How to get out of a funk when you’re stressed out

How to get out of a funk when you're stressed out

There are days when I feel a little strange. Not sick, not tired, not distracted, just unable to focus. I want to do work, but when I sit down to start, I can’t bring myself to actually do it.

I can only call this feeling a funk. You’ve probably felt it too—and you’ve probably either found a way to shrug it off (for that I congratulate you) or, more likely, you’ve struggled all day to fight it and only succeeded in doing mediocre work as a result.

I can’t tell you there’s a way to avoid this feeling completely, but I can say that from experience, it’s possible to combat when it happens—so you can get back to work refreshed and ready to go.

1. Figure Out What’s Going On

There could be a concrete explanation—you barely slept all weekend, you’ve been working on this project for too long, you don’t know where to begin, you don’t really want to begin. Or there could be no real reason at all.

That being said, while it’s helpful to know why you’re in a funk, I believe it’s even more important to know what kind you’re in. When you focus solely on the reason why, it’s more of a blame game—“I hate having to wake up this early for work,” “This project is too difficult for me”—and you end up complaining rather than fixing the problem at hand.

But when you explore the what—the physical (your head feels heavy, you can’t stare at one place for more than a second, you have an actual headache) and the mental (your thoughts are jumbled, you can’t pinpoint your emotions)—you can more easily target the problem head on and become more in-tune with yourself. And once you’re at that state, you’re able to move forward with how you’re going to tackle it.

2. Talk it Out

First, I suggest talking out what you discovered in step one—to a friend, to a co-worker, even to yourself (just be sure to warn people around you if it’s in the office). As you probably learned from experience, saying stuff out loud helps you process. When we speak our thoughts, we put a tangible feeling out in the open, and it’s suddenly easier to manage than in our heads.

So try it. Sit down with a colleague and tell him or her what you’re struggling with, or go for a walk and talk it over with yourself.

3. Kill the (Extra) Distractions

While you process, you’re going to want to remove each and every distraction. For example, while writing this very article, I minimized social media tabs, killed any unnecessary programs, and increased the size of my word document to full screen.

This way, the only thing in front of me was a (very blank) Word doc. I may have started out feeling all-over-the-place, but as I narrowed my attention in on this one, simple project, my mind became clearer and more alert.

And science supports this! Studies show that external distractions negatively affect both the quantity and quality of your work.

So, take a few moments to see what’s taking your mind off the main goal—is it your chatty co-workers or your current playlist? Is it a text you’ve been waiting for from your friend or the clock at the top of your computer screen? Whatever it is, eliminate it.

4. Use Your “Get Out of Funk Free” Card

If you’ve made it through the first three steps and you still feel foggy, I’m going to encourage you to take a much-needed break. Even if you just got to work, even if you are swamped, even if you have a deadline.

Because nothing good is going to get done if you continue feeling this way, so you might as well be productive by focusing on you. And the thing is, a break doesn’t mean taking the whole day off. It might not even mean taking an hour off.

So, go against everything I recommended above and give in to all your distractions: listen to that song, play with your favorite desk toy, grab a cup of coffee with your friend, text that person you’ve been waiting to hear back from, really nothing is off limits. Consider these things part of your “Get out of funk free” card.

Here’s the catch: You need to give yourself a time limit. And no, it can’t be all day. Try 30 minutes, 60 at most. Because even when you’re in a funk, you still have work to do—which brings me to my next point.

5. Give Up and Move On

When all’s said and done, you’re still at work, that deadline is still drawing nearer, and your boss still needs that presentation in. So, I can’t tell you to give up entirely and go home.

But I can tell you that maybe today’s not the day you want to take on that huge project. Instead, handle the mundane tasks—emails, scheduling, quick to-dos that don’t take a ton of thought—and you can come back ready for the bigger stuff bright and early tomorrow morning.

When you eventually clear your mind and get the job done, make sure to pat yourself on the back. Because it’s not an easy thing to push through, and you want to remember for the future that you can do it. Remind yourself how you felt going in and how much you achieved despite that. Then, cherish the feeling of accomplishment and challenge yourself to stay this confident again tomorrow.

Oh, and know this: Even the smartest people have off days, it’s how they work through (and around) them that makes them able to create truly exceptional work.

