Your life’s going along fine, then a series of unfortunate events create a pileup, and you come down with what feels like a wicked case of the blues. Or maybe you’re straight blindsided by a worst-case scenario and find yourself on a one-way train to the dumps. Either way, you’ve just landed in Funktown—and Bruno Mars’ happy vibes are nowhere to be found. It happens to everyone at some point. It’s a totally normal part of life, and riding the wave is how we develop emotional grit and inner stability. So how do you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and find your way back to living your best life? Here are some concrete ways to get yourself out of a funk.
What’s the funk about? Try to pinpoint the feelings that rolled over you, knocking you off balance. This low-grade semi-depression came from a disconnect: when your perception of a situation caused you to short circuit. If you can figure out the narrative you are telling yourself around something that has taken place, you can also give yourself the power to shift your perception about it. You are the master of your life, and you have the wherewithal to reframe the story you’re telling yourself about a situation at any given time.
Choosing to see it another way can help you feel better about it. Stop playing the victim where you can and create a new perspective around what’s bothering you. Your feelings will inevitably follow suit, because feelings follow thoughts. You’ve got this. Then breathe into your heart space and reconnect to yourself. Tell yourself that you’re a strong, powerful being and you’re bigger than any one event in your life. This funk’s got nothing on you.
Get out in nature, stat. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical exercise opportunity, but instead, an exercise in practicing being present. While spending time outdoors, we can call on all our senses to bring us into the Now. And in this moment, all is well. You have everything you need, right now, to be content in present time. You’re not reflecting on the past, nor are you projecting into the future. If you catch yourself obsessing about either, bring yourself back to the Now through your senses:
· Breathe: take in the scents around you, all the subtle layers of them, such as flowers, fresh-cut grass, and morning rain.
· Feel: the air around you, the motion of your body, the earth under your feet as you walk, the sun on your face.
· Hear: the sounds of birds, the wind, dogs barking, children playing, your breathing, and even your own heartbeat.
· See: allow your eyes to scan all the depths of your vision. Try to see past the obvious sights and take in the intensity of colors, the people you pass, and the clouds above.
If the mind still wants to ruminate on something—as is its tendency—give it a phrase that uplifts the soul. Work with your breath here. On the in-breath, you could say something reassuring like “I am loved.” On the out-breath, say “I am safe.” Repeat on a loop to change the feedback in your head. And then bring your focus back to your meditation walk, shifting yourself into the present, where all is well. Plus, by moving your body, you will release some feel-good hormones, the mac-daddy endorphins. Not a bad byproduct.
For a boost of serotonin (those happy wonder chemicals in your brain’s command center), bring to mind good memories from your past.
· Write down 10 of your happiest moments and 10 things you’re grateful for in your life—really conjure them up. Everyone has them, and you can go as far back as that pony you got for your fifth birthday.
· Pull out your phone and scroll through happier times or take a scrapbook down from the shelf that captures uplifting events as far back as your childhood. Looking through them will release feel-good chemicals into your system and give you a feeling of hope. While you’re scrolling, keep telling yourself “I’ll be OK. This will pass. There are so many more incredible experiences ahead.” The combination of repeating these positive affirmations and visualizing undeniably happy times will not only flood your system with serotonin, but it will also recruit your all-powerful Subconscious Mind to get cracking on bringing some great new experiences down the pipeline. It’s the sweet spot for the SM, with the visualizations and power of feeling combined. Your Subconscious has no choice but to work on delivering that next choice adventure, as it’s always working on your behalf.
Now for the dopamine express. Make a list of dreams you’d like to see come to life. Maybe a trip you’ve always wanted to take, a deep-sea dive with orcas, a trek through the Andes, a cush position at work. Write them all out. Do a short-term list and a long-term one. Here’s the life coaching bit: come up with three actionable ways you can move each one forward.
Otherwise, it’s just a wish on a piece of paper. And we want to feel like we are moving the needle in the direction of our dreams in a concrete way. There’s no better time to contemplate our bucket list than when it feels like a bleak, desolate landscape, in a moment of contraction. Remind yourself it’s a big, beautiful life and you’ve got s&*t to do, my friend.
Reach Out and Touch Someone
When everything in you wants to isolate, play The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony,” and scroll through an ex’s Instagram account … fight the urge. OK, give in to it … for a short while. There’s something comforting about turning yourself over to the plight of being human, and wallowing in small doses can be oddly satisfying. But set a time limit for the sad-sack immersion. And then, call someone you love (who loves you back), a family member, a close friend, someone you trust and feel good with, and make a plan to get together pronto. When you do meet up, remember that hugs, hand-holding, and physical affection are super-fast ways to move out of being funky-potatoes and release the always-welcome hormone of love and wellbeing, oxytocin. Physical contact creates real connections and is a sure-fire way to bring you back to some semblance of your old, upbeat self.
We carry our issues in our tissues. We can’t process emotions, triggers, setbacks, and shocks to our system fast enough sometimes to reset before the next onslaught. When there’s that buildup of undigested emotions, the mind represses all those big feelings, shoving them away to be dealt with down the line. They can get stored energetically into parts of the body, and that’s when we see different physical ailments show up, as well as an unshakeable feeling of being in the pits. When that happens, it’s your incredibly helpful body’s way of reminding you to “Clean up on aisle three!”
The power of any healing modality such as Reiki, acupuncture, massage, energy work, craniosacral therapy, or breathwork cannot be underestimated. A skilled practitioner has the potential to move stagnant, negative energy trapped in your body out through your entire system in an hour. You might lie down on their table like a wet blanket initially and leap off by the end of your first session feeling right as rain. Body work is a gift to humankind, so why not take full advantage?
We have so many outside resources to lean into when a funk is having its way with us. Not to mention, our bodies are always ready to flood our system with feel-good chemicals, if we are willing to put forth a small effort to step off the Funktown Express. Sometimes that’s all that’s required, as well as reminding yourself that feeling down is normal and a part of life. After all, you can’t enjoy the rainbows without first having the rain. We learn to accept all of it as part of the human experience.