I am currently laying on my couch with my feet propped up on my wall nearly laying upside down typing this post. It's 80 degrees in my flat but feels like 100. Ryan is gone for a month and for the first time I do not have much planned during his TDY except for one project mid-month. I have more free time than I know what to do with but the England heat and lack of air conditioning makes my motivation tank even lower. Cue my existential crisis questions (i.e. what do I want to do with my life, should I get a typical 9-5 job, when can I get a dog, what if I have a terrible disease, etc. etc.) and suddenly I find myself in an all too familiar funk.
The frequency of my funks vary, but lately it's been once every few months. Funks are really hard to describe, and could differ from person to person, but generally, it's a weird feeling of detachment. pit-in-your-stomach anxiety, lack of energy/motivation, hitting a creative rut, not feeling yourself and just overall BLAH. Funks normally strike when life is switching up (i.e., Ryan leaves home, we're leaving home for a while, a lot is happening all at once, etc.), my time of the month, or completely randomly and out of the blue. Regardless of when and how, funks suck (Suck Funks amiright?!) but because I've been hit with enough of them, I'm usually able to combat or lessen its weird symptoms by putting a few key actions into play.
The funny thing about me is whenever I feel different or not myself, I am literally that kid on anesthesia that asks if this is going to be forever. It's so difficult to remind myself through moments of utter discomfort and dissatisfaction that those feelings are temporary, and that's what funks are - temporary! So if you're like me and catch yourself in one of these, know you're not alone. Also know that, just because I'm providing a cute list of tips and tricks, I sometimes struggle to do even one of them. But the key is that you try and do at least one them a day. Small accomplishments are sometimes the secret to a bigger success.
Quick disclaimer: "funks" can mirror depression symptoms but are short-term. If you've experienced these symptoms ongoing for more than a month or two - please talk to your doctor and seek advice from a mental health professional. They will be able to tell if it could be something that needs a different approach.
Not feeling yourself? Try some of these:
1. Acknowledge the funk
You cannot adequately help yourself without fully accepting and surrendering to what is, in this case, the funk. Whether you're a freelancer like me whose schedule isn't always filled to the brim, or you're slammed with tasks, funks can strike anyone. But the start to a solution is the same answer: Do not try to ignore how you feel. Instead, take a second and say, "I feel weird. I'm in a bit of a rut," whether it's to yourself or a friend. You don't have to dwell on it, but that simple recognition can prevent you from an utter breakdown later on. If you fail to do this, it could feel like you're literally walking around with something up your butt.
So, acknowledge the feelings - no matter the discomfort - and let them flow through you. When you let them be and realize it is temporary, you can take more conscious steps to feeling normal again.
2. Check your NES
That is, your Nutrition, Exercise, and Sleep. It may seem obvious, but as someone who *thinks* I'm super in tune with my body and what I'm putting in it (or not putting in it), turns out I'm an extremely unconscious eater. I will get to the end of a day, wondering why I feel fatigued, achy and blah, and realize I only ate a sandwich and an apple, or that I haven't exercised or even moved my body adequately for more than a week.
So, before you start your extra self care hacks, make sure your basic ones are in check, too. You don't have to sign up for you neighborhood cross fit box or go on keto, just move, feed and rest your body as best as you can.
3. Get outside
I've talked a lot about the importance of getting some one on one time with good 'ol Mother Nature, and I'll continue to do it now. This is especially key if you work in an enclosed space or from home. During your lunch break, take a walk to the local park. Breathe in the fresh air. Let the sun shine on your face. If it's for 5 minutes or 30...go outside.
When it comes to keeping things organized, I'm kind of the worst. I really good at doing it in the first place, but maintenance? Forget about it. However, I guarantee if you unpack your suitcase from 3 weeks ago and make your bed in the morning, clean out your closest and/or scrub your bathroom, you're going to feel better.
5. Write it down and/or talk it out
The mind is filled with jumbled BS. That inevitably makes a human feel way more flustered with emotions than he or she needs to be. Sometimes, it's way more simple than it seems, and that can only be apparent if you write it down on paper. Write how you're feeling from day to day, what has helped, and what hasn't. When you can put your thoughts somewhere besides your abstract mind, it looks a bit more clear. Also, thoughts are just that - thoughts. Try not to take them too seriously.
Similarly, if you can hear yourself say, out loud, what you're feeling and what's bothering you, the answers to your own questions may be clear before the other person can even respond.