How to get out of a funk when you're stressed out

There are days when I feel a little strange. Not sick, not tired, not distracted, just unable to focus. I want to do work, but when I sit down to start, I can’t bring myself to actually do it.

I can only call this feeling a funk. You’ve probably felt it too—and you’ve probably either found a way to shrug it off (for that I congratulate you) or, more likely, you’ve struggled all day to fight it and only succeeded in doing mediocre work as a result.

I can’t tell you there’s a way to avoid this feeling completely, but I can say that from experience, it’s possible to combat when it happens—so you can get back to work refreshed and ready to go.

1. Figure Out What’s Going On

There could be a concrete explanation—you barely slept all weekend, you’ve been working on this project for too long, you don’t know where to begin, you don’t really want to begin. Or there could be no real reason at all.

That being said, while it’s helpful to know why you’re in a funk, I believe it’s even more important to know what kind you’re in. When you focus solely on the reason why, it’s more of a blame game—“I hate having to wake up this early for work,” “This project is too difficult for me”—and you end up complaining rather than fixing the problem at hand.

But when you explore the what—the physical (your head feels heavy, you can’t stare at one place for more than a second, you have an actual headache) and the mental (your thoughts are jumbled, you can’t pinpoint your emotions)—you can more easily target the problem head on and become more in-tune with yourself. And once you’re at that state, you’re able to move forward with how you’re going to tackle it.

2. Talk it Out

First, I suggest talking out what you discovered in step one—to a friend, to a co-worker, even to yourself (just be sure to warn people around you if it’s in the office). As you probably learned from experience, saying stuff out loud helps you process. When we speak our thoughts, we put a tangible feeling out in the open, and it’s suddenly easier to manage than in our heads.

So try it. Sit down with a colleague and tell him or her what you’re struggling with, or go for a walk and talk it over with yourself.

3. Kill the (Extra) Distractions

While you process, you’re going to want to remove each and every distraction. For example, while writing this very article, I minimized social media tabs, killed any unnecessary programs, and increased the size of my word document to full screen.

This way, the only thing in front of me was a (very blank) Word doc. I may have started out feeling all-over-the-place, but as I narrowed my attention in on this one, simple project, my mind became clearer and more alert.

And science supports this! Studies show that external distractions negatively affect both the quantity and quality of your work.

So, take a few moments to see what’s taking your mind off the main goal—is it your chatty co-workers or your current playlist? Is it a text you’ve been waiting for from your friend or the clock at the top of your computer screen? Whatever it is, eliminate it.

4. Use Your “Get Out of Funk Free” Card

If you’ve made it through the first three steps and you still feel foggy, I’m going to encourage you to take a much-needed break. Even if you just got to work, even if you are swamped, even if you have a deadline.

Because nothing good is going to get done if you continue feeling this way, so you might as well be productive by focusing on you. And the thing is, a break doesn’t mean taking the whole day off. It might not even mean taking an hour off.

So, go against everything I recommended above and give in to all your distractions: listen to that song, play with your favorite desk toy, grab a cup of coffee with your friend, text that person you’ve been waiting to hear back from, really nothing is off limits. Consider these things part of your “Get out of funk free” card.

Here’s the catch: You need to give yourself a time limit. And no, it can’t be all day. Try 30 minutes, 60 at most. Because even when you’re in a funk, you still have work to do—which brings me to my next point.

5. Give Up and Move On

When all’s said and done, you’re still at work, that deadline is still drawing nearer, and your boss still needs that presentation in. So, I can’t tell you to give up entirely and go home.

But I can tell you that maybe today’s not the day you want to take on that huge project. Instead, handle the mundane tasks—emails, scheduling, quick to-dos that don’t take a ton of thought—and you can come back ready for the bigger stuff bright and early tomorrow morning.

When you eventually clear your mind and get the job done, make sure to pat yourself on the back. Because it’s not an easy thing to push through, and you want to remember for the future that you can do it. Remind yourself how you felt going in and how much you achieved despite that. Then, cherish the feeling of accomplishment and challenge yourself to stay this confident again tomorrow.

Oh, and know this: Even the smartest people have off days, it’s how they work through (and around) them that makes them able to create truly exceptional work.

