We all have our rough times, when we feel stuck, depressed or just discouraged. I am prone to this, particularly towards the end of winter, or when I have overextended myself socially. Sometimes, it’s a creative paralysis– I don’t feel like I can produce anything, and it’s frustrating. We all get in a funk sometimes. Here are some ways that I have learned to get out of a funk.
10 Ways to Get Yourself Out of a Funk
1. Check out your biological balance. Take an inventory:
- Are you going to bed at a decent hour? How is your sleep?
- Are you eating well and keeping your blood sugars stable?
- Could you be Vitamin D deficient? If so, supplementing is cheap and easy– here’s the one I use.
- Are you stressing your liver with too much alcohol and processed foods?
- Are you dieting or not eating enough calories?
Our bodies work hard to keep a chemical equilibrium at all times– but sometimes we need to consciously work on helping with that process. A chemical imbalance can (and will) absolutely affect our moods. So good sleep, nutrition and self care are not a panacea– they are critical in helping us regain emotional balance.
If you are struggling with sleep, it’s really important to address it. Check out Emily Benfit’s Sleep Solution. Be mindful of what works for you and which foods make you feel worse, then respect that knowledge by doing your best to nourish yourself well. Read The Nourished Metabolism by Elizabeth Walling and follow her simple recommendations to bring your body into balance.
2. Do time with the issues. As much as we would like to be able to simply transcend our worst mental and emotional struggles, we need to acknowledge them and take a look. Ignoring them is completely useless– our issues will continue to grow and upset us until they have our full attention. Acknowledging negative emotions is not the same as indulging them.
Our feelings are there to help us understand and explore the situation better. Don’t let them run you over; allow them to guide you. It is helpful to write them down. Start with a feeling: “I feel disappointed” and then go further– “I feel disappointed about….” Go deeper again. Whatever the feeling, it is completely worth the time and energy to spend a little longer defining it more specifically. Remember that specifics are more manageable than vague feelings. Do not be afraid to identify whatever it is that you are angry, sad, scared, or frustrated about. These feelings are valid and need to be acknowledged before they can then be released.
This technique for getting past an emotional block could be very helpful for you.
If you are struggling to identify your feelings, consider talking with a friend or a therapist to help bring some clarity to what you are experiencing. If you discover that you have a lot of fear that is creating your funk, read this post on how to face your fears.
3. Write about it. Journaling is not just for sentimental types! Writing down your thoughts can be extremely helpful in crystallizing your thoughts and feelings. One practice I especially recommend is writing “morning pages,” as described by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. The idea is that you write freehand first thing in the morning, filling three pages every day. It doesn’t matter at all what you write about– just put down whatever comes to your mind. This has an incredibly clarifying and freeing effect. At the beginning of the day, you get to notice and release all of the things that are clouding your mind as you begin. This process is very helpful for me whenever I feel stuck creatively or overwhelmed with my work or parenting, or any other kind of funk.
4. Create something. Using the artistic/ intuitive parts of your brain can help you bring understanding to the parts of your life that you cannot logically comprehend. Likewise, there are things that you cannot express through words– so use your creative side, engage your senses, or move your body through dance as a way of expressing yourself. This could also come in the form of learning a new skill– which helps get us out of our heads and more into our bodies.
5. Channel your energy in a positive way. When I am feeling upset about something, my house usually looks cleaner than usual. Anger really gets me cleaning, as does trying to problem-solve. If you are feeling stuck, consider your surroundings– are things piling up around you? What is your living space doing for your mood? Clearing out clutter and improving your environment can really help you shift your own energy, and focusing on a task like this can also give you space to think and work some things out.
I have a few resources to recommend for you, for when it’s time to do let go of some excess stuff. One is the ebook The Clutter Trap by Robin Konie– she has such a great approach to helping you minimize and streamline your life– this will also create a lot more mental space for you.
Another, stronger medicine is the 30-Day Guide to a Clean and Clutter-Free Home. This is more of a program, with lots of detailed instructions, charts, etc., for when you are really ready to make it happen and could use some extra support.
