the depression. When I'm feeling unproductive, the tendency is to sit around and contemplate all the things I should be doing, thus perpetuating the lack of productivity. And when I'm feeling  irritated, the tendency is to look out at the world with critical eyes and notice life's challenges and other people's "jerky" behavior, thus perpetuating my irritation. See how that works? The funk takes over and leaves us feeling powerless.

What to do? It's not as hard as you think, but it requires you to actively reject what the funk is telling you, and do something different---sometimes the opposite, and sometimes doing anything else will do. Going back to my earlier "discouraged/bored/blah" funk, I decided to read a book for a few minutes (even though I didn't really have time to read). Within five minutes, I was ready to move on with my day, funk-free. That's all it took.

Breaking the funky energy current is usually all it takes to redirect us, unless the funk has complicating factors built in, like it's habitual, or we're using it to punish ourselves for some perceived crime we've committed, or we're chemically imbalanced, or there's some secondary purpose it serves.

So if we're mildly depressed, irritated, or feeling another 'funky' emotion, and we want to shift it, we need to either go deeper into it, (as in journaling about it or talking to a wise friend), or reject it and do something different, (like going for a walk, listening to music, or doing the dishes). It doesn't have to be fun---it just has to break the cycle.

Please share what works for you. I'd love to hear from you. (You can leave a comment below of email me at jvshinn@wakeupsweetheart.com). Have a great week.