**If you missed, it, I announced the winner of the CSN giveaway here.**

I am in kind of a funk today. I know why, but I can’t seem to shake it. I get in funks for two main reasons – being annoyed at someone (or someone being annoyed at me) and my stomach. Here are some tips to get out of a funk.

How to Get Out of a Funk

Drink some coffee. I don’t believe that coffee is bad for you (in moderation). I have about one cup a day and I’m perfectly fine. It also tastes good, so that cheers me up. And it gives me energy so that I want to do something. Something like…

Clean your house. Cleaning is a great distraction. If I am pissed at you, just point me towards a messy or dirty area of my apartment and I will probably come back 15 minutes later having forgotten why I was feeling funky in the first place. Cleaning is therapeutic for funky moods.

How to get out of a funk when you're stressed out

Organize. This is like the cleaning thing. Organizing is very soothing (if you like it). Humans like order – did you know that the reason that some things sound pretty to us (think Mozart) is because of the organization of the sounds? If you want to get scientific, the physics behind a major chord is much more organized than the physics behind, say, nails on a chalkboard. So organizing = happiness = getting out of a funk.

How to get out of a funk when you're stressed out

Throw crap away. This is also related to the cleaning and organizing thing 😀 When you throw away old papers that will never be of use, throw away your funk too. Throwing sh*t out gets things off your mind. When you have less to think about, you’re probably less stressed, and thus… feeling less funky.

Get a manicure. Pampering is always a good way to get in a better mood!

Blog. Even if you don’t publish what you write, just write it all out. It can be really freeing to get all the crap out of you head and onto paper. This could be yet another way of “organizing” because you are organizing what’s going on in your head. You don’t even have to write about why you are pissy, just write something random. Maybe you can write a story about two fat cats that like to drool on your nice couch.

All of these things are basically saying…

Distract yourself, forget about it, throw away the funk, and organize something because organizing makes people happy.

I actually did all of these things this morning, in that order, except for the manicure part… because I already got a manicure on Tuesday. It’s still going strong. And now I am mostly out of my funk. Especially now that I have blogged about it.

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Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She’s also a psychotherapist, the author of the bestselling book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” and the host of The Verywell Mind Podcast.

How to get out of a funk when you're stressed out

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If you find yourself completely overwhelmed and in need of fast-acting ways to calm down from stress, don’t worry. There are some quick and easy things you can do to cope.

Stress comes in many forms. It can build gradually over time or occur in a moment and then be gone. There is even a beneficial type called eustress, which is actually good for you unless it becomes too intense or chronic. If you’re dealing with chronic stress, it’s important to implement some practices to manage stress over the long term.

Too much of any type of stress can feel overwhelming, and it can often sneak up on us. When you need to relax your mind and body immediately, below are nine easy strategies for how to calm yourself down in the moment so you can deal with whatever situation is at hand.

Take a Short Walk

Exercise can be a great stress reliever because it helps you blow off steam and releases endorphins. Even if you have just 5 or 10 minutes, moving your body for a bit will help. If you have more time or can take your walk outside, even better.

Walking with a good friend can be a nice way to find social support, and walking alone can provide you with some time to think, reframe, and come back to the situation with renewed optimism. You could also listen to music that soothes or energizes you (unless the noise wouldn’t help).

Taking a walk can bring you the benefits of exercise—both short-term and long-term—and as a bonus, it gets you out of the stressful situation temporarily. This can provide you with some perspective so you can return in a new frame of mind.

Breathe Deeply

If you’re not in a position to leave where you are, you can feel better right away by practicing breathing exercises. Getting more oxygen into your body and releasing physical tension are two ways that breathing exercises can benefit you. And you can do them anytime or anywhere, even if your demanding situation isn’t letting up.

To make your deep breathing even more soothing, try closing your eyes and/or pressing your palms together in a prayer position.

Visualize Relief

If you can steal away a few minutes of peace, visualizations and guided imagery are a wonderful way to restore peace of mind. They’re easy to do and can relax you mentally and physically. With practice, you can easily access your “happy place” and quickly feel calmer when stressed.

Reframe Your Situation

Sometimes we intensify our experience of stressful situations by the way we look at them. If you can look at your situation differently, you may be able to put it into a different perspective—one that causes you less stress.

