Stuck in a funk? If there was one word to describe how you are currently feeling, would it be ‘blah’ or ‘ugh’? Are you finding it difficult to get from ‘funk’ to ‘funky’? From sad to glad? Turning that frown upside-down?
Today is all about breaking that funk by changing our focus and breaking the pattern! What pattern? YOUR pattern! Your thought pattern, your routine pattern, your relationship pattern etc.!
We are pattern-creating creatures by nature. We LOVE patterns, and by throwing a switch on your current track, we veer a different direction and catch a new scenery. By changing our focus we can change our thoughts and emotions.
We ALL fall into a funk every once in a while and how we choose to respond will determine how quickly we can escape its clutches and get back to living. We have short funks lasting a day or less, and long funks where the expiration date is undetermined. Both are no fun, so let’s spice it up and see what funk-breakers we can come up with. Here are my favorite methods, and I’d love to hear some of yours!
Try These Funk-Breakers
1. Burn Some Energy – Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way. If I’m in a funk, simply getting my blood pumping and skin perspiring helps rebalance the chemicals in my brain. It breaks my funk pattern from focusing on my woes and allows me to refresh my mind. If I push myself to the limits, my mind has little choice but to recognize the strain I am giving my body – I focus on the personal growth and how wonderfully sore I’ll be the next day.
Angry? Emotions need to be expressed and burning the emotion off is one of the healthiest ways to do so, AND everyone around you will appreciate it!
2. Distract Yourself – When I find myself focusing on the negative aspects and complications in my life, I like to change course by killing those thoughts using some good ol’ fashion distractions. I look up some of my favorite comics and usually have a hard time not smirking, I watch an episode of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and find it impossible not to laugh, or I simply make funny faces at myself in the mirror and realize how ridiculous I am. Really, who does that? Oh wait, me.
Here is my absolute favorite technique and never fails me: opening my phone and admiring the beauty and pureness of my nieces and nephews – the cuteness factor can’t be measured. My phone background is always one of the kids and I can’t help but let out a sigh, a smile, and feel that there is so much good in my life.
3. Change Your Thoughts – This can be similar to distracting yourself but takes more conscious effort than simply throwing something in front of you. I like to close my eyes and find irony or humor in my current situation and picture my life as if it was a sitcom, and if it was, would I be laughing my ass off right now? If you get too good at this you may find yourself narrating your own life.
4. Move Your Body – Feeling stressed? Does your body feel it? Feeling angry? Are your hands clenched? Feeling nervous? How is your stomach? Every thought and emotion has a direct connection to your body (our nervous system is awesome). And amazingly, it works bilaterally. By manipulating your body you can affect your head!
Try it – Unclench your hands, take a walk, run in circles until you fall down, or jump up and down a yell ‘hallelujah’ (or something silly). Like to dance? Turn on some music and boogy-woogy. MY favorite method – Forcing myself to smile! Your brain realizes you are smiling and starts asking ‘WTF?‘… this breaks the pattern.
5. Sensation Overload – Let me preface this one with saying that I’m not advocating comfort foods or indulging in physical pleasures to disguise your funk. THAT fun is only short-lived. I’m talking about exploring your SENSES. Your eyes are already overly stimulated and sight is the most powerful sense (and dims your focus on the other senses), so I suggest doing these while your eyes are closed.
Take in the scent of a flower, fruit, or favorite fragrance. Put on the earphones and listen to your favorite musical experience (I prefer without lyrics). Have any favorite items to touch? Stuffed animals, special fiber fabrics, or even putting your hand in sand? What about taste? Don’t indulge but do savor every bite without other distractions. This surprisingly works for a lot of people!
6. Fake it Till You Make It – Just because you are in a funk, doesn’t mean you have to be an energy leech and zap everyone else around you. The Fake it Till You Make It approach works because you go with the flow, you move your body (#4), you distract yourself(#2), and when you get sucked into living in the moment, you forget you were in a funk at all. Don’t overly fake it – this is usually obvious and annoys the people around you, plus, you look ridiculous. Put on the show of your life!
7. PLAY – I know you may not feel like playing, but find someone who needs some play-time and take one for the team. Go throw a Frisbee to your dog. Play basketball with your kids. Play peek-a-boo with a toddler. Entertain your cat with a laser pen. Seeing someone you care about being happy is contagious. And sure, play with your wife.
8. Enjoy Nature – Get outside! I like to replenish my much needed Vitamin D and revel in all the sounds, sights, and scents I can experience. Sit in a park and close your eyes and try to hear everything that is going on around you – listen hard. Admire the variety of colors. Find patterns in the sky. Watch an active battle between predator and prey as birds swoop in from all directions. Watch the squirrels battle over their nuts. Admire the erratic flying patterns of insects (too extreme? Maybe I’m just too curious).
