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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Get out of a Funk and Take Control of Life

How to Get out of a Funk and Take Control of Life

Part of the human condition seems to require us to get in a funk from time to time. We find ourselves in a state of uncertainty, confusion, overwhelm, apathy… whatever the flavor your funk personally takes, it isn’t pleasant.

These periods can last for days, weeks, months, and even years. They come unannounced. Sometimes we can rationalize our misaligned mood with external events, other times we can’t make sense of it. It simply is.

Whilst this guide isn’t promising a quick-fix solution to a state like this, it does aim to provide you with a beacon of hope: some tools and strategies you can implement starting today, that can support you and ultimately help you to get out of a funk and take control of life again.

Let’s take a look at how to get out of a funk and take control of life:

1. Acknowledge It

Before even attempting to dive in with any of these suggestions, it’s well worth taking the time to acknowledge the funk you’re in. This step alone will help create distance, as you give the funk some airtime and remember that it does not define you. It’s just a passing state.

Give yourself the space to feel into it. You might give it through words, music or art. You might play a song that captures your mood. Whatever you do, acknowledge that this is a temporary state of being, it too shall pass, and you are certainly not alone in this experience.

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2. Define the Problem

In some cases, the actual problem or reason for our funk is clear: we’ve split up from our partner, lost our job, been let down in some way. In other cases, there doesn’t appear to be a real reason for our malaise. On paper, everything is just fine… isn’t it?

It’s well worth questioning how ‘fine’ things really are, and remembering that just because you haven’t lost a limb, doesn’t mean you have to accept your circumstances with a cheery smile. Everyone’s experience is relative to them, and no one needs to justify the funk they’re in.

Instead, you can use what feels like a negative experience as a signal pointing you to something that fundamentally needs your attention. Maybe your job seems fine on paper, but those snarky comments from a co-worker are taking their toll on you. Maybe the lack of appreciation your family is showing you has gone on for too long now.

Spend some quiet time reflecting on the possible problems causing your funk, and make sure to write them down or record your thoughts in some way. This will make them easier to grapple with, and ultimately take you one step further towards making a change that could turn your whole situation around.

3. Meditate

As much as the internet may try to tell you ‘meditation is for everyone’, I personally won’t claim that to be the case. However, I do think it’s worth trying – at least once.

It also might seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re in a funk: it might feel far easier to numb out and binge watch your favourite TV series.

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The reason meditation is so effective for getting through these times is to remind ourselves of one thing:

We are not our thoughts.

If it’s our thoughts that are causing our funk, then knowing this to be true can be a huge relief.

Rather than setting the bar too high, I encourage you to set a timer for just five minutes. Sit in a comfortable position, with your spine relatively aligned and your shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you. Begin to connect with your breath: possibly noting silently to yourself ‘in’ on the inhale, and ‘out’ on the exhale. When your mind wanders, as it will, do your best not to berate yourself for it and bring your attention gently back to your breath.

Even though you might not come out of your reverie feeling problem-free, it is a practice which, over time, can help deal with any storm in the sea of the mind.

4. Move Your Body

Whilst the root of our issues may be in our mind, it’s worth not forgetting the body. Endorphins are produced through exercise, and help us cope with stress and even relieve pain.[1]

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Going for a run is a way that some people get out of funks, but if running isn’t for you, brisk walking or other physical disciplines can all help your body to create those happy hormones.

If you think you’re too busy for exercises, here’re 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

5. Connect with a Loved One

It can be tempting to isolate yourself when under the influence of a funk, but this is the last thing we need.

In connecting with others, we get to share the burden we’re struggling under. Having another person simply to listen, or distract us from any external problems, can be enough to bring us out of a funk.

When you notice you’re in a bad mood, think of someone who makes you laugh or simply feel safe. Whatever you do, try not to isolate yourself at this time.

6. Write a Gratitude List

At first, you may struggle to think of something to be grateful for, and your mood may even take an initial nose dive at the first attempt of this task. However, this is the exact inner environment that the gratitude list thrives on, if you give it a chance.