Mental and emotional stress can be caused by pessimism, type A traits, and other self-sabotaging thought patterns. Learn how you can change the way you look at things. It will come in handy when you’re stressed.

Relax Your Muscles

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a technique where you tense and release all of your muscle groups, leaving your body to feel more relaxed afterward. Just about anyone can do PMR, and with practice, you can fully release virtually all the tension you’re feeling in your body in a matter of seconds. This can help you feel calmer and better able to handle the situations in front of you.

Sniff Something Soothing

Aromatherapy is another easy tool that you can use quickly. A 2020 review in the International Journal of Cardiovascular Sciences that looked at five different studies found that aromatherapy use, specifically lavender, was associated with decreased anxiety, depression, stress, and fatigue in patients with cardiovascular disease. You can simply light a candle or diffuser, enjoy the aroma, and see if your stress levels go down.

Write It Down

If you have just a few minutes, you could also benefit from journaling. A 2020 review published in Critical Care Nurse found that journal writing seems to help reduce psychological distress in families with critically ill loved ones. You can write about what’s causing you stress and get your emotions out on the page.

Drink Some Water

In addition to thirsty, dehydration can also make you feel tired and dizzy. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try drinking a glass of water. Even better: Brewing a stress-relieving cup of tea can provide a much-needed break to step away from what’s making you stressed—if you have the time.

Chew Gum

Have some gum nearby? Research shows that chewing gum may help reduce stress. If you haven’t tried chewing gum in stressful situations, keep a stash of your favorite flavor on hand to try next time and see if it helps.

A Word From Verywell

Once you’ve been able to calm down, you should be in a better position to address whatever stressful situations you’re experiencing. It’s also a good idea to adopt a few regular stress relievers and healthy lifestyle habits so that you can reduce your overall stress level. Then you will be less affected by the stressful situations you do encounter in the future.

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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How to get out of a funk when you're stressed out

How To Get Out of a Funk #272

“When you’re in a funk, it’s time to go back to the fundamentals of personal growth and development, because I believe the greatest way to get out of a funk is to grow.” – Brian Buffini

Life is designed to have peaks and valleys. We all have highs and lows along the way – that just means we’re human. In this episode, Brian explains why everyone experiences a funk sometimes and how to best get past it. Topics discussed include: the three kinds of funks that exist; why positive self-talk matters; the difference between isolation and solitude; and why you must be careful what you read, watch and listen to.

YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Reasons why you can get into a funk.
  • How to navigate a funk when there is no instant fix.
  • Steps to take to get out of a funk.

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES FROM THIS EPISODE:

“We have highs, we have lows, we have times we’re fired up, we have times when we’re just at the bottom. There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re human.” Brian Buffini

“It takes grit to be relentlessly positive.” Brian Buffini

“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” Brené Brown

“We all need people. And we all do better with people.” Brian Buffini

“One of the most life-giving things in the world is to serve somebody else.” Brian Buffini

This is a placeholder for your sticky navigation bar. It should not be visible.

How to get out of a funk when you're stressed out

How To Get Out of a Funk #272

“When you’re in a funk, it’s time to go back to the fundamentals of personal growth and development, because I believe the greatest way to get out of a funk is to grow.” – Brian Buffini

Life is designed to have peaks and valleys. We all have highs and lows along the way – that just means we’re human. In this episode, Brian explains why everyone experiences a funk sometimes and how to best get past it. Topics discussed include: the three kinds of funks that exist; why positive self-talk matters; the difference between isolation and solitude; and why you must be careful what you read, watch and listen to.

YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Reasons why you can get into a funk.
  • How to navigate a funk when there is no instant fix.
  • Steps to take to get out of a funk.

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES FROM THIS EPISODE:

“We have highs, we have lows, we have times we’re fired up, we have times when we’re just at the bottom. There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re human.” Brian Buffini

“It takes grit to be relentlessly positive.” Brian Buffini

“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” Brené Brown

“We all need people. And we all do better with people.” Brian Buffini

“One of the most life-giving things in the world is to serve somebody else.” Brian Buffini

May 12, 2020 Updated September 7, 2020

Read more from our self-improvement package and get tips on how to feel good about yourself, how to be more romantic, how to be a better parent, how to communicate better, how to enjoy life, and how to make a relationship last.

