How do you get out of a funk?

I started a recent week feeling extremely low, sad and heavy-hearted. Some bad things had happened outside of my control, there was very little I could do to fix them, and my emotions had tanked as a result. I was feeling sad, mad, frustrated, hurt and more.

Have you ever noticed that once you start feeling low and negative about one specific thing (or 2-3 things, as in my case), suddenly ALL THE BAD THINGS spiral into your head and won’t go away?

I began feeling utterly overwhelmed with all the negativity and darkness I could see and feel – like there was no end in sight. Like I was being swallowed up by it and I couldn’t see any positive or good at all. It was NOT fun, and it is very rare for me to be in such poor mental health.

I literally put myself to bed at 7 pm – I was no good to anyone in that state. I thought some rest might help, and thankfully it did. 

So, what do you do when you get overwhelmed by bad stuff or negative emotions? Here is a list of the things I typically do to get myself back on track emotionally:

  • Signal the tribe. Typically the first thing I do is send out smoke signals on Facebook. I am so positive in my posts 95% of the time that if I put out an “SOS” in the form of a sad or vaguely negative post, friends and family know right away that something’s wrong. Sometimes I’ll even say outright that I need a hug. This way, the friends who see it and who have time to reach out will do so. I am often really touched by just who reaches out, and I invariably feel better after some kind and loving words from friends or family.
  • Phone a friend. If I’m really feeling low and only a deep conversation with a friend will do, then I’ll reach out to my tight innermost circle and ask for some quality time. E is always my #1 choice (yes, he’s my husband – but he’s also my best friend and ride or die!), unless that’s not possible. Now that my BFF has moved to Florida, unfortunately B and I are limited to phone and Facetime – but fortunately, my #sunriseruncrew besties are always up for getting together in person to talk.
  • Take a walk. Getting out in nature, ideally with a friend, is another great way to shake the blues away and get back in a clearer, more “me” mindset. There’s something about fresh air, trees and flowers, and conversation with someone you care about while you both pound the pavement for a while. It hits all the right buttons every time. Running outdoors in nature is also awesome for clearing the mind and gaining perspective.
  • Grow through pain. Anytime something hurts a lot emotionally, it is usually a sign we’re growing or that we need to grow. Growth times are called “AFOG” – another f*#$ing opportunity for growth – for a reason. They hurt! But, the growth is worth it. Just listen to Andy Grammar’s song “Wish You Pain” if you don’t believe me. This is a terrific lesson to pass on to our kids, too; emotional pain will always pass, and often we can learn and grow from it.
  • Call my mom. Often, my Mommers is one of the first calls I make when something goes wrong or I’m feeling lousy. She can always make me feel better and lift my spirits! I’m thankful that we talk every week; our standing phone dates always make my commute feel shorter and my heart a whole lot happier. There’s no one like your mommy to make you feel better.
  • Engage the senses. Making a cup of hot herbal tea, breathing in some essential oils, getting a massage, stretching out with some yoga or seeing my chiropractor for an adjustment are often my next self-care steps. There’s something about getting back in my body that helps free me from tangled thoughts and emotions. And if what I’m going through is major and growth-inducing enough, it may even trigger a tattoo appointment, since tattoo has historically been another form of self-care and personal therapy for me.
  • Get some rest/have a snack/snuggle the dogs. It’s really common to feel our lowest when we’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired – so anytime I’m feeling down, I try to reach for a healthy or comforting snack (hint: chocolate seems to help!) and then take a nap or go to bed early. Often, things seem brighter after a good night’s rest. Snuggling the dogs is a no-brainer – their perennially wagging tails and happy faces just make everything better!
  • Write it out. Journaling or blogging is my favorite way to work through tough times and issues by seeking the light through the darkness. I will often grab a journal and some favorite pens and begin to vent via “stream of consciousness” writing until I can figure out exactly what’s wrong, what I am feeling or how I can learn and grow from it. The expression “name it to tame it” factors in here – writing helps us figure out exactly what’s bothering us, which is often a first step to healing. 
  • Remember what’s important. Probably my favorite way to get out of a funk is to spend time with Zoebelle. She is the most beautiful, kind and courageous little person I know. She can always make me smile, get me laughing and refresh my mind and spirit. I don’t like to burden her with my sad or bad feelings – in fact, I try to spare her – but at the same time, it’s good for kids to see that adults deal with big emotions, too. If I do go to bed early because I’m feeling down, I try to let her know that so she can see how I’m dealing with things.

I’ve certainly used other methods to numb or cushion painful times in the past – including overeating, overindulging in mind altering substances or overspending – but those never helped as much as I wanted them to. I stand by my list above as these are far superior funk-busting methods. And you’ll notice I don’t have “treat yo’self” on the list above, because too often indulging ourselves is not actually self care, but is more of a numbing mechanism and takes us farther away from where we actually want to be.

What are your favorite ways to break out of a temporarily depressed or down mindset, and get back to feeling right as rain again? I’d love to hear in the comments below or over on Facebook.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat, snake and guinea pig mom. Travel nut. Writer since birth. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.

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