The other resource is for letting go of clothes you no longer wear. One thing that keeps me from clearing clothes out is the knowledge that these garments are worth something, and it makes it hard for me to just get rid of them! I recently tried a service called ThredUp– sent them my well-made clothes for free, and they bought them from me! They have a nice online shop where you can also buy second hand clothes– the prices and quality are great, so you should check it out! (This is a referral link, which means that you can get $20 to spend when you sign up through it.) I should also mention that they accept kids clothes, too. It’s so easy to use, and I love that there are services like this that will hopefully help lessen the demand for excessive, cheap clothing production!
6. Get Bodywork.
Have you ever heard the saying, “We carry our issues in our tissues?” It’s true. I am a bodyworker myself, and it’s amazing how our emotions and life experiences find their way into our muscles and other tissues, and stay there, producing pain, limitation and even disease. Getting massage or energy work, or acupuncture from a talented practitioner can be extremely helpful as you navigate life changes and difficult situations. Releasing tensions in your body helps in also letting go of tensions and anxieties in your mind. I have witnessed powerful personal transformations as a result of effective bodywork treatments. I particularly recommend CranioSacral Therapy. You can find a skilled practitioner in your area through this website at The Upledger Institute. If you can’t find or afford a good massage therapist, then exchange back rubs with your partner– human touch is very therapeutic.
A hot bath with epsom salts is also a powerful way to relieve muscle tension and stress. This is my easiest self care go-to when I am feeling overwhelmed.
Meditation is an excellent mind-body exercise to help you release stress and restore internal balance. Here’s a my simple meditation technique for beginners.
7. Give in to it, for a time. Make an appointment with yourself to be in your funk, and to explore those feelings. In the past, making a mixed tape (or CD) of songs that I felt embodied my emotional state, helped me. I listened to that music, and felt those feelings until they eased. This is the opposite of the advice most of us get– “If you’re feeling sad, put on some peppy music! Dance it out!” Although that can work sometimes, but I feel this approach is more of a band-aid than a healing process.
My go-to is often to clear my schedule, ask for the space I need from my family, buy myself some flowers, and take a hot bath. There may be weeping, there may be a sad movie (or an episode of this poignant show), there may be some chocolate cake involved. Whatever feels right to you for nurturing yourself and allowing yourself to be where you’re at is what you need.
8. Give to others. Kindness can heal, and gratitude does, also. When you begin to feel sorry for yourself, make a point of doing something kind for someone else. Or reaching out and thanking someone for the joy or nourishment they have brought into your life. This will take your mind off of your own issues and open the world up to you just a bit. And guess what? Kindness and good deeds are proven mood-lifters! Even making a donation to a charity helps. (Here is one of my favorite charities.)
Expressing gratitude can actually rewire your brain for happiness. So it’s is totally worth making a point of doing it daily.
9. Go outside and move your body. Taking a walk in nature is helpful in many ways. Invite a friend to walk with you if you want, and then you get three-for-one therapy: community, exercise, and talk therapy. I like to walk alone and think– it can be very clarifying. For me, there is no bad mood that can’t be dispelled by a walk in nature. Sometimes when I get there I am very skeptical about whether or not it will work, because I’m feeling so bad. But it always does, every time!
Exercising increases the oxygen available to your brain, and helps you to solve problems. So when you feel stuck or overwhelmed, take some time to see something beautiful, breathe deeply and move your body outside.
10. Play! Playing or having fun may feel like the last thing you want to do. But it can be so helpful. Laughter is an incredible stress reliever, and going out and doing something frivolous or silly helps put life back into perspective. This is also a great way to bring your family into your life when you have been brooding. Watch funny movies, look for good stand-up comics, play silly games with your kids. Do cartwheels if you know how– being upside down once in a while is good for you, too! Whatever it is that makes you smile, laugh, or forget about all the things that are on your mind– do more of that, and make it a priority.
Know that the times of sadness, inertia and “funk” are a really normal part of life. There is nothing wrong with you, and it’s important to have times of reflection to process big and small changes in life. Give yourself plenty of grace, and reach out and ask for help when you need it. Don’t just suffer in silence– do something to help yourself out the funk you are in, whether it’s getting extra self-care, making space for yourself to process, getting professional help, or seeking out more fun and creativity in your life.