You know how the expression goes: Slump happens. Okay, so that’s not quite how the expression goes, but it’s sort of the same thing, right? Now and then, you’re cruising along, minding your own business, when you really step in it. And once you’ve stepped in a slump, a stink settles over you that can feel impossible to shake.

Sometimes a slump is triggered by work stress. Other times it’s kickstarted by problems at home. Some slumps seemingly come out of nowhere, with no rhyme or reason. Regardless of how they come about, though, slumps always suck. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you don’t have to resign yourself to spending the rest of your life in a slump.

With these (baby) steps, you should be able to start putting your slump behind you.

Acknowledge and Accept

Slumps have a way of making you feel like something is wrong with you. Like, maybe you aren’t in a slump — maybe you’re just a failure. But oh, honey, no. A slump is a slump. Deep down, most of us can tell when a funk is starting to take over, yet we still try to ignore it or rationalize it. However, when you’re in a solid slump, sticking your head in the sand will only make it stretch on longer. A better tactic? Facing your slump head-on by acknowledging it and accepting it.

If you can pinpoint starting to feel this way right as the pandemic hit, then it’s important to know that you’re not alone. In fact, according to an ongoing survey of mental health by the CDC, rates of anxiety or depression have only increased since the pandemic’s start, and especially as the nation went into quarantine. If you’re one of the many millions facing a hard time right now, it’s important to seek help, whether via a counselor or a friend.

Reach Out

The insidious thing about a slump is that it sort of lurks around in the dark, waiting to pull you in. By asking for help or talking to people about the funk you’ve been feeling, you pull it into the light. And once it’s there, it’s much easier to see that you are the one with the real power — not your slump.

Give Yourself Grace

Listen, some people are going to tell you that you shouldn’t throw a pity party. They want you to be positive and bounce toward a sunnier state of mind. You should know that you’re allowed to feel a little sorry for yourself, though. You don’t want to dwell in those feelings, but you shouldn’t feel guilty if you give in to your feelings for just a moment. Often, the only way to get past certain feelings — anger or confusion or sadness — is to feel them.

Minimize Negativity

Sure, this sounds slightly at odds with the point we just made. In reality, though, they go hand in hand. You’ve got a hard enough battle dealing with the darkness rolling around in your head right now. Don’t compound that any more than you can help. Steer clear of toxic people. Avoid places with negative associations. To help you find your way out of your slump, you’ll want to surround yourself with people and places that will lift you up, not pull you down further.

Find the Lesson

You might be thinking that this sounds like some annoying zen-meta-namaste crap. Still, looking for the teachable moment in your slump can give you a positive channel for focusing your energy. As crazy as it sounds, it can be healing to give thanks for the slump. What did you learn from it? Did it help change your perspective for the better? Pinpoint the silver lining in the situation and be grateful for it.

Practice True Self-Care

You can’t be truly happy if you don’t take care of yourself first. There’s a reason they say to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you can help others. Pick up a gratitude journal and start small, by acknowledging your health, the food on your table, the support system around you, for having shelter over your head, and other small things. It will put so much into perspective.

When you’re deep in a slump, it’s hard to take care of yourself. Even brushing your hair goes out the window. And those dust bunnies? Why bother? They’ll just reappear tomorrow. But, forcing yourself to take care of yourself can actually improve your slump. How? If you’re already feeling down, looking in the mirror at your crazy brows or stepping into the kitchen to find the ever growing pile of dishes only makes you feel worse. Suddenly you’re not just down because of point A. Now you’re down because you feel ugly or because your house is trashed. Live in the filth during your pity party, but then take steps to turn things around. Make a self care box. Take the bubble bath (and brush your hair afterwards) and wash the dishes. Tomorrow you can wax your brows and swiffer just one room. Accomplishing a task, no matter how small, will give you a rush of adrenaline and make you feel better. Promise.

In other words: Take time for yourself. What do you want to do? What do you feel is missing from your life? Do you need to seek counsel from a therapist? Placing your mental health above all else is an incredibly important first step in getting out of a slump.

Shake Things Up

There’s truly nothing like a shock to the system to shake you right out of your slump. After all, a slump by definition is when you get stuck. By doing something dramatically different than your normal routine, it could be enough to reignite that fire in your belly to get out into the world and do something.

