By: Rachel Goldsmith, AMFT, MS
We do a lot of talking this time of year about resolutions and committing to making changes in our lives. While you might have some specific goals for yourself for the new year, like starting a yoga class or watching one less hour of television a night, perhaps you just have a loosely defined sense that something needs to change, but you are not exactly sure what. You are in a funk – not necessarily depressed but feeling a little lost, stuck, or listless. Haven’t we all been there? The good news is that even though you might be in a funk, you do not have to stay there and there are ways you can help yourself get past it. Here are 10 ways to help yourself move beyond your funk and on to brighter days in 2014.
- Take a bird’s eye view. It can be hard to see what is happening to ourselves when we are entrenched in our own experience. Try to orient your mind to a bird’s eye view of your life and current situation to see if you can get some insights into the broader context in which your “funk” exists. You might be able to see factors that you can change in your life that were otherwise invisible to you.
- Do the opposite. Or at least something different. Our brains like novelty. It keeps us on our toes, and our minds active and engaged. Sometimes we can snap ourselves out of a funk by actively doing the opposite of something we routinely do. For example, take a completely different route to work this week – savor the new sights, smells, and people you interact with along the way. If you always get defensive in your arguments with your spouse, try (even just once!) what it feels like to instead be reflective and empathic (i.e. “I hear that you’re really mad that I did not put my dishes in the sink. I did not mean to make you upset.”). If you always go straight home after work, make plans to stay out doing something fun instead. Change things up!
- Get out! There are so many benefits of being outdoors (when it’s not 15 below zero). Breathing in fresh air (not recycled office air we get at work!), listening to the sounds of nature, and feeling the sun on our skin are all healing activities in and of themselves. When you find yourself feeling listless and blue, give yourself even 5 minutes outdoors to see if that helps you shift your perspective.
- Move. Although it might seem obvious, do not forget to be active. Exercise reminds ourselves that we are alive and capable, and it sends good hormones through our bodies that may be just what you need to get out of your funk. We know that even 15 or 20 minutes of physical activity is beneficial, so make it happen.
- Unplug. If you are guilty of spending a lot of time looking at your screens (phone, computer, television, etc.), make a conscious effort to limit screen time. Although we get lots of information from our devices (which can make it seem like we are using our brains and minds) it often just assists in us zoning out from the world and our broader experience. It can contribute to feeling stagnant and somewhat bored. Read a book, take a walk, meditate, or talk to someone.
- Explore your values. Our lives gain meaning, joy, and satisfaction when we live in concert with our most deeply held values. If you are in a funk, perhaps there is an area of your life where you are not living in accordance with your values. Maybe volunteer work is something you highly value but just are not making time for. Make a commitment to change that by seeking out even one night of volunteering a week and see if that lifts you out of your fog.
- Laugh. Being in a funk can make the world seem gloomy and pointless, so counteract that by watching your favorite funny movie, going to see an improv show, or calling your funniest friend. You can even choose to just laugh at yourself. Laughter can engender positive feelings within us that may linger for hours (or more!).
- Talk about it. We all need support, and perhaps this is one of those times when you need to actively seek it out. Talk to a loving, kind friend or call a therapist. There is no shame in asking for help.
- Take a different perspective. Try to look at your situation from someone else’s point of view. It might open you up to new, more satisfying ways of thinking that ultimately helps you relate to and feel differently about your life.
- Recall the positives. Have you ever been in a funk and getting an unexpected phone call from someone you love has pulled you out of it? Do not wait around for someone else to help you remember all that you appreciate and are grateful for – do it yourself! Make a list of everything you are happy about, everything that is positive in your life, and see if that helps you get past your funk.