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Have you ever just woken up in the morning and felt completely "blah" for no apparent reason? I think we all have! The trick is to ditch that feeling as quickly as possible before it takes hold and pollutes the entire day!
Although I maintain a pretty ordered routine to keep my mindset strong and my energy elevated, there are days when I wake up and I’m just, for want of a better phrase, in a ‘“funk”. It happened very recently and I suspect it was related to the upcoming change in season. My kids had just re-started school and we were all leaving the lightness of summer behind us, looking forward and into the more structured routine of term time.
Although I must confess to feeling a certain relief when the school vacation finally ends and I am no longer entertainer in chief to three energetic and demanding children, it is still bittersweet. They’re growing up. There will only be so many long lazy summer days with them before they leave for college and lives filled with adventures far from home.
These were the unacknowledged feelings that swirled around one morning when I just couldn’t seem to catch my rhythm. I had dropped off all three children for what was their third day back at school, I had the house to myself, no distractions, nobody asking “Mom do you know where my...is?” Bliss - right? Two hours later I’m still faffing around not quite committing to any single project and with a low-level feeling of dis-ease. Ugh! I was definitely in a funk and needed an exit strategy, quick!
So, instead of wasting anymore time, instead of letting this mood just engulf the whole day, I took action. I took these 5 steps which are my top 5 tips for getting out a funk!
- MORNING PAGES
I’ve written about this before in an earlier blog post. It’s a practice that’s highly effective for clearing your brain of any unresolved or unacknowledged issues that may be distracting you and impacting your focus. All you need is a pen and paper. This is best done first thing in the morning - hence the name “Morning” Pages but I find it works wonders at any time when you are finding it difficult to focus or you just need to get out of a funk.
Sit down somewhere with minimal distractions and, on a clean piece of paper, just start writing. There’s no thinking or editing. This is not about beautifully or eloquently formed thoughts. This is a brain dump. You’re ejecting whatever is in your head - half-formed thoughts, worries, wishes - that are all ruminating around inside. You free write without pre-judgement. Once you begin just let whatever needs to come out, come out. There’s no need to pause or reflect. When you feel that you have released whatever needs to get out on paper, you will naturally slow down and then stop writing. Just put the pen down.
Next, put away the papers. Don’t re-read what you’ve written. It isn’t important. This wasn’t a planning session where the objective was to capture your thoughts and ideas on paper. This was more of an emotional sanitation exercise. You were doing a little clear out to create a more hospitable mental environment for planning, positive energy, and creative thoughts.
I always feel a little less discombobulated after I do this, a little more anchored.
- GET OUTSIDE
Is ‘sick building syndrome’ still a thing? I don’t know, but I do know that being indoors for too long makes me restless. If you’re in a funk, you need a change of scene and some fresh air. If you’ve got a dog, great! Take her for a walk. If not, just pull on your most comfortable pair of shoes and step outside your front door and start walking.
I find that 45 minutes is the sweet spot for me and I like to walk fast but just do whatever pace, distance and time feels right for you. Try not to take a familiar route. Novelty in terrain and views is good for the brain. It makes it less likely that you’ll just get lost in thoughts rather than appreciating where you are.
Experiment with making the walk a meditative practice. Bring your attention to how your body feels as you walk. Be conscious of your stride, its length, how your foot strikes the ground, how you roll through the ball of your foot. Notice the air around you. Is there a breeze? Is it warm? Are you enjoying the warmth of the sun on your face or feeling refreshed by a light rain? Drink it all in and look to embrace and appreciate the small details. This is you, your strong, healthy body, moving through this physical space, enjoying these sights, sounds and sensations on this one precious day.
It’s the simplest and easiest of things to do and, if you are purposeful about it, and bring your full consciousness and awareness to it, you can return from a thirty or forty minute walk feeling a genuine sense of renewal. I always return feeling calmer, more centered, and with an elevated mood.
Don’t underestimate the power of this simple step.