Set Small Goals

Don’t worry; no one is testing you on how fast you can find your way out of a rut. It’s not a competition, either. No one is going to be waiting at the finish line, taunting you for not sloughing off your slump the fastest. It’s okay to start with small goals — one at a time — and work your way out of your slump slowly.

Help Someone

When you’re really feeling low, leaving the house, talking to others or being an otherwise productive member of society doesn’t just feel hard, it feels downright impossible. That doesn’t change the importance, though. While we’re not suggesting you throw a fundraiser or give away all your Earthly possessions, we are suggesting you find a way to be kind to someone. Maybe it’s simply buying an extra Big Mac for the houseless person on the street. Or, perhaps, you help someone simply by texting a friend who you know has been or still is in a similar situation. Saying, “This sucks, right?” is often enough to make that person feel less alone. When they respond, you’ll feel that same camaraderie. We created a list of kindness activities you can do (with or without kiddos) – most cost very little money and require zero commitment. Since being in a slump often leads to us being flakey, no commitment is a good thing. See if making someone else smile can make you feel better, too.

I woke up the other morning in a bad mood. I wondered if I’d had a nightmare. Nope, I couldn’t recall any. I wasn’t hungover. I hadn’t even checked my social media yet, so I hadn’t activated any angsty comparison triggers. I just opened my eyes that morning, and had a sense of foreboding. I simply felt like life wasn’t great, for no obvious reason at all.

Do you ever feel that way? Some people think of this as the yin and yang of life, the natural ups and downs of being human. But left unaddressed, it can ruin your day (or worse).

Taken from Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal by Lori Deschene, here are some prompts to help you get out of a funk and have a “happier, brighter life.”

Ask yourself these questions:

1. What’s the best thing that’s happened to me so far today, and what did I most appreciate about it?

Big or small… go! So far this morning I’ve appreciated the bulletproof coffee my husband made me and the business I’ve built, which allows me to work from my bed. Bliss!

2. Which household items do I most appreciate and why?

I love my books, my tea, and my favorite chair. Look around you. What do you love?

3. What do I most appreciate about my body and why?

Your strength? Your great hair? Your height? Your clear skin?

4. What are some things that recently went right or better than expected?

Whether it was a tough conversation, a job interview, a Pilates class, or winged eyeliner—don’t discount the small stuff! A happy life is just string of many small, happy moments.

Finish these sentences:

5. I’m grateful that I’m healthy enough to…

Travel? Work out? Start a side hustle?

6. Though I may not be rich, I’m thankful I have enough money to…

Order your favorite food? Visit your friend in another state? Live in your favorite city or neighborhood?

7. I appreciate that every day I get to…

Kiss your spouse. Walk your dog. Do some yoga. We tend to take our privileges for granted.

8. The best things in life are free, including…

My dog’s unconditional love. The power of happy memories. My husband’s sense of humor. Central Park. What comes to mind for you?

9. I appreciate that tomorrow I’ll get to…

Have coffee at your desk? Skype your sister? Wear your new jacket? Walk to work on a sunny morning? Keep going with this one!

10. I appreciate that I had the courage to…

This is my fave! I listed: Start a business. Move to New York. Learn to speak in front of groups. Network with people who felt more important than me. Give up recreational drugs. Quit my high-paying job. Release a book. Write about my life with honesty and vulnerability. Be myself!

What comes up for you when you finish these sentences and ask yourself these questions? You don’t need a bonus check, a text from an ex, or low number on the scale to feel a boost in your well-being. Happiness can mean accepting and enjoying exactly where you are right now. Put simply, it’s called appreciation.

Deschene states, “We need gratitude the most when we feel least able to access it.” Like when we wake up in a funk.

And these great, small things are all true. What can you turn around with some truth today?

Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!

Author David Blistein shares his personal tips on how to make the day a little less painful when you’re in the midst of major depression or anxiety.

How to get out of a funk when you're stressed out

You’re so depressed you can’t get out of bed. You’re so anxious you can’t stop moving. Maybe both. That latest medication or complementary treatment seems to be helping. Or you’re thinking nothing’s ever going to work. Regardless, simply getting through the day is a challenge. I’ve been there.

