How To Get Out Of A Funk

What is it about the end of the year that I always find myself in a depressed space? Whether it be seasonal change and the flare up of my allergies, or the pressure of October/November exams, I can never escape the low moods and negative attitudes that pervade my head space at this time of year.

I call this state of negative affectivity my funk. It is often very difficult to pull yourself out of a funk, especially if you find it happening almost like an anniversary every year at the same time. While it may be seemingly unavoidable, if you let yourself settle and sink into it then it will become increasingly maladaptive to your cognitive functioning and mental wellbeing. Coping strategies and an arsenal of self-care tools will help cushion the blow of your funk.

Start with these simple steps when you are “feeling off”:

  1. 1. What am I feeling?

    Instead of passively taking to the bed or drowning your thoughts with mind-numbing Netflix marathons, interrogate your overactive brain. Engage in conversation with it by asking yourself what it is you are feeling. Often we say we are “feeling down” or we are “not okay”, but what emotion is that? By identifying what emotion is making you feel slow and lethargic, you may begin to think of the reasons why it is manifesting and how you may treat it.

  2. 2. Where do I feel it in my body?

    This can be a surprising question. When in a funk, the body can tense up with stress causing tender points and aching joints. This can pile onto the funk so that it becomes mentally and physically painful to do normal activities. You may even think you’re getting ill when in fact you’re just extremely stressed or upset! If you feel your stress in your tummy, try applying careful pressure or heat with a hot water bottle. If you feel it in your eyes, gentle massage your eyelids with your fingertips.

  3. 3. If it could talk, what would it say?

    Giving your funk a voice often helps to separate it from your healthy voice, and will give it a chance to speak to you about what is truly wrong. While you may not be able to interrogate yourself, you can interrogate your Funk Frenemy if you give it a once to speak. Ask it what it wants from you, what will make it feel better, and what it is trying to say by making you feel so low.

  4. 4. What step can I take to meet my need?

    The final step is to take real action to change your life! You’ve found where in your body you feel the funk, you’ve given your funk a voice to speak, and now you can figure out how to treat your negative emotion. Sure, sometimes all you want to do is switch off your brain and sleep for a few hours. But when you wake up, all you would have done is buried your emotion, not healed it. Talking and cuddling with a loved one, spending time outside and watching nature unfold, watching YouTube videos of baby penguins, or lathering yourself in your favourite strawberry lotion are some ways that I channel positivity and calm into my horrible funk.

The funk may seem insurmountable when you’re in the thick of it, but remember that you are in complete control of your body and mind. You are allowed to feel down and unwell, but if you let yourself marinate and stew in your funk, things are going to get worse. Don’t be afraid to question your mind about what you’re feeling.