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6 Steps to Getting Out of a Funk

I am someone who can easily fall into a state of listlessness.  It usually begins with procrastination. I have a Master’s degree in procrastination. I can spend hours upon days preoccupying myself from the things I want and need to do with menial tasks of pointless meandering.

Structure is something I have to consciously work hard at every day. There was not a lot of it in my childhood, so it does not easily come to me. It takes a tremendous amount of effort in order for me to find it.

When I find it I flourish.

When I can’t I become disheartened.

Most of the time I do not realize I am in this languish state until I am already in the belly of it.  I feel sleepy and lethargic and I get down on myself. If you are anything like me, you know that no matter what kind of external support or words of wisdom you hear the only thing that can get you out of it is the ability to say to yourself, “Enough.” Coming to trust this ability in ourselves helps us ignite the process and diminishes the level of self-doubt we can go to.

However, if you have not developed the right tools to pull you up and out of it, you can find yourself stuck there for quite some time. This happens for me when my routine has failed. Something has thrown me off my routine and then the next thing I know I am caught in a state of self-doubt and deprecation. Yuck. This is especially good to be aware of as we enter this holiday season, because nothing can knock us off of our routine better than holiday breaks and cold weather.

I have learned that as soon as I start to hear those abusive internal voices the first place I need to look at is how I am spending my time in my day. If I do not have a set routine I know it’s time to build one.

It’s time to dig in the toolbox of what I know can get me through this. I start slow and incorporate different ones in each day, so that I do not feel overwhelmed or discouraged by it.Each of us will have our own set of tools to support us, so yours may look different than mine, but the idea is the same.

  1. Detoxify. Cutting out alcohol or other depressants you tend to turn to are first. Even just one glass of wine a day can be enough to keep you in a listless state. Take a few days off of whatever your vice is and notice the energy and brighter state of mind creep back in.
  2. Set an Intention. Before you go to bed at night, or when you wake up in the morning, take a moment to invite a quality that will support you throughout the day. (You may read more about the process of inviting a quality into your day in a previous post titled Four Steps to Embodying a Vibrant Life.)
  3. Exercise. When I am in a down state I usually find myself skipping bike rides and yoga classes. And, since I am usually pretty lethargic during this period, the idea of a power yoga class or a lengthy bike ride on the hilly streets of San Francisco do not sound so appealing. I start slow by committing to a morning walk (instead of driving) to the Yoga studio for a gentle class so I can stretch. This will help rebuild the habit of getting up and out without the torture of going from zero to 100 overnight.
  4. Diet. Another thing that seems to fall to the wayside is nutrients. Instead of the healthy balanced diet I usually enjoy, I begin to crave more fat and starch. This is when I commit to incorporating one really healthy meal into my day. The more days I am exercising and including a healthier meal, the more my desire for the good stuff returns.
  5. Get Creative. For me, this is writing, for you it may be different. It could be playing around with an instrument, painting, drawing, arts and crafts, listening to inspiring music, creating or building something; even working on a puzzle will do the trick. The point is to spend some time doing something creative that you enjoy other than watching TV or even reading. These types of activities are referred to as “active resting” and do wonders for a better state of mind. Active resting will ignite your creative juices and get them flowing again. Where I would normally set aside big chunks of time to do this, I only commit myself to one hour a day. This, again, begins to rebuild the habit of having it in my day, and relieves me of the pressure of guilt for not doing it at all. What I usually find is that I end up spending a lot more than an hour, but I am guilt free even if I don’t because I have committed to and completed that one hour.
  6. Don’t turn on the TV. Just don’t even turn it on. Not only does it steal your time, it blocks your creativity decreasing your chances of really getting into the flow of #5.

Slowly incorporating each of these components into your day and easing yourself into them will bring you back to the structure that you need to feel purposeful and increase your mood tremendously. Even picking one of the items from this list and sticking to it opens the door for more of them to feel possible.

The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.” Tao Te Ching

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