This post contains adapted excerpts from my ebook, Pruned: Blossoming Through Life’s Difficult Seasons. If you’d like to read more and learn how to use life’s most challenging situations as a catalyst for a more joyful and meaningful life, click here.
What is your best advice for getting yourself out of a funk?
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I like to watch a good show or read something nice to get out of a funk. The last time that didn’t work and neither did going to my work out class. Funny thing was going to a trampoline place and jumping with my kids did get me out of it.
Trampolining with your kids is a great idea!! It’s hard to jump and still feel sad or grumpy, isn’t it?
Sorry to be picky but what happened to number 5?!
Good catch, Sheila! I was moving the numbers around and must have accidentally deleted it! Fixing now…
I will buy myself some flowers today, thank you very much for this post!
You are welcome, wishing you well Vic! Peonies are my favorite comfort flowers. 🙂
Grow in Grace Life says
Good advice! I need to always remind myself to ‘let myself mend’ without feeling guilt of not being able to accomplish all of my responsibilities at those moments. It’s good to give in to those times during a ‘funk’ because sometimes i’ts your bodies way of telling you to put on the brakes and reassess what it is you may be doing that needs to change. Right now I definitely need to get some massage therapy ( hurt my shoulder badly due to all of my improper heavy lifting while volunteering for a food outreach), yet I have not done anything about it! When you are always taking care of others, you forget to take the time for yourself. That can lead to weariness and then to physical problems. Most of the time I am feeling great,strong and energetic and then I overdo it after a while. And then I crash and am debilitated ( when will I learn!?) I get in ‘the funk’ when I am forced to stop and can’t continue. I will need to try and overcome these moments, because they will always happen ( unexpected occurrences in life). Mostly, it helps me to know that God is in control and that I can always go to Him with my needs and to ask for help in all circumstances. Having peace through all things is something I strive for.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us! I do think that our bodies know more about our well being and needs more than our heads do. It can be easy to feel like our bodies are betraying us when they give out– but I think it’s a powerful way to tune in. My emotional state has almost always played out in my body, so now I try to cut back *before* my body has to shout too loudly. It’s a hard lesson to learn, though!
Cara McDonald (@caramcdo) says
Thank you for this. I googled “How to get out of a funk” and discovered this piece. I’ve been in a funk the past few days and needed some ideas to snap out of it. Appreciate your great tips!
So glad to hear that this was helpful, Cara! Thanks for taking the time to tell me, too.
Megan Stevens says
Lovely, loving, practical article, written with kindness. It feels like you’re writing as a sister, but with knowledge and experience. I’m thankful for the many people your writing will help out of a funk…
excellent list.. I was sad to see there wasn’t anything about God or prayer ..
but my list With Him is pretty close to yours.
I go for walks.. either listening to my player , old radio shows my fav.. or Praying & or singing a fav hymn. (where we live , we have a long lane.. that I walk up & down.. I don’t bother my neighbors with my singing voice.. the Bible does say to “make a joyful Noise “:-)
doing for others is ALWAYS a winner……. we are blessed with God given ability to want to help & in doing so , we have the gift of feeling good too.
Count your blessings…. instead of complaining.. 🙂
drink plenty of water.. lemon water gives you a natural energy boost..
for me .. doing the one job in the house I have been putting off .. sweeping the floor LOL. or unloading the dishwasher.. when I finally do it I feel the other things that need to be done are a piece of cake..
hum….. did someone say cake.. Perhaps my favorite cake baking in the oven will get me feeling better too ?:-0
Thank you so much for this great post! It put a smile on my face already 🙂
I’m always in a funk lol Thanks for the good tips to try out.
I’m so glad I read this. I was in a Funk that is hard to get out of. I think one day I’m ok then the funk comes again and then I get anxiety attacks. I’m going to try all of this and see how it helps me. Thank you for sharing.
was in a violent car accident 5 years ago that changed my way of life completely I divorced my husband of 20 years got remarried I’m just not the same I’m surprised my new husband stays with me because if I was him I don’t think I could be with someone like me. I cant do anything anymore without being in pain. All I can do is work and that is a challenge. I don’t cook anymore I barely clean I cant stand myself anymore and I have no confidence or self worth. I feel like I’m a waste of oxygen and have no purpose there is no reason for me to be here anymore and I don’t think I was supposed to survive the car accident. That’s sad huh? I’m feel like I’m an attractive 46 yr old, but nothing to offer anyone. I’m always in pain. I tell my husband that I want to stay home and not work anymore so that way I would have more energy. But he wants to wait another year and I don’t think im going to make it. This is the first time I’ve written this down and read it back, I sound so terrible. This is not who I am. but this is who I’ve become.
