How to help yourself when you’re in a mental funk

Last Updated: July 24, 2020 References

This article was co-authored by Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC. Adrian Klaphaak is a career coach and founder of A Path That Fits, a mindfulness-based boutique career and life coaching company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also is an accredited Co-Active Professional Coach (CPCC). Klaphaak has used his training with the Coaches Training Institute, Hakomi Somatic Psychology and Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) to help thousands of people build successful careers and live more purposeful lives.

There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 78,270 times.

Many scientists believe that nearly half of the things that make you happy are within your control. Wellbeing causes positive feelings, but positive feelings also cause wellbeing. Investing in your happiness and wellbeing creates a positive feedback loop that is self-generating and self-sustaining. Encouraging your positive, realistic thoughts to create an upward spiral of happiness. Help yourself, but don’t isolate yourself or refuse to consult others. There are things we can only get from other people, and things we can only get from ourselves.

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC
Career Coach Expert Interview. 18 December 2018. Notice when you feel good, and feel good about that. The more you dwell in your positivity, the happier and more resilient you will feel. Rather than trying to force happiness to appear, cultivate in yourself a sense of wellbeing, strength, and connectedness. Affirm the positive thoughts that come to you. Say them out loud or write them down to increase their resonance. “The sunshine feels good on my skin.” “I’m proud of myself for doing the dishes.”

  • At the end of the day, review the things that you enjoyed. List three things that brought you pleasure.
  • Positive emotion helps you repair from trauma and hardship, and builds resilience for hard times to come. [2] X Research source

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC
Career Coach Expert Interview. 18 December 2018. Treat yourself the way any human deserves to be treated: with compassion, respect, and love. Instead of being down on yourself, speak to yourself with calm attention. When negative thoughts and feelings come to you, name them. Identify the situations that bring those feelings on. Accept the feelings as they come, but analyze the beliefs behind them. [13] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world’s leading hospitals Go to source

  • If you have a negative feeling that comes often, name it and treat it like an annoying by-product of your environment. Say “oh, there’s body-shame again. Probably because I’m in this waiting room surrounded by magazines depicting one body type.”

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

Adrian Klaphaak, CPCC
Career Coach Expert Interview. 18 December 2018. Mindfulness means paying attention to your thoughts, senses, and feelings in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. It can relieve your anxiety, and help you relax out of a negative spiral. [15] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world’s leading hospitals Go to source To practice mindfulness, pay attention to your senses. List everything you can see, smell, hear, and feel in the moment. [16] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world’s leading hospitals Go to source

  • Try saying what you are doing when you begin to feel tense or stressed. Say “I am walking up the street. I am holding my jacket closed. I am breathing.”
  • Feel the breath coming in and out of you. Notice which parts of your body rise and fall. When your mind wanders, remind yourself to pay attention to your breath. [17] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world’s leading hospitals Go to source
  • To relax your whole body, tense and relax each muscle in turn.

Everyone at one time or another experiences sadness, the blues, or feels down. When were disappointed, mourning or grieving, fighting with someone we love, or a myriad of other reasons, our mood can turn from fairly happy and content to sad or depressed.

These feelings of sadness may last for hours or even days. After a major life change, the sadness may last weeks.

And although mild feelings of depression are normal and to be expected, it’s important to recognize when you may need to seek help from a professional.

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to help determine if your sadness could be depression. If you have any concern about your mental health, always check with a professional.

  1. Do you have unexpected, intense sadness that lasts longer than a few days at a time? Unless a major life change, such as an illness, divorce, or loss of job has occurred, long-lasting sadness is a sign that you need to see a professional for evaluation.
  2. Are you experiencing thoughts of suicide? If you are imagining that the world would be a better place without you, or if you think the only way you’ll every be happy is to end your life, you need to seek help immediately. Call 911 or go to your ER.
  3. Are you fatigued or lacking in energy? People who are depressed often feel drained for days or weeks at a time. They may be unable to get out of bed or go to work.
  4. Do you have feelings of hopelessness? Believing that your life will never improve or get better, or that you’re stuck in a situation you can’t control, can be a sign of depression.
  5. Are you using alcohol or drugs to manage your mood? People who are depressed will often use alcohol or drugs to try and manage their feelings of sadness.
  6. Have your eating patterns changed? Some people engage in overeating, while others have a hard time consuming food and lose weight.
  7. Have you lost interest in activities you used to enjoy? Going out with friends, attending sporting events, exercising and sexual activity are all things that often stop when a person experiences depression.
  8. Do you feel worthless or guilty? Depression can cause people to experience guilty feelings when they have done nothing wrong.
  9. Are you losing your temper or fighting more than you used to? For some people, their sadness or depression comes out as anger. Teens may get into fights at school; adults may argue or scream at their spouses.
  10. Are you becoming more irritable? Like anger or hostility, increasing irritability can be a sign of depression.