Being exposed to nature is a constant reminder of how the entire world seemingly works and flows together.
9. Take a Nap – Recharge your batteries and rebalance your brain by falling into a blissful slumber where you can play with unicorns, eat clouds that taste like marshmallows, and ride a rainbow. Um, I don’t REALLY dream about this stuff… why, do you?
10. Wait it Out – Can’t take a nap? Many times our brain just needs a reboot and simply acknowledging your funk and letting others know about it is the smartest idea.
Saying ‘Funk You’ To Your Funk
Yes, I realize the title to this section is a little ‘much’ for a website such as this but I couldn’t resist. If you are offended then I suppose I should recommend a few personal development articles that discuss why taking offense is a personal choice 😉 I kid, I kid.
Has your ‘funk’ set up shop and isn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon? Being stuck in a lingering funk isn’t ideal and an escape route can be difficult to pin down. I don’t know about you, but I tend to turn inward and focus on my woeful thoughts and allowing very little of the outside world to really matter. I tend to hide from the population and desire very little social interaction. Sometimes we know what we SHOULD do, but then don’t care enough to do anything about it.
Sometimes we just need a little bit of encouragement and a push in the right direction. Want to kill the funk? Start using the following strategies daily, and notice the positive effects!
11. Change Your Vocabulary – The vocabulary we use can have a powerful influence on how we feel. The words we habitually choose also affect how we communicate with ourselves, and thus, affecting our experience. Tony Robbins calls this ‘Transformational Vocabulary’ and spends a lot more time on the subject in his book ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ (starts on page 200). Do you catch yourself saying things like ‘I HATE it when…’, ‘I am so SICK of…’ or using extremes such as ‘I’m starving to death!’?
Words are powerful and your thoughts rely on them for clarification of your experience. Change your vocabulary and change your experience.
12. Be Grateful – This is truly great for breaking the pattern. Our emotions are affected by what we focus on. Why not focus on the good things in our life? I like to ‘count my blessings’, be thankful for my loved ones and for being loved by them, and think about how fortunate I am in so many ways. Read about Gratitude! Can you be thankful for your health? Can you be thankful for your skills and talents? Can you be thankful for all the things normally taken for granted?
13. You Don’t Need a Reason – You don’t need a reason to feel good. You can feel good right now. No, this isn’t an infomercial and I’m not going to sell you a bottle of pills for instant relief. This is a big claim, but is very true – yet not always easy. How?
By using emotionally packed, powerful, and creative visualizations. These are thoughts that are not just words running through your head, but visual imagery and movies that you recall from past experiences or create new ones.
Using 100% concentration to focus on a joyful and happy past experience – or visualize wonderful experiences to come. Neuroscientists have shown that when we clearly visualize, part of our brain can’t tell the difference between an event you created and an even that actually occurred.
Close your eyes and don’t just think about, but VISUALIZE your first kiss, the day you got your driver’s license and took your first drive (alone), a surprise birthday party, your wedding, a college spring break and other memorable moments. Can you feel a noticeable change?
14. Questions Can Hold the Answer – Sometimes asking the right questions will make all the difference. Our questions direct our focus! It’s not the events in life that determine how we feel, but rather, it’s how we interpret and evaluate our life experiences.
If you ask terrible questions, you are going to get terrible answers. If your questions sound like ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ or ‘Could this get any worse?’ or ‘Why are they so lucky?’, will answering these questions improve your situation? Definitely not.
When you ask better questions, you get better answers. When you ask questions that don’t permit a negative response, your brain will naturally try to find the answer and the result will hopefully breed a positive response. “How can I turn this into a success?”, “What can I learn from this?”, “How can I increase my opportunities for “luck”?”.
Don’t ask, “Why am I such a failure?” – ask, “How can I be a success?”. ‘HOW’ questions usually promote action!
15. Help Those in Need – When I say ‘in need’, this applies to all areas including financial, physiological, emotional or mental! Cheer someone up, help someone move, assist at a shelter, drop off a bag of food to the guy on the corner, or help your elderly neighbor mow the lawn.
I like to remind myself that life doesn’t revolve around me and helping others allows me to get ‘me’ off my mind. What better way to do this than by inspiring a sincere smile, laugh, or tears by helping another person out?
Don’t just try out one of them and expect instant results… try ALL of them.
What do you think?! How do YOU get yourself out of a funk?
Photo Credit (Bear): Debbini