You ever been stuck in a solid funk…?
No, no. Not that kind of funk.
I’m talking about a mental funk that you just can’t seem to break out of. Low energy, lack of ambition, and just a general ‘blah’ feeling…
There you go.
Some refer to this as burnout or worse – a breakdown. Either way, it’s not good. Trust me, I’ve been there.
And if you don’t get your stress under control and your priorities straight quickly, things can get much worse before they get better.
But let’s not focus on the negative here. The funk doesn’t have to be self-feeding and forever ongoing… “No no no” (as my toddler says). You need to break out of that funk ASAP!
So if you feel the funk coming on – break this glass!! and use a few of these strategies to get back to your normal… And start living the life you deserve again!
1- Admit That You Are Struggling
It can be one of the hardest and most humbling things to do, but when you’re underwater and fighting for air – rising to the surface can be as easy as just admitting that all is not well. Just that symbolic action can be enough to “break free from the chains” of that anchor and swim to the surface (that’s Wilson Phillips if you didn’t get it already…)
This doesn’t have to be an overt conversation with friends or family, but simply an admission to yourself. And by symbolically raising your hand and admitting the issue, you’ve just taken step 1 toward improvement.
2- Ask For Help
Hey man – don’t be too proud. We’ve all had at least a few moments in life where all the tasks seemed insurmountable. With inputs from work, family, hobbies, kids, … if you’re not in peak mental condition, you may need to shuffle a few tasks off on someone else.
Nothing needs to be permanent here, but if you need some help to get things off of your to-do list and out of your head, there’s no shame in that.
Bonus points if you combine points 1 and 2… When I burnt out last year, I remember the conversation with my wife like it was yesterday. I told her I was struggling (she already knew…) and I asked her for help. Because she’s a saint – and she cares for my well being – she took pride in helping me dig out of the hole I had put myself in. And seeing the fire in her to help me only accelerated my improvement.
We’re an amazing species, us humans, and most of us glean joy from helping others. In this case, that’s a win-win.
3- Take A Day Off
There may be multiple contributors all working together to manufacture your funk, but there’s a better chance than not that work is one of the culprits. So – break the monotony and take a day off.
Even if it’s a single extra day in the middle of the week or a Friday to give you a long weekend, sometimes just the lack of getting ready for work in the morning can shock the system back into line.
My wife is currently off on Fridays with her work schedule. Because things have been so busy with us starting a business and growing our family, it’s been difficult to take some much needed time together. Me taking the occasional Friday off has helped catch 2 fish with 1 pole (I’m over the birds and stone cliche…).
4- Go For A Run
I literally just used this tactic before sitting down to write tonight. It’s been a long work week, the blog’s been keeping me busy, and we’ve had a few fires to put out at work…
Translation = the stress level’s been on the rise.
When I’ve been working in the red for too long, one of the best remedies is some good ‘ole fashioned exercise. Lately, I’ve been into workouts that don’t cost a dime, and running is way up on that list.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret: your workout doesn’t have to be the most intense thing you’ve ever done! I set out for a 3.5-mile run and had the highest intentions. About halfway through my leg started to tighten up (PSA – stretching is increasingly important as you age) and I had to turn around and walk home.
But I had already worked up a sweat and the walk did well to clear my head… Aim for the hole – land on the green (I’m breaking all the metaphors today; moon and stars here).
5- Dive Into Your Favorite Hobby
No, guys… Just watch the video:
Ska music (a form of reggae…). The definition (and unadulterated joy of skanking) is not the point here. I’m saying you need to identify what you enjoy doing and dive head-first into that activity.
I made a great friend in college that just loved to skank. He’d find ska bands that were touring in the area and literally didn’t miss a date if one came through town. And you know what? The dude was always charged up with positive energy after one of those dancing nights out.
If skanking (that’s 4 for those counting) isn’t your thing, think back to the last time you smiled a joyful smile. The last time you were truly happy. Then try and replicate that moment.
