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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

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

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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

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Reference

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Cat Neligan

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

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

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Last Updated on September 16, 2021

Why Work Life Balance Doesn’t Exist (And How to Stay Sane)

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Why Work Life Balance Doesn’t Exist (And How to Stay Sane)

If you’ve ever felt like work-life balance isn’t really possible, you may be right.

Actually, I think work-life balance doesn’t exist. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a rising star in the corporate world, work is always going to overflow from your 9 to 5 into your personal life. And if you have ambitions of becoming successful in just about any capacity, you’re going to have to make sacrifices.

Which is why, instead of striving for the unrealistic goal of “work-life balance,” I use a combination of rituals, tools, and coping mechanisms that allows me to thrive on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, moments still arise when I may feel overloaded with work and a bit out of balance, but with these daily rituals in place, I am able to feel grounded instead of feeling like I’m losing my mind.

Here are five daily practices I use to stay focused and balanced despite a jam-packed work schedule:

1. Pause (Frequently!) to Remember That You Chose This Path

Regardless of which path you take in life, it’s important to remind yourself that you are the one who chose the path you’re on.

For example, one of the joys of being an entrepreneur is that you experience a significant amount of freedom. Unfortunately, in moments of stress, it’s easy to forget that choice goes both ways: you chose to go your own way, and you chose the obstacles that come with that journey.

Remember: tomorrow, you could choose to leave your job, shut down your company, and go move to a farm in the middle of nowhere. The choice is yours.

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Whenever I catch myself thinking, “Why am I doing this?” I simply remember, “Oh, wait. I chose this.” And if I want to, I can choose another option. But at this moment, I own it because I chose it.

That simple mental shift can help me move from feeling out of control to in control. It’s empowering.

2. Use ‘Rocks’ to Prioritize Your Tasks

Sometimes having a to-do list is more overwhelming than it is helpful.

The daily tasks of anyone in a high-stakes, high-responsibility role are never-ending. Literally. No matter how many items you check off your list, each day adds just as many new ones, and even after a full day it can often feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.

So instead, I use “rocks”—a strategy I learned from performance coach Bill Nelson.

Say you have a glass container and a variety of rocks, divided into groups of large, mid-sized, and small rocks, and then some sand. If you put the small rocks in first, you’re not going to be able to fit everything in your container. But if you put the big rocks in first, then the mid-sized, and, finally, the small, they’ll all fit. And at the end, the sand fills the extra space.

The point of this strategy is to designate a handful of your biggest priorities for the week—let’s say five tasks—as the things you absolutely have to get done that week. Write them down somewhere.

Then, even if you accomplish nothing else but those five things, you’re going to feel better, since you completed the important tasks. You’ve made progress!

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Identifying your “rocks” is a better way of tracking progress and ensuring that you focus on the most critical things. You can create rocks on a weekly or even daily basis.

Some days, when I’m feeling the most frenzied, I say to myself, “You know what? Let’s boil it down. If I accomplish nothing else today and I just do these three things, it will be a good day.”

3. The PEW12 Method

Of all the daily practices I follow, Purge Emotional Writing (PEW12), which I learned from Dr. Habib Sadeghi, is my favorite.[1]

Here’s how it works:

Pick a topic, set a timer for 12 minutes, and just write.

You may be dealing with a specific issue you need to vent about, or you may be free-writing as emotions surface. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing or what your handwriting looks like, because you’re never going to re-read it.

At the end, burn the pages.

As the paper burns, you will feel all of those emotions you’ve just poured out either being reduced or dissipating completely. Both the writing process—which is literally unloading all of your unnecessary stuff—and the burning of the pages feel incredibly cathartic.

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And you can do PEW12 as frequently or infrequently as you feel you need it—once, twice, or multiple times a day.  

The reason I find this exercise so helpful is because, sometimes, I get in my head about a difficult issue or troubling interaction with someone, even when I know there is nothing to be done about it.

But as soon as I do my PEW12, I feel a sense of relief. I have more clarity. And I stop circling and circling the issue in my head. It makes things feel resolved. Just try it.

4. Set Sacred Time (Like a 20-Minute Walk or Evening Bath)

Outside of work, you have to try to protect some time for restoration and quiet. I call this sacred time.

For example, every single night I take a bath. This is a chance to literally wash off the day and any of the energy from the people, interactions, or experiences that I don’t want to take to bed with me.

I actually remodeled a bathroom in my house solely for this purpose. The bath ritual—which includes Himalayan bath salts, essential oils, and a five-minute meditation—is the ultimate “me time” and allows me to go to bed feeling peaceful and relaxed.

And while sacred time to end the day is crucial, I like to start the day with these types of practices, too.

In the mornings, I take my dog Bernard for a walk—and I use those 20 minutes to set my intention for the day. I don’t take my phone with me. I don’t think about the endless to-do list. I just enjoy listening to the birds and breathing in the sunshine, while Bernard stops to say hi to the neighbors and their dogs.

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These might seem like ordinary daily activities, but it’s the commitment to doing them day after day that makes all the difference.

5. Forgive Yourself When You Fail to Use the Tools

Sometimes our intention to follow “daily” practices falls flat. When this happens to me, I try not to beat myself up about it. After all, these things are tools to make me feel good. If they just become another chore, what is the point?

At the end of the day, my daily practices don’t belong in my jar of rocks or on my to-do list or in my daily planner. They are there to serve me.

If, for some reason, life happens and I can’t do my practices, I won’t feel as good. It’s possible I won’t sleep as well that night, or I’ll feel a little guilty that I didn’t walk Bernard.

But that’s okay. It’s also a good practice to acknowledge my limits and let go of the need to do everything all the time.

The Bottom Line

For most people, accepting that work-life balance simply isn’t possible is the first step to feeling more grounded and in control of your life.

Don’t waste your energy trying to achieve something that doesn’t exist. Instead, focus on how you’re feeling when things are out of balance and find a way to address those feelings.

You’ll have a toolkit for feeling better when life feels crazy, and, on the off chance things feel calm and happy, your rituals will make you feel absolutely amazing!

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Featured photo credit: Dries De Schepper via unsplash.com

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