On Monday of last week, I woke up in a bad mood. I just felt bleh (you know the feeling). Maybe the stress of the current state of the world was getting to me (thanks a lot, headlines!), or maybe loosing my daily routine was a hard thing to shake (because, duh!) but I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that lasted a lot longer than just one day. I was in a funk (you’re probably saying, “join the club!” right about now).
No, this is not the good kind of “funk” that’s in the title of a catchy AF Bruno Mars song or the word your dad uses when he tries to be cool. No, this is the kind of funk that feels like burnout, boredom, anxiousness, self-consciousness, purposelessness, disconnection, or sadness. It’s something we’ve all probably experienced in one way or another.
But here’s the good news: happiness (or unfunkness, as I like to call it) is not a circumstance or a reaction to the environment; it’s a skill. A bad day (or week, or month) is only bad if you decide to stay in that state of mind. Here’s how I got out of my funk, and how you can too. (Note: long-lasting negative moods might be more serious. Please talk to your medical doctor if negative emotions persist or are affecting your appetite, sleep, or relationships).
1. Envision your happy place
It sounds cliché, but the old-school advice to “envision your happy place” could be very helpful. Is there a certain place that brings you warm fuzzy feelings? Maybe it’s the beach vacation to that same island you take every couple of years or reading books on your mom’s screened-in porch. Closing your eyes and envisioning yourself in this happy place could help, but you can also try to recreate this “place” as best as you can from the comfort of your own home. Maybe you go outside for a little bit to read a book or put on the playlist that reminds you of your tropical vacay. Envisioning a memory that you associate with happiness can have a calming effect on your current state.
2. Try some yoga or breath work
Anything that takes you out of your head and back into your body can help with feeling out of control. Moving your body, in general, can help (exercise is so good for a mood boost!), but movement that focuses on breathing helps center you. Try practicing yoga when you’re feeling stressed, and focus on taking deep breaths with each movement (think “inhale” and “exhale” to stay focused). Breathwork (or breathing exercises) is another powerful tool to destress that you can do anytime.
3. Create your own “de-funk” playlist
Sometimes all it takes to get out of a funky mood is a funky (the good kind) playlist. For me, it’s my “Caffeine” playlist; for Social Media Editor Abigail, it’s her “Anti-Anxiety League” playlist; and for a killer playlist that we all love, “The Everygirl Listens: Dance Party!” totally slaps (I hear that’s a thing the cool kids are saying). The goal of a de-funking playlist is to combine all of the songs that remind you of happy memories and make you want to dance. Turn on the playlist when you feel a funk coming on (the good or the bad kind), and dance around the living room, knowing life isn’t meant to be taken so seriously.
4. Welcome (certain) distractions
If you’re feeling bummed out, stressed, anxious, or just plain bored, it’s important to be mindful of these negative emotions and identify the “why” behind them. However, distractions can be a good thing because they can help you feel more positively about the situation you’re in, rather than harping on negative feelings.
“Distractions” should not mean bingeing Netflix all night or scrolling through Instagram for hours, because you’ll still feel the same feelings once the binging and scrolling is over. Instead, distract yourself with the things that light you up. Read a good book that makes you think, learn something you’ve always wanted to learn (try Skillshare or even Youtube for online classes), or watch a movie that makes you LOL. Also, consider replacing all the bad headlines and scary news for good news, like @goodnews_movement or “Some Good News with John Krasinski” (bonus: you get some eye candy with that one too).
5. Use online resources
Many great meditation teachers, psychologists, and wellness experts offer online services (many for free). Consider researching professionals that can help you feel your best, and the online resources they offer. One of my favorite people I look to when I’m in a funk is New York Times bestselling author, Gabby Bernstein, who offers free workshops and spreads spiritual wisdom through her books, public talks, and her Instagram. If you’re looking for real, tangible ways to feel better, consider taking our 6-Week Self-Care Challenge (it’s so good for getting out of a funk, I just had to #shamelessplug).
6. Make someone else’s day
The advice that giving to other people helps you is cliché because it’s true. Send your grandma a care package, thank the healthcare workers that you know, send your work wife a compliment, donate money to a local charity that’s in need, Venmo $20 to a friend for lunch on you, or check in on your aunt to see how she’s doing. Thinking of both big and small ways you can make other people smile is perhaps the quickest way to make yourself smile, too.
7. Be creative
Being in a funk might mean you have excess energy that you don’t know what to do with, so channel that energy into creating something. Whether or not you consider yourself a creative person, we all have the ability to “create” something, and creativity can be a meditation that helps boost mood. Whether it’s journaling, cooking, dancing, playing guitar, sketching, or scrapbooking, try to schedule time in your day to let your creative energies flow.
However, it’s important to not put pressure on what you’re creating. If you’re dealing with perfectionism, pull back and do the opposite. For example, if you love to paint but are bummed that your fruit bowl doesn’t look realistic, make an abstract piece of work that doesn’t have to look like anything. It will give you perspective and remind you that you’re creating to get yourself out of funk, not put you back in one with feelings of inadequacy or perfectionism.
8. Connect with friends and family
Even if you can’t be together in person, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the benefits of connecting with the people you love. Text friends daily to see how they’re doing, FaceTime or use apps like Houseparty to check in with family members and keep up with your social schedule routine (like happy hours or coffee dates with your friends–virtual, of course).
If you believe venting to your sister or mom will help you feel better, then go ahead and vent. However, consider using social connections to make you happier. Have a laugh with your BFF, watch a rom-com with your college friends using Netflix Party, or check in on loved ones and hear how they’re doing instead of spending the time talking about yourself.
9. Be OK with feeling “OK”
Grieving periods don’t just feel bad because of the loss; they feel bad because we’re uncomfortable with negative emotions. Our brains have been wired to believe that we’re not supposed to feel bad, instead of knowing it’s OK to not feel our best sometimes. Any major change in your life (or in the world) can bring up feelings of mourning.
It’s OK to mourn, whether it’s grieving the trip, wedding, or major event you were looking forward to, or just mourning the daily routine you were used to having, like happy hour with your friends, working at the office, or going to the gym. Know that negative feelings, while uncomfortable, are also human. Let yourself grieve, rest, and recover as much as you need, and then pick yourself up and choose to be happy.
10. Focus on yourself
If you’re in a funk because you feel stuck in shitty circumstances, stop focusing on outside circumstances, and start focusing inward. Maybe that feels selfish when so much is going on, but if you focus on yourself, you’ll feel stronger so you can help others and happier so you can spread cheer. Perhaps the most selfless thing of all is to focus on yourself (think about it).
Tune in to what you truly need. Do you need to rest and recover to feel better, or do you need to feel accomplished and reorganize your closet? Do you need nourishing whole grains and fresh vegetables to feel your best, or do you need a comforting meal that makes you feel like you’re a kid again? Make your happiness the number one priority, and make every decision based on the level of joy it will bring you. You’ll be out of that funk in no time.