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It’s an exercise that encourages you to seek out the parts of your life that don’t suck. At first, it might be as mundane as ‘a working washing machine’ or ‘the sound of rain.’ Like with all of these practices, the more we return to them, the stronger the effect in the long run.

A regular gratitude practice, for example at the beginning or end of each day, can actually train the mind to spot more instances of positive aspects in our lives. Not only can this be a great pick-me-up if we’re in the depths of a funk, but it can also help combat future slumps we may have found ourselves in otherwise.

If you need some inspirations for your gratitude list, here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes it feels like time is zooming by, leaving us behind. But you’re capable to get yourself out of a funk!

By acknowledging your emotions and problems, and actively taking actions to change up your thoughts, you will take control of your life again.

More Tips for Motivation

Featured photo credit: Luis Flores via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Cat Neligan

Host of the Creative Introvert Podcast, helping introverts everywhere live a life they love on their terms

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps How to Get out of a Funk and Take Control of Life How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

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Published on March 3, 2021

How To Relax Quickly When You Are Addicted To Work

How To Relax Quickly When You Are Addicted To Work

You’ve finally reached the end of your workday—a day that started with you skimming hours from sleep to get a jump-start on your to-do list. It continued with you eating lunch at your desk to avoid losing momentum, ignoring calls from family and friends to fend off feelings of guilt about not working, and adding new projects to your plate after finishing up others. You’ve managed to reject anything that resembles a break so you can stay firmly focused on your work performance and success. Now, you’re exhausted. And, let’s be honest: you’re also addicted to working.

There’s some part of you that knows this and understands the urgency with which you need to conjure personal courage to confront the unhealthy, underlying causes of your obsessive work style. But, for now, the only mental energy you can muster is the bit that’s required to figure out how to relax quickly so you can do it all over again tomorrow.

Here are 5 temporary solutions to try out to ease the tension of mental exhaustion from being addicted to work until you’re ready to put in the courageous effort to change your approach to work.

1. Take a Walk Around the Block

Once you close your computer and step away from your desk, kick on your walking shoes and head outside. Walking has long been identified as a way to relax the mind and the body. In fact, research has shown that a brisk walk can relieve stress and tension similar to how aspirin relieves a headache.[1]

The reason for this has to do with how this low-impact exercise triggers the release of endorphins or brain chemicals that stimulate relaxation.[2] If your work addiction has left you with limited time, you’re in luck. A walk as short as 10 minutes can provide the stress-relieving benefits you need to reset your mind.

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If work has depleted you’re energy to the point where a vigorous walk seems like more trouble than it’s worth, you can try a slower-paced walking meditation to help you unwind. Mindful walking is practiced within many forms of Buddhism and focuses on walking with reverence. This means that each step is taken with intentional breathing, whole-body awareness, and deep gratitude. Mindful walking is meant to bring your body and mind together peacefully and can help you relax in as little as 10 minutes.

If you’d rather unwind with a little less movement, give a weighted blanket a try.

2. Crawl Up Under a Weighted Blanket

For many people, taking a nap is an ideal antidote for restoring the body and brain after many hours of work. If you are addicted to work, however, you may not be able to easily disconnect from unfinished projects and allow yourself to drift off to sleep.

A weighted blanket may be able to help. This type of blanket ranges from 5 to 30 pounds and is designed to help you feel snug and secure like a comforting hug. In theory, the blanket provides “pressure therapy,” which helps to settle your nervous system and lower your heart rate when you are stressed.[3] Pressure therapy can increase the amount of serotonin and oxytocin released in the brain, which can lead to a sense of calm.

Some experts recommend staying under a weighted blanket for 20-30 minutes. However, the duration is up to you depending upon how much comfort and relaxation you feel. Once you’ve snuggled underneath a weighted blanket, you may find your way to sleep in no time.

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However, if a weighted blanket alone doesn’t seem to be doing the trick to help you relax quickly, you may want to add music to the mix.

