We’ve all had days when we feel down and don’t know why.
Before we start, let’s clarify one thing: it’s okay to be in a funk, it’s normal to experience bad moods from time to time and not be sure why, and, fortunately, there are steps that you can take to get yourself back into a relaxed and optimistic mindset.
What causes the funk?
To avoid feelings of restlessness or lack of purpose, many people maintain a fast-paced lifestyle. Sometimes if we are not using our brains and bodies for a “productive” endeavor, then we may begin to experience guilt. To avoid that guilt, we choose to keep moving, keep our brains active, and check items off the list. But amid all this movement, sometimes we forget one thing: to just be.
Sometimes, if we don’t make time to focus on our own perspective and the bigger picture of our mental and emotional health, we may hit a wall.
Without doing that mental health “housekeeping,” we may start to feel fatigued, lethargic, and unmotivated. We may even lose interest in things that we used to love to do. It may feel like we can’t shake a lingering sense of sadness, apathy, or lack of motivation. There are a few reasons why we may have gotten to this state but rest assured that there are also ways to manage it positively!
Many of us feel so conditioned that we have to be constantly happy and progressing that on those days when we feel less than awesome, it can feel like there is something monumentally wrong with us for having an “off” day or being in a bad mood.
So instead of taking the day off, many of us choose to forge ahead and try to shake the funk. And often that works just fine, until eventually those feelings catch up with us.
Things like negative self-talk, distracting yourself from difficult feelings, and working through sickness, may work to keep you feeling “productive” in the moment, but they can often be detrimental in the long term. If you are one of those individuals who does not take a sick day when sick, it may eventually catch up to you in the form of an affected mindset or even mental health changes.
Sometimes, what we call “funks” are indicative of a more serious clinical issue. Lack of motivation, fatigue, lethargy, and loss of interest in things formerly interesting to us are common symptoms of major depressive disorder.
For individuals struggling with major depression, getting out of a difficult spell may feel especially difficult, because depressive episodes may last days, weeks, or even months.
Despite this, there are steps one can take to get out of a funk and gain momentum towards feeling better. For example, treatment for someone who experiences clinical depression may include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, or problem-solving therapy.
Getting Out By Getting In
One way of moving forward can be to stop fighting difficult emotions and simply let them happen. This is not to suggest that you allow yourself to fall into a negative thought spiral, but just acknowledge the emotions you have at the present moment and let them work themselves out without becoming frustrated further by them.
Sometimes the funk is just our mind’s way of saying, “time out. Give me a moment.”
This can be a chance to have a day-in. Consider closing the blinds, reading a book, binge-watching a series, breathing a bit, or just giving yourself time to be still and rest.
Set Small Action Goals
Being in a funk can sometimes feel like being stuck in the mud. The longer the funk lasts, the harder it feels at times to get out of it.
One way to cope with this is to set small action goals for yourself throughout the day to get some momentum going.
Being concrete and specific about goals is also helpful, as abstract, broad goals may be hard to achieve. For example, “exercise more” may inspire less action than “after lunch, go for a 15-minute walk outside.”
Self-Care Is Key
One positive aspect of being in a funk is that it’s an opportunity for self-care. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish! This is a time for you to slow down and prioritize your needs.
Self-care doesn’t mean doing whatever you want in the moment, because it won’t take long before the newness wears off of split-second decisions that don’t offer substantial support. Often it means taking care of yourself the same way you would care for a child or friend. For example, take some time to make a big, healthy meal to nourish your body. Treat yourself to something special, however small, like an at-home spa day, a cup of tea, warm bath, or a luxurious skin care routine.
Tips for Coping With A Funk
- Allow yourself to feel these emotions without mentally chastising yourself for them.
- Take the funk as a sign that you need some self-care and take a day off.
- Mediate or practice taking a deep breath for ten minutes.
- Write down ten things you are feeling grateful for.
- Move around, stretch, and sweat a bit to help release endorphins.
- Watch a comedy and laugh out loud.
- Flip through photo albums of happy memories.
- Lean on your friends or family members for emotional support.
- Put on upbeat music and dance to it.
- Try a new hairstyle, makeup, or outfit.
- Put on your favorite song and sing out loud.
- Take a long walk and enjoy some fresh air.
- Find beauty in nature by going on a hike.
- Light your favorite candle or use some essential oils for aromatherapy.
- Try cooking or baking a dish you love.
- Draw, sing, write, or get creative somehow.
- Help someone else or get involved with a local charity.
- Try a new healthy food or turn to your favorite comfort food.
- Invest in a relationship mindfully. Plan a date or coffee with your best friend.
- Seek help from your medical doctor if your depressed mood doesn’t improve with time.
As human beings we all experience days when we just do not want to participate in life, work, or even family. It is not easy to take a break from our responsibilities, and even when we can, we might feel guilty.
But our minds need breaks; we need to allow time for that or else we might become burned out or stressed, forcing our brain to take a break whether we want it to or not – this is the funk. This involuntary break is the type of funk that it is often most difficult to climb out of again because we feel emotionally drained. Being in a temporary funk is normal, and taking a mental health day can help you gain valuable insights into how to move on.
However, if you or someone you love seems clinically depressed and appears to feel stuck, it may reflect a more serious condition. Differentiating between a temporary funk and clinical depression is vital. If you are experiencing clinical depression, it may be important to seek the advice of a licensed mental health therapist.
Research shows that online therapy can help decrease symptoms of depression. For example, one study demonstrated how people who used BetterHelp experienced a significant decrease in depression symptom severity after engaging in online therapy.
However, factors like lack of availability in certain areas, stigmas surrounding therapy, cost, or lack of transportation can make it difficult for people to find care. Online therapy platforms can help address these factors:
- Online therapy was shown to be generally more cost effective than in-person therapy.
- Some social pressures around therapy and counseling are lessened or removed entirely when the therapy is online.
- Online therapy is available even to people who live in remote areas or may not have immediate admission to a certified therapist’s office.
- Costs like childcare, time off work, and transportation are eliminated because the person may receive the counseling at home or in the office.
Going through "a funk" can be a common experience for many people. However, there are many coping tools available to move forward to better days, including connecting with loved ones, spending time outside, starting therapy, or engaging in hobbies you love.
Frequently Asked Questions
For examples of questions that might be beneficial to explore in therapy, please see below.
How Do You Get Out Of A Funk?
What Does Get Out Of A Funk Mean?
What Does I'm In A Funk Mean?
How Do You Get Out Of A Laziness Funk?
What Is A Funk Feeling?
How Long Does A Funk Last?
How Do I Motivate Myself?
How Do You Get Out Of A Mental Slump?
Why Am I Always In A Funk?
What Causes You To Not Feel Like Yourself?
What To Do When Your Partner Is In A Funk?
What Is The Secret To Motivation?
How Can I Motivate Myself In 5 Minutes?
How Do I Stop Depression In My Head?
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