We all have days that send us into a funk.
Things don’t turn out the way we expect, or a ‘surprise’ comes out of left field. Ugh.
A short-lived funk is one thing. What we don’t want is for it to take up residence and eventually send us careening down a rabbit hole. So best to have a couple of magic tools at the ready to shift the funky mindset set back into a blooming balance.
TAKE DEEP BREATHS
As humans we still experience the fight or flight response to negative emotional experiences in the same way our ancestors did. The only difference is that we’re not being chased by tigers but by every day stressors. You know you’ve entered fight or flight when suddenly your heartbeat increases, breathing becomes shallower, your skin prickles and your entire body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes is surging with adrenaline. Here’s where breathing can help. Breathing actually lowers the fight or flight response by bringing more oxygen to the brain, allowing your body to relax and create space to deal with the overload of emotions.
Take three conscious breaths. A deep inhalation through the nose to a count of 4 and a long slow exhale through the mouth to a count of 6. Carry on for several more breaths until you feel your mind and body settling.
You can also try the ‘Smiling Breath’ this is where you imagine smiling into your heart on each inhale. This one works like a charm for me. I usually feel a shift in the first minute or so and (added bonus) the corners of my mouth start turning up.
ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS
When we fall into a funk, we often lose perspective and make the cause of our distress e.n.o.r.m.o.u.s and all encompassing. Checking in with ourselves by asking the following questions, interrupts the negative thoughts.
What is the worst thing that could happen here?
What am I really afraid of?
What am I avoiding?
The answers to these questions will create a separation between you and your thoughts, the edge will come off the emotions, you’ll able to think more clearly and hopefully redirect and change course.
GRATITUDE IS THE GAME CHANGER
Nothing changes things quicker than gratitude. No emotion (fear, anger, disappointment, frustration, jealousy) can live in the presence of gratitude. All negative emotions are automatically disempowered because gratitude is just that strong. When a funk threatens to overwhelm you take 5 minutes to write down everything you are grateful for. You will feel an immediate shift. As well as the big things look for the tiny delicious micro things that make you smile like a perfect cup of coffee, catching a beautiful sun rise or having an awesome yoga, spin, barre, or Pilates class. The list will grow and grow, and you’ll have a difficult time stopping at 5 minutes. Start a gratitude journal and do this daily and you’ll feel your life transform.
Mediation clears our head and gets to the bottom of our emotions. Many of us try mediation but don’t stay with it because our minds wander, and we think we’re doing it wrong. I just spent a month in India where mediation is a way of life, one of the things I learned is that everyone has difficulty with meditation. Keeping the mind from wandering is near impossible. When it does wander (which it will) think of it as a curious toddler and gently take it by the hand and guide it back. What I learned in India is that there is no right way to meditate only the way that is best for you. And that many abandon a new mediation practice because they think they just can’t get it ‘right’.
That encouraged me to see the breath and journal I do every morning as meditation.
My ‘unconventional’ morning meditation.
What I do is to choose a word first thing every morning that represents the person I want to be, I draw and colour the word in my journal and then I do belly breathing for 5 or 10 minutes focusing on the word with each inhale. When I described this practice to the 2 Ayurvedic doctors I saw they both said, “that’s a beautiful meditation practice”.
So, the message here is to keep pursing a style of mediation that works for you (even if it seems unconventional) and try to find 5 – 10 minutes a day where you allow the mind to empty while you focus on your breath or a word.
Here are more breathing techniques:
As you breathe think to yourself breathing in…breathing out.
Count your breaths.
With soft eyes gaze at candle flame.
**Always gently returning the mind when it wanders.
Journaling is another way to declutter, get to the bottom of our emotions. It’s also a tool to catapult out of a funk. One of the best ways to declutter is a style of journaling that Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way made popular in the early 90’s. She suggests that you sit down with paper and pen, take 10 minutes to capture a flow of consciousness and gather it all on the page (or pages!). The collected thoughts are not necessarily intended to be reread the purpose only to provide a pathway to release them.
DO SOMETHING KIND
Research from the Association for Psychological Science suggests that doing intentional helpful acts for friends, acquaintances or strangers – even if its small like holding a door open could boost daily well- being. The study noted that a higher number of helpful acts correlated with higher levels of daily positive emotions and better overall mental health.
LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE
What does your best life look like? Is it peaceful? Full of joy? Is it alive with creativity and exploration? Whatever it may be you have to be in a healthy state of mind to create it and enjoy every delicious moment of living it. The practices here can help you not only get out of a funk but shift and maintain that healthy balance you seek.
If the down persists it’s the mind way of telling you there is something important to address and in this case, it may be best to seek professional help and support.
What do you do to get out of a funk?
Please share your ideas and experiences. Would love to hear.