The above questions are not a way to diagnose depression. Their purpose is to help you determine if you should seek help. Only a medical or mental health professional can determine if the sadness you’re experiencing is depression. If you’re in doubt, see a professional. Depression is a serious illness, but it can be treated.

Improving your mental and emotional health usually isn’t just a matter of setting your mind to it. You need a roadmap and some ideas to help you get started. This article will provide you with some tips to help you get started.

1. Accept yourself We’re all different, but the one thing we have in common is that none of us is perfect. Many different things, including our background, race, gender, religion and sexuality, make us who we are. Everyone has something to offer and everyone is entitled to respect, including you. Try not to be too hard on yourself.

2. Get involved Meeting people and getting involved in new things can make all the difference for you and for others. Join a club, meet up with friends, do a course there are many things to do if you look around. Not only will you feel better, but you will benefit from supporting others too.

3. Keep active and exercise Regular exercise can really help to give your mental health a boost. Find something you enjoy sport, swimming, walking, dancing or cycling and then just do it. It may be hard work, but it is worth the effort. Regular exercise can help you feel more positive.

4. Eat healthy Having a balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but it will also help the way you think. Try to eat regularly and aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Good food is essential for your mind and body to work properly.

5. Keep in contact You don’t have to be strong and struggle on alone. Friends are important, especially at difficult times, so it is good to keep up contact with them.

6. Relax If too much busyness is getting you down, make time to relax. Fit things into your day that help you unwind, like listening to music, reading or watching films. Find something that you enjoy and that will work for you. Even 10 minutes of downtime during a busy day can make all the difference and help you manage stress better.

7. Express yourself Our creativity often goes unnoticed, even by ourselves, much less given a regular outlet. Find a way to express your emotions and needs on a regular basis, such as journaling, blogging, painting, writing, or some other method.

8. Talk about it Many of us can feel isolated and overwhelmed by problems sometimes. Talking about how you feel will help. Confide in someone you trust and if you feel there is nobody to talk to, call a suicide helpline or hotline in your community. Some people are comfortable just chatting with an online or real-life friend, but are embarrassed to start the conversation. You’d be amazed at just how good you will feel if you can take that first step.

9. Ask for help If you were feeling physically sick you would see a doctor, so don’t be embarrassed about getting help for your mental health. Everyone needs help from time to time and there is nothing wrong with asking for it. In fact, asking for help is a sign of personal strength.

10. Talk to a professional Many people run away from the idea of talking to a professional about their problems. They believe that it is a sign of weakness or admitting their own failure in life. Yet it takes enormous inner strength and willpower to acknowledge that most of us are not experts in every area in human living, and to seek out additional assistance. Don’t hesitate to talk to a professional if you feel like your life has reached a dead-end and you’ve tried other self-help methods and tips.

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

While it’s normal to get nervous about an important event or life change, about 40 million Americans live with an anxiety disorder, which is more than the occasional worry or fear. Anxiety disorders can range from a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is intense worrying that you can’t control, to panic disorder — sudden episodes of fear, along with heart palpitations, trembling, shaking, or sweating.

For those with an anxiety disorder, it’s important to look into strategies that can help manage or reduce anxiety in the long term, like talk therapy or medication. But everyone can benefit from other ways to reduce stress and anxiety with lifestyle changes such as eating a well-balanced diet, limiting alcohol and caffeine, and taking time for yourself.

Plus, there are steps you can take the moment when anxiety starts to take hold. Try these 10 expert-backed suggestions to relax your mind and help you regain control of your thoughts.

1. Stay in your time zone.

Anxiety is a future-oriented state of mind. So instead of worrying about what’s going to happen, “reel yourself back to the present,” says Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety. Ask yourself: What’s happening right now? Am I safe? Is there something I need to do right now? If not, make an “appointment” to check in with yourself later in the day to revisit your worries so those distant scenarios don’t throw you off track, she says.

2. Relabel what’s happening.

Panic attacks can often make you feel like you’re dying or having a heart attack. Remind yourself: “I’m having a panic attack, but it’s harmless, it’s temporary, and there’s nothing I need to do,” Chansky says. Plus, keep in mind it really is the opposite of a sign of impending death — your body is activating its fight-or-flight response, the system that’s going to keep you alive, she says.

