Finding My Way Out of The Funk
Today was one of those days.
I woke up in a funk. You know those mornings, right? Where you wake up and the first thoughts that come to your mind and the first feelings you feel as your body starts to awaken are all junked up with negativity and ingratitude and pessimism…? Maybe you had a stressful dream that affected you… or maybe you fell asleep last night without having resolved a dispute with a loved one… or maybe for no reason whatsoever you wake up and you just don’t feel like you’ve got what it takes to be a kind and loving person that day. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who wakes up like this on occasion.)
Yeah, that was me this morning. As usual, since it was an hour before anyone else in my house needs to be woken up, I immediately went out to my comfy spot on the couch, turned on the light, grabbed my Bible and journal, and began to write out my prayer. (For me, writing out my prayers simply helps me stay focused and feels more cathartic than if I only think my prayers—it’s just how I’m wired.) But even my prayer time today felt all gunked up with drama and mental sludge.
Basically: I wasn’t my chipper, smiley self. And everyone in the house could sense it as soon as they all rose for the day. I wish it weren’t this way, but in my family it’s like this: “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I can try to fake it and I can try to force it, but somehow my own crappy mood always rubs off on everyone else and soon the entire household is either a cantankerous mess or down in the dumps like me.
So I’ve found it is very important for me to learn how to help myself either avoid or get out of these funks as efficiently as possible. Of course, I pray and ask for God’s help and wisdom. But I also do whatever I can do to help prevent mommy-meltdowns from happening. So: just in case any of you have this issue as well, here are some of my own personal sanity saver habits. (And let’s just put it out there from the get-go that sometimes NONE of these work. (Argh.) But most of the time these simple habits help me at least see a glimmer of hope and light in my life again.)
Habits I Use to Avoid or Help Myself Out of “The Funk”:
1. The first step for me is always rising before the rest of my family so that I can grab at least a few moments to myself before the chaos of kids starts interrupting my every thought. So, for me, I tend to rise at least a half hour before the rest of the troops to try to gather my sanity and give God an opportunity to remind me of His Truth and to fill me up with His goodness before I dive headfirst into a day full of being poured out.
2. Movement. I’ve got to move my body. Preferably in the great outdoors. I’m not sure if it’s a learned behavior or if it is just how I’m wired (to need frequent, steady doses of endorphins in order to not sink into clinical Depression or Anxiety), but the fact of the matter is that when I move my body (i.e. on a walk or a jog or a hike, especially) my mood improves and I am able to think more clearly. (Yoga works too, sometimes, but mostly I need a good, cardiovascularly-challenging, sweat-inducing workout to get the mood-boost I need.) Thus, most weekdays, after I drop my older kids off at school, I typically set aside the first hour to go for a good long walk or to chase my toddler around a park. I will often invite a friend to join us so that I can get some girlfriend talk-time in at the same time. If I know ahead of time that it won’t work out schedule-wise to walk, I try to do some kind of 30-ish minute workout from home before the kids wake up. (I love FitnessBlender.com, FYI.) On the weekends, whenever I can, I get out of the house and hit the hills first thing in the morning.
3. I list out the things I am grateful for. Something about simply listing out the things that bring me pleasure is extremely therapeutic for me. I’ve got a running Gratitude List on my phone that I can open up and add to whenever I want to. I also list out my blessings in an ongoing document on my laptop and in my real-life, paper-and-pen journal. This way I can jot down my thoughts whenever and wherever I am. This practice of slowing down to list out my gratitudes has been indescribably helpful for me even in some of my darkest seasons. Here are a few things that made it onto my list today:
- The bold, yet calming lighting in my bedroom at the noon hour.
- The gentle breeze from my fan on this warm, sunny day.
- Ponytail holders.
- The fact that I can breathe easy today and don’t feel any allergy symptoms.
- Running water.
4. Sometimes all I really need is some good old fashioned rest to feel better. So often I hear my friends say they are exhausted— yet they also talk about how they stay up late to veg out by watching TV shows, surf the net, scroll Facebook etc… and I can’t help but think how much better we all might feel if we would just sleep instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching a show. Sleep is so much more restorative for our brains and bodies than screen-time is. Yesterday, although it would have been “easy” to spend my son’s nap time scrolling through Facebook or catching a few funny episodes of Studio C on YouTube, I chose to take a nap for the first time in months— it was heavenly. I was able to be so much kinder to my family when I woke up! Sometimes, I think sleep is one of the holiest things we can do.
5. Call for reinforcements. Sometimes I just need help. So I’ll either shoot out a group text to a group of friends or family members who I know will actually pray for me when I’m at my wit’s end. Or I’ll ask my dad or a friend to pretty-please watch my kids so I can go be alone for awhile. Or I’ll invite a friend to come over so our kids can play while she and I just fold laundry, clean up the kitchen, and chat about life together. Being surrounded and supported by wonderful friends is a huge key to helping me feel encouraged and like I might just make it through another day.
Obviously, this list is not comprehensive and doesn’t account for all the things I avoid to help keep my mind and moods as clutter-free as possible (i.e. busyness, donuts, scary movies, etc). It also doesn’t address the fact that sometimes we Depressively-prone folks genuinely need outside supplements or medication in order to counteract the yucky chemical imbalances wreaking havoc on our lives. But it’s a start. And my hope is that, just in case you, too, struggle with “the funk” like me, this simple list might help remind you of a few habits that might be able to help lift you, too, from the doldrums of waking up and feeling like you’re not sure you’ll be able to make it victoriously through another day.
And please know this, friends: I am praying for you and hoping you, too, might find a glimmer of hope and light in the midst of whatever you’re going through. I thank God for bringing me through so much already— and for showing me a few ways to help myself when I’m being pummeled yet again by that yucky beast I call “The Funk.”
I love you, guys. Praying for freedom and joy for you today.
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What about you?
What helps you get out of your “funks”? How can you help support or come alongside someone you love who struggles with these dark times?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.