Here are some things I have tried that might help you as well:

Be kind to yourself. If you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t think, “I shouldn’t have a broken leg.” But if you’re depressed, it’s easy to think, “I shouldn’t be depressed,” or “I should calm down.” In our culture, we pride ourselves on pushing through things. When you’re depressed, however, “beating yourself up” only increases your sense of helplessness. It’s OK if you aren’t as much fun to be around. It’s OK if you’re not as productive as usual. You don’t have a broken leg…you have a broken heart. And it takes time to heal.

Take small steps. Lying in bed wishing you could just pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep? It’s OK to keep lying there. Maybe do one small thing that might make you feel a bit better. Like smile for ten seconds. Or stretch a little. I know you don’t feel like smiling or stretching. But give it a shot. Maybe you can manage to get up but don’t feel like doing anything. Make some tea or coffee, go to a comfortable chair and look out a window. Sit outside if the weather’s OK. In winter you can zip yourself into a sleeping bag or cover yourself with blankets. I was so manic I had to get out of bed (often at 4 or 5 a.m.) I couldn’t sit and meditate even though I’d done it for years. I was, however, able to take few deep breaths once in a while. That was the best I could do, so that’s what I did.

Take a hike. Everyone knows how important exercise can be to mental health. It not only produces endorphins but can give you a feeling of accomplishment. There’s no need to do some heavy-duty workout. If you don’t feel like running, walk. If you don’t feel like walking, stroll. Just move your body a bit each day. Even though I walked and biked a lot, I still felt trapped inside my own head. So I’d try to feel my feet on the ground…just for a few seconds. Or look at something outside my brain—a tree, a flower, the sky. Taking a little hike someplace you’ve never been before can help pull you out of yourself a bit. OK, I admit it—a few times I hugged a tree. I felt really silly doing it. But, I could actually feel some of my anxiety dissolving into the tree. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

Get a massage. Whether you’re depressed or anxious, massage is one of the best ways to be kind to yourself. So are other “hands-on” treatments, such as craniosacral therapy and Reiki. Plus, scheduling a massage every week gives you something to look forward to. If you can’t afford one, ask your partner or a friend. They don’t have to have any special skills. My only caveat would be that deep massage techniques like shiatsu or rolfing can bring up emotional stuff. So it’d be best of the person doing it has experience massaging clients with depression and mania.

Repeat after me. When you’re depressed, being asked to think positively can be like asking someone who’s color blind to see red. But you can pretend to think positively. Again, just for a few seconds, or a minute. Say to yourself, or out loud, “I feel fabulous. I feel fabulous. I feel fabulous.” Think of it like a mantra, or a prayer, or the way children “make believe” in order to have different experiences.

Write or draw. Describing your experience can give you little distance from it. I wrote a lot of e-mails when I was going through my breakdown. Knowing there was someone out there listening helped get those thoughts out of me instead of just rolling around in my head. Drawing can also help get things unstuck. You don’t have to be an artist. Scribbling is just as effective. Use lots of colors.

Talk to Friends. This one’s a bit tricky. Because most friends want you to feel better so badly, they often make suggestions that make you feel more inadequate. It’s OK to ask a friend to just listen. Just listen. To only make suggestions if you ask for them. It’s also OK not to talk. Marilyn Monroe, of all people, said: “It’s often just enough to be with someone. I don’t need to touch them. Not even talk. A feeling passes between you both. You’re not alone.”

Cry and scream. Crying is not a sign of weakness. It’s a way to let go. I wouldn’t overdo it in front of the kids or at work, but when you can find a safe place to just let it go…let it go.

Self-Care at Work

All the things I’ve written about may sound nice—and can be good complements (although not replacements) for professional help. But what about when you have a 9 to 5 job and spend most of your time trying to mask how badly you feel? If you get “mental health days” take advantage of them. No need to feel guilty about it. They’re as important as sick days. If possible, find someone at work you can confide in…so you can let the mask down a bit during the day. Finally, you can usually take those few deep breaths or go for that short walk.

I really hope this helps. While I’m not dealing with severe depression now, I have been. And at various times I did all of these things. They certainly weren’t cures in themselves (that usually requires working with professionals), but they always took the edge off. And they helped me get through the day.