6. Vibes, baby.
Look, ~vibes~ is overused, but the hipsters of instagram are on to something. If you don't like that word, call it your cozy setup, the comforts, chill getup...IDK. But set your room up with some SUPER CHILL VIBES.
I'm talkin lavender essential oils in a diffuser, candles, plants, tiny buddhas, chocolate, red wine, baths and cozy blankets - or if it's 1000 degrees outside like it is here, a nice tower fan. Whatever simple things tickle your fancy, when you get home from work, set the zen mood.
One of my all time favorite YouTube music channels for said mood is Majestic Casual. Put on one of their mixes while you set the self care zone or while you declutter or are doing another one of these tips. Ultimate vibes.
7. Express gratitude
I wrote an entire piece on gratitude that is going to be published (yay!) so I can't share it quite yet, but until then, I encourage you to write down three things you are grateful for daily, whether you write it on your phone or use the Five Minute Journal (this one is great because it includes a section for daily affirmations as well, another useful tool when you're in a funk). Include the ordinary and the mundane. If you start noticing and being grateful for even the smallest daily occurrences, it undoubtably has a positive effect on your mood.
8. Say no when you have to, but also yes when you can
Socializing is really rough when you don't feel well. When I'm in a funk, I feel way more uptight in social settings than I usually do, and am probably not that fun to be around. If you need some time away to push the reset button - that's ok! Do some of these practices instead.
HOWEVER, when you find yourself saying no to the 3rd or 4th invitation to get out and do something, it might be doing more harm than good. Isolation and avoidance is not the key to growth and healing. It may be uncomfortable, you may be tired, but say yes to lunch and chances are you might feel more energized than when you left. Human interaction is important, pushing past discomfort is really important.
Oh and P.S., this includes social media too!
When I need a good laugh, I either call a trusted friend/Ryan and laugh about how weird I feel, read a meme page, or my favorite, watch Parks and Recreation. Whatever makes you laugh, go and do it. Laughter is medicine.
10. Add some color
A fan of only neutrals? Same. But it's summer, dammit, go to the market or nearby grocery store and get yourself some freakin' sunflowers and put that ish in your house. Then stare at them along with the rest of whatever you decided to use in point number 6.
11. Read a self help book/listen to a self help podcast
I'm kind of addicted to self help books. Or fictional books that have a real life lesson in them. I think it's so interesting to read different ways people have improved their lives. For me, I tend to gravitate towards those who incorporate meditation and Eastern philosophy into their practice. Reading or listening to other people's struggles and how they overcame is bound to instill at least some hope and motivation back to you. Here are some of my all time favorite feel good books:
The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
The Alchemist - Paulo Coleho
The Tao of Pooh - Benjamin Hoff
10% Happier - Dan Harris
A New Earth - Eckhart Tolle (Currently reading/being mind blown)
I Thought It Was Just Me - Brene Brown (also currently reading)
I also love listening to The Goop Podcast and How I Built This with Guy Raz.
For the best Goop podcast ever, listen to this one. It's with the one and only Oprah Winfrey, and she happens to love and follow the teachings of one of the above authors I mentioned.
I'll be the first to say it - I'm a wanna-be yogi and spiritualist. I find buddhist and eastern teachings so fascinating, and to me, they just make sense. But I have actually put many of the practices that I've learned in the above books (namely Eckhart Tolle's) into life. Though ungracefully, imperfectly and many times stagnantly, meditation and connecting to my inner spirit has undeniably changed my life for the better. I think Dan Harris says it best...it makes me about 10% happier when I am in a good rhythm and practice with it.
Eckhart Tolle's reads are some of the most profound I've ever encountered. They're difficult and can be quite wordy at times, but the essence of his teachings lie in body/breath awareness and meditation. Find your breath, be aware of your feelings and thoughts as they arise...sit and watch. Breathe through it.
If meditation is new to you, consider downloading the Headspace App, or take a guided class at your local yoga studio.
I write these to you not to be preachy, but instead to join me. There is no question that I need to follow my own advice. Sometimes, I just want to lay for a week straight and watch Friends reruns and eat popcorn in my underwear. But, writing to you on healthily dealing with a funk is also holding me accountable. We have all been there; sometimes the biggest relief stems from knowing you're not the only one.
Again, feelings are temporary, and you have all the tools within you to start feeling more like yourself. So, get crackin' and see ya on the other side!
To tackle point number 10, a friend and I went to Hitchen Lavender Fields near London :)