Let’s get our Zen on here for a minute. If meditation “isn’t your thing” as it wasn’t mine 12-months ago, it’d urge you to give it a shot.
I had heard of the benefits of meditation many times via Tim Ferriss’ podcast but I wrote it off as something that “wasn’t for me.” Honestly, I didn’t even know the mechanics of how to meditate. So I ignored the activity altogether.
But I’m so glad I eventually caved and gave meditation a shot. The repeated act helped me to reduce stress, find comfort in being present, and ultimately brought more joy back into life.
Here is a great article to help you get started. And another– focus on their Step 4. I chose 12 minutes daily because I haven’t yet found time for 15 and I’ve read that you need between 7-8 to actually change brain pathways.
7- Go on a Date / Ask a Friend to Coffee (1 Rule – No Phones)
I promise this post is not a daily journal of where I’ve been today, but my wife and I just literally went for an afternoon coffee… phoneless… And damnit, it was the highlight of my week.
No screaming 3-year-old, no text messages, emails, blog comments (thank you for those, btw…), or anything else stealing my attention and precious moments away from the most important thing in my life. My relationship with my wife.
We sat there for 2 hours that felt like a collective 15 minutes and it felt like we were in college again. The conversation went everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. The one constant: happiness.
8- Play Outside
There are plenty of studies out there identifying the healthy benefits of exposing your body to sunlight and the amazing vitamin D it provides, but this is neither a scientific paper nor a double-blind study. So let’s stick with practical applications, shall we?
No, just kidding… I’ll stick with the science. But I’m going to flank you with it.
According to this study of the Google Machine (the author analyzed searches for misery-related keywords), the peak “misery months” were Feb-March and Oct-Nov in 2017. The winter solstice (shortest day of the year) normally falls near the end of December for us northern hemisphere folks, which means we tend to get less time outdoors exposed to the sun’s wonderful rays. It’s not rock-solid but it’s a credible theory…
Doesn’t matter if there’s colder weather outdoors, cloud cover, or rain, just taking a few moments outside can help to soak up some of that vitamin D that helps us to reduce depression and ultimately feel better. (Go ahead, it’s cool… Just take your phone with you to finish the rest of the post)
9- Get to Sleep
Too often I get to Friday night feeling completely exhausted. This is normally because of the cumulative effect of a constant lack of sleep during my weekdays. If I’m not intentional with my bed-time, then the amount of sleep I get at night undoubtedly suffers.
And when I’m not well rested, I’m cranky, irritable, and a little ‘prickly’ according to my loved ones.
This isn’t the proudest thing I’ll ever write, but those Friday nights that I’m in be and asleep by 9:30 tend to yield the most upbeat and productive Saturdays… Make sleep a priority, it’s 100% worth it.
10- Don’t Sleep Too Much
I’ve also seen the negative effects of too much sleep. If I’m in bed by 9:30 on a Friday night, then hitting the snooze until 9:30 Saturday morning, I’m back to feeling in that bad funk the rest of the day.
One thing that’s worked well for me is setting the alarm clock at a constant time for weekends and weekdays alike. Once my body is used to getting up at a certain time, there’s no need to break back into early rising on Monday morning. And if I’m waking up at the same time every day, that 5:10 alarm clock doesn’t seem abnormally terrible on Monday. “Just another day at the office.” (Alright – I’ll bring the cliches back now…)
Thank you so much to Michael for renting me some of the digital space on his awesome blog! And in all seriousness, I hope some of these strategies can help you to feel better, do better, and live better going forward. Have a great day, all!
I’m Mike – current 30-ish CEO, Blogger, and Forensic Scientist. I write Financial insights for Family & Business, and Fitness tips for all! We’re growing our family-owned Business while I’m focusing on staying Fit and being a solid Family man… and writing about all the highs and lows on MikedUp Blog!