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Blog Short #175: 10 Things You Can Do to Get Out of a Funk

Photo by Prostock-Studio, Courtesy of iStock Photo

Some days, you wake up and automatically know you’re in a funk. You know it before you open your eyes. You roll out of bed slowly, sit up, and sigh. It’s not going to be a good day.

Even after a huge cup of coffee, a hot shower, and a bite to eat, you still aren’t feeling it. Sigh . . . 😳

What to do?

This kind of mood is different than simply having the blahs. It’s got a very negative tinge to it. It’s not neutral. And, it’s uncomfortable and very persistent. You try to think your way out of it, but that doesn’t help. You just become more frustrated.

The good news is that you can do some things to help shift your mood.

1. Check your negative consumption for the day.

The first thing to do is reduce negative static that will only worsen your mood. For today, avoid watching the news, stay away from negative gossip or conversations at work, avoid chronic complainers, and put your negative thoughts away.

If you can’t do that last one successfully, allow yourself 15 minutes (no more than 30) to write down all your complaints and worries, then put them out of sight. Let go of them for the time being. You can return to them when you feel more positive and have the energy to tackle them.

2. Write a gratitude list.

In contrast to your complaint list, write at least three things you’re grateful for, and more if you can.

The more you turn your mind toward noticing what’s going right, the more things you’ll come up with. Doing this balances out your natural negativity bias, which we all have to some degree.

It’s not that you should ignore things that are going wrong, but you have to give at least equal time (if not more) to things that are going right, and by doing that, you’ll feel better. Not to mention, your overall perceptions will be closer to reality.

If you like this exercise, do it every day. Doing it first thing in the morning is best because it sets the tone for the rest of your day.

3. Tackle something you’ve been avoiding.

You know that thing (or things) that have been sitting on the edge of your mind, intruding on your peace and beckoning to be heard? That thing you’ve been putting off doing?

Do it, or at least do one if you have a list of them. Choose one you can complete today without much energy output and get it over with. Then rejoice that you finally got it done! If it’s on a list, cross it off with relish! That will help your mood immensely.

4. Do something for someone else.

Anything and everything counts. Smiling at people you encounter during the day counts. Acts of kindness, listening, and empathizing count. Doing some small thing to help counts. If you’re a parent, all those things you do in a day for your kids count or for your partner.

You likely don’t notice how many things you do or give yourself any credit for them. But they’re all important, and all make someone else’s way easier. They’re of value, as are you.

5. Breathe

At least three times today, do one round of square breathing.

Exhale slowly and fully to a count of four through your mouth. Inhale to a count of four through your nose. Hold it for a count of four, then exhale again through your mouth to a count of four.

Do it several times if you can.

An alternative is to sit quietly and watch your breath for five minutes (or more if you can). Don’t control your breathing; just watch your breath go in and out. When you notice that you’ve gone off into a thought train, qently bring your attention back to your breath without strain.

Both of these exercises will help you reset. These exercises are particularly effective when you find yourself ruminating or overthinking.

6. Watch your self-talk.

What are the stories or narratives you’re telling yourself today?

Types of narratives that will bring down your mood include:

  1. Negative characterizations of yourself. Outlining your faults, deficiencies, and inadequacies. Reviewing your failures with heavy censure. In short, telling yourself all the ways you’re unworthy.
  2. Reviewing all the things that are going wrong and feel impossible to correct. Likely, you’re inflating and exaggerating these situations.
  3. Listing all the things you can’t change, including people with whom you have close relationships.

Self-talk has significant power to influence your mood and impact your incentive (or lack thereof) to take actions that will improve your life.

Make self-talk your friend and partner. It should encourage, support, open channels for creative thinking, energize, and move you forward. It’s your life coach!

To make that happen, be mindful of the negative thought loops you engage in repetitively. When you notice one, stop, reset, and correct the distorted thought pattern you’re absorbed in.

7. List your accomplishments.

Review your accomplishments over the last week, last month, last six months. Write down everything you can think of that you’ve done successfully. When you finish, choose one thing you can do today.

If you’re tired and can’t access your creativity or emotions easily, do something that doesn’t require much of you. Clean out a drawer, mop a floor, make a grocery list, pop a load of clothes in the washer, cook something simple, or perform some office chore that requires minimal thinking or energy.

8. Read or watch something uplifting.

Read a book – fiction or nonfiction, whichever you prefer. You could also read an inspirational blog or article. Choose something that will leave you feeling good. Or you could watch a favorite movie or TV show that makes you laugh or feel inspired.

Whatever you decide, make sure it moves you in a positive direction, not a negative one.

9. Make a date with a friend to do something.

Reach out to someone – a friend, your partner, or a family member – and plan something together. Go out to lunch or dinner, meet for coffee, or go over for a visit.

Being around other people can distract you from your mood enough that it dissipates. It’s like getting a jump start.

10. Accept that it’s a “red light day.”

​Red light days​ are those days when, no matter what you try, you can’t get yourself going or shift your mood. These days feel regressive, and they are. But sometimes this happens because you need them. You’re tired, burned out, and out of sorts.

When this happens, you might be better off to give in. Do the minimum of what you must do, but otherwise, indulge in some self-care. Watch a movie you like, do crossword puzzles, take a hot bath, eat a healthy meal, or whatever you want to do that feels comforting (as long as it’s not also destructive). Exercise is always a good option – outside, if possible.

When you let yourself have a day like this, you’ll feel much better the next day and get back on track. You can’t go full speed all the time!

Last Note

Being in a funk is unavoidable. No one can have all good days. It’s not possible. But so-called bad days have value. Sometimes, the value is that they allow you to slow down and think about what you’re feeling and doing instead of moving along at lightning speed on your daily treadmill.

When they visit you, look for that value. It might be nothing more than taking some time to rest, but days like this can leave you feeling agitated. So, being deliberate about what you do with them can make a difference in what you learn from them.

That’s all for today!

Have a great week!

All my best,


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