3. Fact-check your thoughts.

People with anxiety often fixate on worst-case scenarios, Chansky says. To combat these worries, think about how realistic they are. Say you’re nervous about a big presentation at work. Rather than think, “I’m going to bomb,” for example, say, “I’m nervous, but I’m prepared. Some things will go well, and some may not,” she suggests. Getting into a pattern of rethinking your fears helps train your brain to come up with a rational way to deal with your anxious thoughts.

4. Breathe in and out.

Deep breathing helps you calm down. While you may have heard about specific breathing exercises, you don’t need to worry about counting out a certain number of breaths, Chansky says. Instead just focus on evenly inhaling and exhaling. This will help slow down and re-center your mind, she says.

5. Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm. Whenever you feel your brain going 100 miles per hour, this mental trick can help center your mind, bringing you back to the present moment, Chansky says.

6. Just do something.

Stand up, take a walk, throw away a piece of trash from your desk — any action that interrupts your train of thought helps you regain a sense of control, Chansky suggests.

7. Stand up straight.

“When we are anxious, we protect our upper body — where our heart and lungs are located — by hunching over,” Chansky says. For an immediate physical antidote to this natural reaction, pull your shoulders back, stand or sit with your feet apart, and open your chest. This helps your body start to sense that it’s back in control, she says.

8. Stay away from sugar.

It may be tempting to reach for something sweet when you’re stressed, but that chocolate bar can do more harm than good, as research shows that eating too much sugar can worsen anxious feelings. Instead of reaching into the candy bowl, drink a glass of water or eat protein, Chansky says, which will provide a slow energy your body can use to recover.

9. Ask for a second opinion.

Call or text a friend or family member and run through your worries with them, Chansky says. “Saying them aloud to someone else can help you see them clearly for what they are.” It can also help to write your fears on paper.

10. Watch a funny video.

This final tactic may be the easiest one yet: Cue up clips of your favorite comedian or funny TV show. Laughing is a good prescription for an anxious mind, Chansky says. Research shows that laughter has lots of benefits for our mental health and well-being; one study found that humor could help lower anxiety as much as (or even more than) exercise can.

Sources

Tamar Chansky, PhD.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

A proven CBT technique illustrates one way to prevent depression from COVID-19.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Depression?
  • Find a therapist to overcome depression

Imagine you don’t feel like going for a walk, but you go anyway, and your thoughts shift from “Ugh, I don’t want to go” to “This isn’t so bad” to “That actually felt good.”

Behavioral activation, a proven technique from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), increases your contact with positive, pleasurable, rewarding activities that are aligned with the life you want to lead. While you may not feel like doing these activities because you’re already down, sad, or stressed, “faking it” (doing them anyway) can brighten your thoughts, lift your mood, and prevent you from slipping further into depression.

Steps for behavioral activation:

1. Choose specific, positive actions you can take each day to improve your mood (see examples below).

2. Notice when you feel resistance to engaging in a behavior you know will help you (e.g., “I don’t feel like going for a walk,” etc.).

3. Acknowledge that the resistance may be due to existing stress or depression.

4. Decide to do it anyway (fake it ’til you make it).

5. Notice how good it made you feel (how it improved your thoughts or feelings).

Some evidence-based behaviors you might benefit from activating during COVID-19 restrictions include:

1. Take a warm bath at least twice per week.

Research suggest that taking a warm bath at least twice a week may help relieve symptoms of depression, even more than physical exercise does. Research participants who took regular baths experienced significant improvement (a reduction of 6 points on the depression scale).

During bathing several actions are exerted on the body, including hyperthermic action, hydrostatic pressure, buoyancy, and viscosity of water. Studies suggest that bathing can have effects on heart rate, metabolism, nerve stimulation, and cardiac output, which can boost immune function and provide a feeling of refreshment.

One randomized controlled trial showed that taking a bath was even more beneficial than showering. Participants who bathed showed better scores for fatigue, stress, and pain, as well as overall general health, mental health, and social functioning when compared to those who showered.

2. Exercise.

Research is clear that aerobic exercise, including jogging, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, can reduce anxiety and depression. Improvements are attributed to an exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain, which influences the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and shifts one’s physiologic reactivity to stress. Exercise may also help mental health through distraction from negative thoughts, an increased feeling of self-efficacy, and more social interaction.

3. Engage in service.

Activating the behavior of helping others can trigger the release of brain chemicals that help us feel good. Even a small bit of service can pull us out of our own funk.

James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander from The Greater Good Science Center at the University of Berkeley write:

“We feel so good when we give because we get what researchers call a “helpers high” or a distinct physical sensation associated with helping. About half of the participants in one study reported that they feel stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth.”

