My grandmother Muz always could tell if I was a little blue.
She’d say, “You’re kinda funky.”
That always made me laugh. And suddenly, my load was lighter.
Of course, she didn’t mean I could get down with James Brown or that I was movin’ to the groovin’. She just meant to observe that I was stuck in a negative place, or, what we call being “in a funk.”
I remembered Muz this week when I caught myself in my own funk. And I’m seeing signs of massive funk-i-ness in other places, too.
So let’s regroup. I’ve challenged myself to outsmart and outwork the funk, and here are the three somewhat unexpected tools I’ve been using. If you’re asking yourself how to get out of a funk, give these a try.
[Just to be clear, I’m no expert in discerning the difference between your own funky funk and full-out depression. If you or a loved one think what’s happening is more than just the blues, don’t hesitate—please get professional help. Your company may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides mental healthcare. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends this site as well as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). I also welcome any other recommended resources from readers of this blog–just email me here.]
How to Get Out of a Funk: 3 Unexpected Tools
1. Answer “What’s good with me right now?”
Imagine your life as a glass of clear drinking water.
And then you take an eyedropper of ink—just a teeny tiny amount—and plop it into the glass.
What happens to the glass?
The entire thing turns inky.
Not just in proportion water to ink. The ink colors all of it.
That’s what a funk can do to our overall attitude.
Unless we pour more clear water into the glass and make sure our good stuff is overflowing.
My strategy is to make a running list of what’s good with me right now. I keep it on the Notes app on my iPhone, but you could write it on card or anything that you can keep with you as a reminder.
Currently on my list:
- My overall health
- Amazing mom & sister
- Great, supportive friends
- Amazing, inspiring clients and readers (thank you!)
And that’s just the start.
(From a work perspective, I’ll often coach my clients to take a hard look at everything that IS working in their work—even when it feels like lots is broken. We often use a tool called “What’s Working in Your Work?” Like to have it? Click here to download your copy now. )
What’s on YOUR list?
2. Uncover the gift in the situation
When we’re in a funk, everything seems tainted. Tell me to look at the bright side, and I may smack you in yours.
But there’s a way to strategically look at our current situation and find something—just one, little, thing—that may be a gift. A present. A reward.
This isn’t a pollyanna “make lemons from lemonade” strategy. It’s literally looking at the reality of the situation rather than the interpretation of the situation.
A few examples to get your juices flowing:
- Between jobs? That may gift you the time to work out more, spend time with your family, volunteer, or to have more conversations with people in your profession or in another you’d like to learn about.
- Feeling underappreciated or undervalued at work? Your feelings are a gift to push you to have the conversations you need to have with your boss or others.
- Waiting for your house to sell before you can move somewhere else? It may give you time to research your future city and start to make connections there by phone and LinkedIn.
- Are you the only one left in the department? This gifts you power! Your organization can’t afford to lose you, so ask for more of what you want and need.
- Assigned to the most messed up project or team? You’re gifted the chance to show what you can do (and to set realistic expectations–after all, everyone already KNOWS it’s a mess, right?)
What’s that gift for you?
3. Choose one decision to make NOW.
We create a lot of tension in our lives when we procrastinate making decisions.
And when we’re in a funk, we don’t feel equipped to make decisions.
And when we don’t decide which step to take next, we remain in our funk.
Circle of strife.
So, one of my tools is to be sure I am making decisions every single day. To not stay stuck. To not procrastinate.
Today, the decision was as simple as “write an honest albeit imperfect blog post about how to get out of a funk.”
Tomorrow, who knows what decisions will need to be made. But I’ll suck it up and make them.
What decisions will you make that start to get you out of your funk?
Hey—want more help?
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