Some days are easy. You’re on fire. Focused. Productive. Energetic and Happy.
And some days, are, well, not. And right now, a lot of people I talk to are feeling this way, and for good reason: the shorter days, unrest in the world, uncertainty and isolation with COVID.
You probably already know what I mean when I say ‘feeling blah’ or ‘in a funk’. If you’re unfamiliar with ‘blah’, then lucky you. Here’s how I describe it: you feel down, a bit ‘off’, unmotivated, uninspired, generally dissatisfied. And there’s no glaring reason why. Your dog didn’t die. You didn’t just have a massive fight with your spouse. In fact, intellectually you know there’s much to be grateful for. Despite knowing all this, you simply feel, well ‘blah’, and you can’t quite shake it off.
I spent the better part of today feeling just that way. On the bright side, it inspired me to write this for you.
I have learned, through personal and professional experience, however, how to create a shift. I did it this afternoon, and I’d like to share it with you.
Before I share my ‘5 steps to get out of a funk’, please note that I’m talking about ‘blah days’. If you do experience these feelings for more than a few days, please, please, please reach out to someone who can support you, and talk to a health professional. It’s time that we open the conversation and get real about the ups and downs with people we trust.
Let’s start with what DOESN’T WORK.
- “Shoulding” yourself. “I should be feeling happy”; “I should be grateful for everything that I have”. The ‘should’s’ creates a discrepancy between where you are and some false expectation of where you ‘should’ be. The word ‘should’ is a red flag. There is no ‘should’. There is just what is.
- Overanalyzing the situation. Awareness can be really helpful, but sometimes we get stuck in the ‘why’… and we keep searching for the answer without moving forward.
- Blaming others or things you can’t control. Again, being aware of situations or circumstances is fine. But the only way to move forward is to take responsibility for what you can control. I get that this is easier said than done, and depending on the circumstance can take time.
So, what does work to create a shift from ‘blah’?
While there’s something to be said about ‘feeling the feelings’ and not necessarily trying to ‘fix’ moods that you’re uncomfortable with, I prefer to work my way through it. Here’s five ways to create a shift:
- Accept that it is part of the process. Going back to the ‘shoulds’; the discrepancy between what we think things should be like and the actual reality creates unnecessary tension. Stop arguing with reality; you won’t win. Feeling in a funk isn’t good or bad, it just is. And while I prefer not to stay in that state, accepting that it’s part of the process and part of normal life removes any unnecessary stress or the additional feelings when you think ‘what’s wrong with me?’. What we resist persists.
- Accept control. Now that you have accepted that feeling flat, empty or unfocused, is part of the journey and part of the human experience, it’s time to take control. Recognize that you have the power to change. You can decide to change your thoughts. Focus on what you can control. You can decide to take action, or not- but you do have the choice. And while continuing to blame others or circumstances may help you feel better about feeling in a funk, it won’t help you move past it.
- Get out of your head… and into your body. Literally. Move your body. I know we like to associate fitness and physical activity with weight loss and heart health, but the most immediate and impactful benefits of exercise are on your mental health and your mood. Go for a walk or run. Put music on and dance. I just went for a short hike while listening to an energizing playlist. For me right now, “Miss Atomic Bomb” by the Killers is on repeat. And “Low” by Flo Rida (yes… and I love it). If you’re at work and feeling stagnant, take a walk break or at least step outside for some fresh air. It’s transformational and it’s instantaneous. Movement changes your state.
- Connect with others. When you’re feeling down, you may feel inclined to hide under a rock. DON’T. Connect with people who love you and are worthy of hearing your story.
- Take action on SOMETHING that will help just a little bit. Hopefully your ‘something’ was moving your body. Other things you can do:
⭐️ Celebrate what’s going RIGHT. We can get down on ourselves when we’re not where we think we ‘should be’ (again… the word ‘should’) but taking a moment to celebrate your wins can shift your perspective.
⭐️ Take action on ANYTHING. If you’re feeling blah, it can be really hard to have the motivation to do anything. Start small so that you can create momentum with a quick win. Maybe it’s cleaning the kitchen or writing an email that you were putting off. Then celebrate your win; it could be as simple as checking that task off your list, or saying ‘good job’ to yourself. Sure it sounds silly, but it works.
⭐️ Get out of your head and into the world. In other words, serve others. Serving others will give you a refreshed perspective on your own issues. “We rise by lifting others” –Robert Ingersoll.
I wrote this with love, maybe a bit of tough love, and a whole lot of compassion. If you’re going through a tough time, my heart goes out to you. But if you’re in a funk and ready to get out, you can slowly, lovingly work through it. Take action. Your thoughts create your feelings. And you can gently shift your thoughts. And that’s a beautiful thing.