These scientists explain that the “helper’s high” is a literal high from a boost in neurochemicals. For example, donating money triggers a reward center in our brains that is responsible for dopamine-euphoria.

Examples of “helping” during COVID-19 restrictions include:

  • Call or face-time an elderly relative each day
  • Deliver groceries to an elderly relative or neighbor
  • Play online games or cards with an elderly relative or isolated friend
  • Write thank-you cards to health care workers or others on the “front lines” of the pandemic
  • Donate money to a fund to help people affected by COVID-19 infections or restrictions
  • Write postcards for a political campaign you believe in
  • Drop off extra food or supplies at a local food pantry

4. Read a book for 30 minutes.

Decide to read a good book instead of “vegging out” on electronics. Book reading is associated with less stress and more positive psychological outcomes, which could help prevent you from feeling worse. One study found that just 30 minutes of reading lowered participants’ blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress (just as effectively as yoga did).

Writer Rebecca Wojno suggests that when you make a habit of reading, it’s easier for your brain to relax and temporarily transport itself to another world. A blogger, Positive Kunal, put it well, writing,

“In depression, a person either keeps his/her mind inactive or occupied with negative thoughts, but when you read a positive book, you fill your mind with positive content, which further generates positive energy.”

5. Call or video chat with a friend.

Friendship is an essential element in preserving mental health. Whether providing total acceptance, laughter, or an optimistic spin on things, friends help you maintain a positive state of mind.

However, when people feel down, they often don’t feel like interacting with others. It’s when you’re depressed that it’s most important to keep friendships going. Friendship can prevent isolation and help people recover from depression.

Studies show that social support has also been shown to moderate the effect of stress on depression. We’re all stressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but if we maintain social interactions, we can prevent ourselves from becoming really depressed. Social interactions, such as Zoom meetings, Facetime, phone calls, emails, and other communication will keep us afloat during tough times.

Being intentional about filling our socially isolated days with positive behavioral activities may not be a cure-all for the intense sadness we feel right now, but it can definitely help.

Mental health has become a buzzword in these post-corona times. And although the subject is getting importance now more than ever, not many know what it actually entails. When people speak of mental health, they refer to disorders such as anxiety or depression that require guidance from a professional.

To be honest, mental health is much more than that. It is about how you feel and perceive everyday situations, and your ability to manage feelings and emotions. And although therapy is a good way to take cognisance of your mental health, you can also practice some tips at home to enhance your mental well-being.

So without further ado, let’s get a lowdown on some promises you can make to improve your mental health:

1. Value yourself

The very first thing you should do is to accept and value yourself. Do not criticise yourself all the time, and treat yourself with kindness and love. Take some time out and learn new skills; appreciate how far you’ve come; and thank yourself for being the way you are! Slowly and steadily, you will come to value yourself.

2. Give attention to your body

If you take care of your body physically, then it will have a positive impact on your mental health as well! That’s why try and eat as many nutritious meals as you can, avoid cigarettes, stay hydrated, move your body as much as you can (hello, good hormones), and make sure to get enough sleep. Do all this regularly, and you will see a marked difference in no time!

3. Surround yourself with good people

You might think this isn’t as important, but those who surround themselves with close friends and family are always in a better mental and emotional state than others! Try and make plans with those who are close to you, or you could also be a part of groups that help you meet new people. You never know you might just grow your support system!

Find yourself some trustworthy friends to keep yourself mentally healthy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Say positive affirmations

Research suggests that your self-image can have a strong impact on how you feel. So, if you constantly feel negatively about yourself, you view everything from that lens and that makes you miserable all the time. Instead, use positive affirmations that encourage you, and promote your self-worth.

5. Find different ways to deal with stress

Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, and it is now up to us how to navigate situations where we are under pressure! How about going for a run post a hectic day? You could also write a journal and spill your thoughts to feel better. Even if the times are rough, you can always find ways to laugh. And guess what? That’s also great for your immune system!

6. Calm your mind

There’s a reason why people can’t stop raving about the benefits of meditation! Of course, our minds go through daily wear and tear, and they need some down time too. When you practice meditation or mindfulness, you improve your state of mind and feel positive.

Have a hectic day? Fret not, just take a 20-minute break and step away. Take a few deep breaths and meditate for a bit. You will feel much better, and even more productive!

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funkIt’s all about managing your emotions well. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Set realistic goals

You might be an ambitious person and have several goals in life. Of course, that’s a positive thing, but do not set unrealistic goals that you can’t fulfil. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t aim high, just that you don’t need to burden yourself in one go. Take small and steady steps to stay on track!

