How to Get Out of a Funk

I can always tell when I’m slipping into a funk. It begins with a persistent feeling of boredom and a sense that I’m going through the motions. What inspired me before doesn’t capture my interest in quite the same way and maybe I’ve even got a mild case of the blues.

This is where I find myself right now and I’m not surprised. I’m in a transitional period in my life and I often find transition more challenging to deal with than the change that brings it on. Change is change—what’s done is done—but transition takes time. Transition takes patience. Transition takes trust that what’s shapeless now, will eventually take form.

Of course I can also find myself here when nothing at all has changed and the status quo is a faithful and reliable companion.  One set of circumstances isn’t better than the other, but looking at what is or isn’t going on in my life when I settle into a funk has taught me that feeling this way can usually be traced back to one of two causes:

  • I’m under-stimulated and not experiencing enough change or positive challenges
  • I’m over-stimulated and have recently experienced too much change or too many difficult challenges

Once I know which cause I’m dealing with, finding a way out of my funk gets easier. It’s a simple matter of addition or subtraction.

The Too-Much Funk

If I’m in a funk and have recently been under higher stress than what’s normal for me, it’s usually because I haven’t allowed myself adequate time to stop and process what’s going on, never mind bothered to ask myself what I might need to ease the strain.

The way to shift out of this place into one that feels better is clear—give myself the time and space to process, rest and reflect. I may do this in an active or passive way and might:

  • Read in bed for an entire morning, afternoon or the whole day
  • Make a list of what is working in my life and be grateful for everything on the list
  • Do something I’m good at, enjoy and haven’t done in a while
  • Get cozy on the sofa and watch an uplifting, inspirational or funny movie
  • Take a bath, schedule a massage or go to a gentle yoga class

The Too-Little Funk

When my funk is the product of not getting enough stimulation, finding my way out gets a little trickier. I can be prone to bouts of inertia if I let myself stay there too long and don’t take action. To make matters worse, I usually don’t feel all that motivated to make the shift and so I’ve learned the best thing for me is to leave my feelings out of it.

Staying in my funk is not an option; neither is it up for self-discussion. Finding my way out is, in short,  non-negotiable. So, putting my feelings of “want” and “don’t want” aside, I might:

  • Clean out the closets and drawers
  • Go for a run
  • Learn a new skill or take a skill I already have to the next level
  • Shop for and cook a new recipe
  • Rearrange furniture

What’s Your Funk Telling You?

The next time you’re in a funk or sense one coming on, stop and take a minute to look at what’s been going on in your life. Then, look within to see how all of these things are affecting you.  Are you feeling tapped out or cooped up? Do you need to nurture or nudge yourself? Would you benefit more from slowing down or speeding up?

Remember to try to keep your feelings about the action you decide to take out of it. Staying in bed to read all morning isn’t lazy if that’s what you need to do to recharge. Cleaning closets may not be your favorite pastime, but it’s physical, engages your decision-making skills and it beats staying stuck where you are—which is in a funk, with messy closets.