3. Turn on Otis Redding

Music is often a go-to resource to stimulate good vibes. If you’re addicted to work and looking for a way to release the built-up tension generated from your intense focus on productivity, power up your favorite music streaming service and turn on some soothing sounds. Research shows that “music around 60 beats per minute can cause your brain to synchronize with the beat” and create alpha brainwaves.[4] These are the helpful brainwaves that appear when you are relaxed.

You might be wondering what type of music comes in at 60 beats per minute. Think Otis Redding. Spotify features a playlist called “60 bpm” that includes several of Redding’s songs like “My Girl” and “These Arms of Mine.” If you’re not a fan of old-school jams, you’ll find other artists and songs on the list as well. You can also do your own research to create a custom playlist that’s immediately ready when you need it the most.

When choosing relaxing music to listen to, keep in mind that you don’t want to simply turn to a tune because science says so. Listening to music that doesn’t appeal to you might have the opposite calming effect that you’re going for.

4. Say Cheese

Smiling is easy, quick, and loaded with relaxation benefits. All it takes is getting past the awkwardness of sitting down or walking around with a grin on your face for no reason other than to unwind. Research shows that an act as simple as smiling can be effective in reducing the intensity of the body’s stress response and lowering heart rate levels after stressful activities.[5] And all of this can happen regardless of whether you actually feel happy.

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When you smile, your brain releases dopamine and endorphins, which are chemical messengers that help to lighten your mood. This makes smiling a sneaky—yet effective—way to trick your brain into helping you feel good.

As a bonus, research shows that smiling can help you look more attractive. In a study conducted at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, participants found men and women who made eye contact and smiled to be more good-looking than those who did not.[6]

If you really want to take your relaxation up a notch, try smiling while lying on the floor.

5. Lie on the Floor

If being addicted to work has left you in a severe state of exhaustion that the only thing you can think to do is lay flat on the floor, you’re closer to relaxation than you may realize. The Alexander Technique, named after a Shakespearean actor, offers up a specific way to lie on the floor so that you release tension in your muscles.[7]

The technique, also known as Constructive Rest, involves turning on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. In addition to helping you relax, the specific position supports spinal alignment.[8] Be sure not to get too cozy, though. Lying on the floor for an extended period of time could lead to soreness and stiffness. You only need to hold the Alexander Technique for a few minutes to feel a sense of ease, and practicing each day can lead to longer-lasting results.

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The Bottom Line

Being addicted to work can bring on an unbearable amount of tension and unease that leaves you with an urgent desire to find relief. But until you can conjure the courage to transform your approach to work and success, that relief is destined to be temporary. There are several methods, backed by science, that can help bring about a brief sense of relaxation.

Walking has been proven to release neurochemicals that are responsible for easing stress. Positioning yourself under a weighted blanket has been thought to provide pressure therapy, which helps settles your nervous system.

On top of that, listening to music at a specific rhythm can cause your brain to create alpha waves—the waves that are generated when you are relaxed. You may also try lying on the floor. The right horizontal position can help you release the built-up tension that comes from working overtime. The simplest and quickest way, though, for those addicted to work to bring about a sense of calmness is by cracking a smile. Smiling has been shown to reduce the body’s stress response.

Now, if you’re an overachiever in figuring out how to relax, just a much as you are an overachiever at working, consider walking around the block, returning home, turning on smooth sounds, lying on the floor with a weighted pull on top of you, closing your eyes, and smiling concurrently.

More Tips on Leading a Balanced Life

Featured photo credit: XPS via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Anxiety & Depression Association of America: Exercise for Stress and Anxiety
[2] Prevention: How To Walk To Relieve Your Stress
[3] Harvard Health Publishing: Anxiety and stress weighing heavily at night? A new blanket might help
[4] University of Nevada, Reno: Releasing stress through the power of music
[5] Association for Psychological Science: Grin and Bear It! Smiling Facilitates Stress Recovery
[6] Psychology Today: There’s Magic in Your Smile
[7] Harvard Health Publishing: The Alexander Technique can help you (literally) unwind
[8] BodyIntelligence: Stress Reliever: The Alexander Technique Practice of Lying Down

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