Mary, thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry to hear that life has been so difficult since your accident– it’s not your fault. You were definitely meant to survive. I would like to encourage you to seek help. Beyond a therapist and medical help for your pain, please consider seeing a trained craniosacral therapist. If I were nearby, I would treat you! A good therapist can help you with the emotional issues, pain, and residual trauma from your accident. Sending prayers for healing. I believe you can heal and enjoy life again.
thank you for your post just reading it made me feel like finally someone knows how I feel….that in itself made me tear up and release some well needed pent up feelings.I can completely relate and it sucks when you try to explain it to someone buy feel guilty by burdening them with your feelings.I can completely understand where you are coming from.I hope that you can find some relief from your pain and feel better knowing that you are not alone.sometimes a little validation makes us feel like we’re not alone and someone has heard and listened to you.hang in there and something that helps me is remembering that I have the right to feel the way I do and that my feelings are my feelings and no one can change them,this is something only you can change and it’s not always an easy road.try to think about what is good in your life like your husband and try to do something for yourself that makes you feel better and don’t feel guilty for doing it.good luck and thank you for sharing
So sorry. I pray that you start telling yourself much more positive attributes that you have to offer this world. I pray that your pain goes away and that you find happiness. I don’t know you but my gut tells me you’re much more of a beautiful person they give yourself credit for. Find your inner peace, pray to God often & Love yourself.
I’m reading this post a little late, but want to say that this is simply perfect. Sometimes it’s a nice reminder that being in a funk is completely normal. That feeling tends to make a person feel like something is wrong with them, but reading this was just what I needed to help me out! Thank you!
Ive been in a funk for the past few weeks, months really, so i googled ‘how to get out of a funk’ and this article popped up. It made me realize how I used to do all of these things, but then just stopped. Im making it a point to start doing all of these again, starting with a drive up to the mountains for a hike and reflection time. Thanks for the reminders!
Teresa W says
Hi Liz. I did what you did. I googled, how to get out of a funk. So I took it for advice to try a epsom salt warm bath, and call up a friend that cut my grass that just finished 44 radiation treatments and take him surprisely (not telling him what I am going to do). A place is coming to mind. But I think I am going to go to long john silver or captain dee’s and get a carry out pack, and go to a place near water which has picnic tables and watch the ducks and get some vitamin D (sunlight_ Get out into nature. Thanks for your post and this website.
This was great. It really was helpful especially today. I had an ehh day! Thanks for the post. I am willing to try some of these out.
This was an awesome post. We seem to see eye to eye on how to appropriately handle negative thoughts and feelings. Drop by my page sometime.. I’d love your input 🙂 http://www.owlwise.us
Marina Hein says
Thank you, for posting this 🙂
The Zen Kat says
Thank you for writing this. Just what I needed on a Monday morning. 🙂
Wow, really nice! Sometimes it is easy to sit in our funk, but these are inspiring and encouraging ways of doing something about it, and some I’ve never thought of before.
I really love this post! I am 24 years old. I have a wonderful husband and we have a 20 month old little boy. I have always had issues with worrying too much but it seems like since I gave birth to my son that it has just gotten worse and worse. I have also put on quite a bit of weight in the past couple of years so I tend to worry about my health a lot more now…yes, I am a major worry wart. About a month ago, it was like my mind just went into complete overload and I’m pretty sure I had an anxiety attack and ever since, I have just felt like I’ve been stuck in a slump. I have days that I feel fine and then others I just feel very bleh…and not like myself. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one going through this…I’m just hoping that it’s only temporary and I can finally get back to feeling like myself all the time. I want to be the mother and wife that my son and my husband deserve! Thank you for posting these awesome tips!
Thanks for sharing!
I am a psychologist and these are some excellent ideas – some of the same things I work on with my clients. Great suggestions! Found this on pinterest. Keep up the great blog!