- MAKE SOME NOISE
Sometimes getting outside for a walk just isn’t possible for a variety of reasons. It’s still possible to shake things up a bit indoors though. Dance! Yep, jumping around in an utterly uncoordinated, “oh my God if anyone saw me I’d be mortified” style dancing is what we’re talking about here. You’ll need some high vibe music for this one and you’ve got to crank up the volume. There’s always earphones if your home environment prevents you from playing this through speakers.
I actually have my own playlist for this. I went to a Tony Robbins event last year which inspired me to put together my own playlist for whenever I needed a lift. If you’ve ever been to one of these events, or seen footage of them, you’ll understand. Tony and his dance crew have you on your feet for hours throughout the event in order to keep the physical and emotional energy high. And it works!
The way you carry yourself and the way you feel changes once you start moving. Expending energy jumping around and dancing actually energizes you. It creates changes on a physiological level and your mood lifts.
So here’s my “Mood Elevators” Playlist from Spotify which you can use if you like but a few minutes is all it takes to put together a few songs that suit you. Anything that will get you up and moving and jumping and even shrieking along off key as you let your limbs flail around rhythmically, or not so much, is all that’s needed. Dance like no-one’s watching - because they aren’t!
It’s fun! It shakes out the cobwebs and does wonders when you need to get out of a funk!
- ONE SELFLESS ACT
I swear by this next step. It’s seems completely counterintuitive but it totally, 100%, works. Remove the focus from yourself to someone else. What can you do for someone else that would make their day a little better? It can be an act of charity towards a stranger or a kind gesture for an acquaintance or friend.
When you’re focused on someone else’s well-being and happiness, not only do you distract yourself from any preoccupation with yourself, it also has a soothing effect on you. One thing I really like to do is write a card to a friend or family member telling them I’m thinking of them and how much they mean to me. It’s so nice to get a message out of the blue when it’s not a special occasion - and not just when Facebook has told all your ‘friends’ it’s your birthday!
It’s great to send a text or an email too but I like making the effort of a handwritten card sent ‘snail mail’. I don’t know about you, but for me receiving a handwritten card really means so much more than an electronic communication. It takes more effort on the part of the sender and so it feels that much more special to receive. I always have a mix of fun and thoughtful greeting cards in my desk and whenever I write one and drop it in the postbox it gives me a great feeling knowing that a little unexpected surprise is on its way to someone.
Your selfless act can be anything as long as it’s in service to another and done with an open heart. Experiment! Why not buy extra pairs of socks and water bottles next time you’re in the store, and give them to any homeless people you pass. Offer to go to the store for an elderly neighbor. The options are endless!
- ONE EASY WIN
This final step is the icing on the cake when it comes to getting out of a funk. Now that you’ve worked your way through steps 1 to 4, it’s time to get a concrete achievement under your belt. We’re looking for some low hanging fruit!
Whatever project you’re working on can always be broken down into different tasks and steps. Some will obviously be more challenging than others. When you’ve started your day in a funk and have worked to shake that off, you want to look for an easy win to maintain momentum and propel you forward. So, I like to choose a project task that I can accomplish fairly quickly and that will give me a sense of satisfaction and a feeling that I’m really on track for a productive day. It’s got to be a task that’s meaty enough to be of consequence so it will give me that sense of achievement and forward motion, but not so challenging that I risk getting bogged down with it.
The objective is to give my brain the emotional reward of success that will launch me full throttle into the rest of the day’s responsibilities and challenges. So whatever your project, make a choice and knock out that first easy win as soon as you can.
That's it! It's too easy to let that initial low mood steal your whole day from you so remember, whenever you feel in a bit of a funk - that your day is in danger of spiraling downward - use these 5 Steps as a reset button to bring your smile back and to get you back on track to win the day!
In loving sisterhood
- What do you do to get yourself out of a funk?
- What's your top tip for lifting your mood when you feel a little blue?
- Please share any thoughts or comments below!
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Eimear Zone is an entrepreneur and founder of feminist brand and social enterprise, PEBBLE + ROSE. She writes on feminism, entrepreneurship, and mindset management. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and IG @emtczone