As I’m writing this, I feel like a hypocrite. There are plenty of days when I choose to not deal with the funk and, instead, fully embrace it and lie around in my pajamas. On these days I’m an ostrich and, instead of burying my head in the sand, I hide under the soft, safe covers of my bed or live vicariously through the people in the box (a.k.a our friends in TV land). I know there are things I could do that would make me feel like a worthwhile human being, but in these “funky” moments, they feel like too much work--everything feels like work...LIFE feels like work. So isn’t the best counter to ‘too much work’ doing ‘nothing’? This seems logical and is easy to justify in my mind. The problem is I can spend hours on a TV bender and, most of the time, the funk only seems to grow funkier. I’m more tired. More powerless. I don’t feel refreshed...I feel even more drained. Then I feel guilty for having squandered precious hours locked inside. It’s a vicious cycle I’ve repeated year after year.
The summer I moved cross-country to San Francisco, with dreams of Golden Gate Bridge bike rides and scenic hikes in my future, I binge watched the entire Friends series, only leaving my apartment to walk around the corner to Walgreens to buy boxed mac-n-cheese. I swear if I ever interacted with an actual human, I would think things like “Could she be more of a Monica?”. I did eventually leave the house, meet real-life friends, and make a life for myself on the West Coast. But what I came to realize about that time of my life, and many others where I found “solace” with my TV screen, is I was coping with my fear and discomfort by attaching myself to the familiar. Everything outside was scary and different. But I knew how every episode of Friends would end. I could predict every “How you doin’?” and “I KNOW!” But a crutch is a crutch. And though there’s nothing “bad” about TV or using it as a mindless coping mechanism from time to time, if you’ve been wallowing for too long, you’ll eventually have to try something different.
Here are my top 3 tools that always seem to snap me out of a funk:
1) Write it out. It’s amazing what putting pen to paper can do. Study after study has proven the healing power of journaling. Once that fear, or lingering task, or grudge leaves your consciousness and exists in the physical world, it releases it’s hold on you. Moreover, for me, when I write I really tap into the thoughts I’ve been telling myself and can more objectively decide if they’re helping or hurting me. I recently heard the amazing Gretchen Rubin quote, “Don’t believe everything you think!” Writing helps me sort the “mean-girl gremlins” in my head from my actual voice.
2) Walk it off. It’s so simple, yet it can feel like climbing a mountain to pull yourself up from a horizontal position and move your body. But the effects of walking to stimulate creativity and boost mood are well documented. The bottom line is getting fresh air and time outdoors is sometimes all I need to take myself from ho-hum to get-it-girl! Often times a problem I’ve been avoiding seems simpler and I notice ideas start to flow. If I’m ever upset or angry, a walk can take me from a ‘10’ to a ‘5’ on the pissed off meter in 20 minutes. And the best part is, walking is free and available to you no matter where you are!
3) Watch what goes in. Turns out the old adage our parents used to lecture us with has so much truth in it: Trash in, trash out. It’s true with food and nutrition, and with our choice of friends and entertainment. It’s so ironic that the crappier we feel emotionally, the more we seem to be drawn to junk food. Or the lower our self-worth, the lower the bar for who we’ll spend time with. But I’ve realized to pull myself out of a funk, which is a very vulnerable state, I have to handle myself with extreme care. I have to watch what goes in my mouth. I have to watch what I read. I have to watch what I’m listening to. Sure, there are moments in life when listening to emo music and letting yourself bawl is cathartic, but when you’re ready to come out on the other side, you have to start acting the way you want to feel. Put more food, people, and things that are good for you in your life and see if that funk doesn’t evaporate!
What about you? What are your go-to’s for getting out of a funk?