Evanston Psychologist says
Thanks so much for sharing these. Number three is a great tip, writing things down.
Rachel Ball (@grokgrub) says
Play! That’s my favorite one.
Katie | The Antidote Life says
This is a great post…thank you for sharing! This is such an important topic that I am glad you wrote about, it’s hard to get out of a funk sometimes, but we must always be moving forward. 🙂
I’m so happy I came across this post today. I know someone who absolutely needs to read this! Sharing.
Glad to hear that! Thanks for letting me know.
I love all of your tips! I think play is so important!
Yes, play is great! I need to find more ways to do it, too!
Raine Saunders says
Thank you for sharing this. I love the suggestions you’ve provided, and I agree with all of them! When I have these issues, sometimes I just need to be alone and have a good cry (as you mentioned). Also, I find that doing something different, even if I don’t feel I’m in the mood, helps tremendously. Diet and sleep, and sun exposure are really important, I’ve found. If I don’t have enough Vitamin D, I feel it. Thank you for sharing these helpful tips, Ariana. 🙂
So glad you found these helpful!
April (@theaprilnoelle) says
These are definitely good tips. I’ve worked to do all of these, because of my current funk. I need to move more though.
Great article, very good points you made, they are helpful and true, thank you : )
Master Psychic Rachel
Don’t Live Life In The Dark
Great, honest suggestions that are good reminders that it’s ok to accept your funk, but not dwell in it forever. I’m feeling a little frustrated myself, so perhaps writing it down and getting out will help! Thanks!
I hope you do find some of these helpful. Thanks for taking the time to comment!
Great post, with great advice. When I’m in a funk I feel that #7 followed by a good jaunt in the woods with my journal is all that I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and get going again. But diet, sleep and exercise are so, SO important with feeling well on the inside and on the out, so thank you for the reminder!
What a fantastic post! I especially resonate with #7… I often have it in my mind that I need to “be strong” and not do this, but I find that the true healing and moving on happens after my good cry.
Fantastic piece – thanks for sharing this.
I found this while doing a Google search. Thank you so much for posting this! I have high hopes that it will help me get out of my funk, which I’ve been in for several months (due to being laid off, an upcoming wedding, and finishing my Masters) with varying levels of severity. I am happy about getting married and finally finishing my Masters, but the stress of not working and not hearing back from applications is depressing. I have had brief moments where I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot about my funk, but then it just comes backs stronger than ever. I’m finding that it is causing so much demotivation, that I can’t concentrate or keep to a job search/workout/study schedule. I plan to use several of the techniques you mention to help get me back on track.
Listen to music that inspires you 😉 !
It is great to know that I am not alone. Stressed from trying to deal with business and taxes are so overwhelming it has put me in a very bad funk. But when I go outside and play catch with my 6 year old son it makes me forget for awhile and have fun. Thanks for sharing. Playing outdoors is very helpful.
Hey thanks for posting! I just started going to public school for the first time ever, it’s been 1 semester and it’s a lot of “all of a sudden stress”. Before, k-8, I was sit on the couch doing nothing. Now all of a sudden I’m out there, doing PE, FFA, running around with friends during lunch, doing stuff on days off. But, when I get like 3-4 day weekends… I get into a really bad funk. This time was worse than usual… I been had a friend come over and spend the night Saturday-Sunday. I am physically, mentally, and emotionally tired. I think a bath and maybe a walk or something is just what I need.
Thank you! Your post helped me just by being reminded us and downs are part of life, sometimes it scares me. Your ideas ate very helpful! Thanks!!!!!?
Love it, Ariana! So important to take inventory once in a while. Thank you for sharing!
Cindy smith says
This was very helpful been feeling numb for sometime not happy mostly sad but like I have flatlined can’t express true happiness or excitement when things are suppose to be happy.try things you suggested thank you
Valarie M Gaylord says
Great ideas! Thanks for sharing this post! I recently lost my mother at the hands of dementia and I’m just lost, treading water- barely, I have good days and then some non active days as well. I am learning to just be one with my thoughts and emotions and let them take over me but try to talk myself through them and pamper myself too….I’m a work in progress right now. You have given me some great ideas and I will be taking advantage…thank you!