How to Get Out of an Emotional Funk

We have all heard the saying “feeling down in the dumps”, but what exactly does this saying mean? To me, it is feeling sad, tired, bored, and anxious all at once, and for no particular reason. We may be having a fine day until all of a sudden it hits us and we are overcome with so much unexplainable negative emotion we literally need to sit down.

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The thing is, it doesn’t come out of nowhere, and you don’t need to sit down, not for too long anyways. I am a strong believer in the idea that our emotions are always trying to tell us something. The manifestation of such a feeling is a call to action. A heads up that something is not right and needs to be addressed.

The real catch 22 of this feeling is that you just want to lay down and do nothing, but laying down and doing nothing just makes you more unhappy. In order to overcome this feeling, you need to act. You need to approach the feeling with curiosity, not self-pity or worse, self-loathing. 

If I ever feel this way, the first thing I do is separate myself from the emotion, like this:

“ I feel this way, but I do not feel this way all the time. Therefore, the emotion is not me. I am simply the being that is experiencing this emotion at this very moment.”

In my experience, the recognition that you are not your emotion, is the catalyst that starts the process of alleviating it. 

Okay, so you are not this emotion, but you are still feeling it, so what now? Well, the next thing to do is to figure out what this emotion is trying to tell you. I recommend taking out a journal and writing at the top “I feel this way because” and just allowing yourself to free write whatever pops into your head for as long as you need. The act of writing down your thoughts helps ground you in the moment and slows down the chatter in your head that is perpetuating the negativity. 

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After you journal, you may be able to see more clearly that you are in fact not the emotion. You may even understand why you are feeling this way. The next thing to do is thank the emotion for trying to teach you something. As awful as you feel, thanking your emotion allows you to begin creating a more gentle and loving dialogue in your head. It also creates space for you to begin letting it go. 

In order to eliminate the negative thoughts, they need to be replaced with positive ones. After you thank your emotions for trying to help you, look up a positive affirmations recording online. My favorite is called Radical Self Love By Sarah Palmer and is available on audible, but there are other free ones on youtube as well. Putting on this recording and repeating each affirmation along with the recording for just 10 minutes can do wonders in lifting you out of the negative emotion.

Another option is to put on workout gear and do your favorite exercise in the world. For me, it means putting on my running shoes, going outside, and just letting it rip. While meditation is also an option, I find sitting still with my thoughts very difficult when I feel negative. Instead, exercise has the same effect of changing the focus of the mind and allowing you to re-center yourself, without the discomfort of consciously trying to release the grip of the negative thoughts. Exercise also makes you feel accomplished and creates endorphins in the body, which can alleviate the tiredness you feel. A long, slow run has turned around many bad days for me. 

Once you have alleviated the immediate suffering you are experiencing from the negativity, you are able to act on and address whatever caused the emotions in the first place. This can mean a range of things from getting started on something you have procrastinated on, confronting someone who said something hurtful to you, or even looking into therapy options to deal with deeply seeded issues. 

Regardless, it is important to accept the underlying cause of this emotion without judgement. Instead, thank yourself for listening to what your emotion was telling you and honor your decision to address what caused it. You can do it!