8. Move away from monotony

We follow the same routine every single day, and that’s exactly why drudgery sets in. How about shaking up your schedule every now and then? Make changes to your exercise routine, plan a road trip or just eat at a new cafe. You’ll feel amazing, trust us!

9. Steer clear of alcohol and other drugs

Drinking a glass of wine or any other tipple is fine, but do not do it regularly. That’s because some people feel drinking and doing drugs will make them feel better, instead it just aggravates their problems. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

10. Seek help when you need it

There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to a friend, family member or even a therapist, if you need professional help. Remember seeking help is certainly not a sign of weakness—it helps you cope up with situations in a better manner, and improves your quality of life.

So, are you all ready to try out these tips? We can hear a resounding YES!

Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you’ll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.

wellness | intuition | curiosity

Bad days happen. Here are 9 strategies to be happier when you’re stuck in a funk (that don’t involve food or shopping).

I don’t care who you are, we’ve all had those days where the universe is totally conspiring against us. Or you’ve had the equally frustrating, “perfectly fine day,” but you’ve fallen in a funk and can’t get up. It feels like a cartoon rain cloud is following you around and you just can’t find your usual sunshine.

When you’re highly in-tune with your emotional and mental health, bad days can feel like an extra blow. Personally, I’m quite aware when I’m not feeling good… and I hate that feeling. Usually there’s an extra layer of frustration, precisely because I’m not happy. Can you say counter productive? There’s so much to experience and enjoy, when a bad day robs you of the positive energy you need, the negativity can spiral.

So over the past couple years, I’ve practiced various strategies for the days that I really feel like I’m in a funk that a simple pep talk or cute dog video can’t fix.

*just a note: in this post I’m not dealing with depression, which is a much more serious mental health issue. If you’re worried you may be dealing with depression talk to your doctor*

9 strategies to be happier when you’re stuck in a funk

Step 1: Be Aware

What’s the story?

It takes a lot of time and practice to be aware of your moods and then be able to pinpoint their origin. First you’ve got to understand where your baseline happiness is at, then see how far off you are. I find that sitting with my feelings and trying to figure out why, can help me decide if I’m upset about something I can change or if I should try to brush it off. And ladies, I bring this up because it’s real – look at your calendar. I’ve wasted many an hour being in a mini rage only to realize that it’s just my hormones doing their thing. Sometimes the awareness alone, can help me channel that anger/sadness/annoyance into something more positive.

Zoom Out, Find perspective

One of my favorite sayings for bad days is “a bad day doesn’t equal a bad life.” It’s so true. Some tough days I can feel like my whole life is falling apart, when just the day before I was on top of the world. Know that you’re not crazy, you’re not alone and ultimately you’ll be ok.

[Tweet “Bad days happen… here’s how to help yourself feel better”]

Step 2: Channel Your Energy into Something Positive

Spend time in nature

Whether you totally unplug or you bring along a favorite podcast or playlist, taking a walk in nature has a way of helping everything fall into place. If I’m really feeling the feels I’ll try to get to the ocean (luckily I have one about 2 miles from my house). I couldn’t tell you how or why it always works, but somehow I always end up feeling more grateful, centered and humbled after a little nature action.

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

Get off social media

In a bad mood? Don’t you dare touch Instagram. Seriously, even on the best of days social media can spike feelings of jealousy and comparison. In a bad mood? I promise you nothing good will come out of a scroll through your feed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sad and scrolled through my feed just to feel worse about myself. In fact, while you’re at it, turn your phone on do not disturb or airplane mode. You just don’t need it right now.

Clean your space

I might be crazy, but when I’m feeling out of control, or sad, or frustrated, cleaning makes me feel better. It’s something that I can almost immediately see results from. Plus, the act of putting things in their place and cleaning off surfaces clears my head along with my room (or kitchen or bathroom.) While you’re at it, light a candle. Nothing sends out good vibes like your favorite smell and a pretty flickering light.

Sweat

I know you’ve heard this one before… probably because it’s true. Just like nature, exercising in a way you enjoy – be it cycling, running, yoga-ing or walking, has some magical power over our moods. I can almost guarantee you’ll feel better and if not, at least your body will thank you for taking care of it.

Get a Hug

Sounds too simple? Maybe it is. But a big, long, embrace feels amazing no matter what mood you’re in. This past year I’ve really embraced hugging *see what I did there*. I was once a hug skeptic, but now there’s no going back. And I know I’m happier for it. Telling someone you need a hug not only helps you, but it makes the hug giver feel special too. When it doubt, hug it out.

talk (or write) it out

It’s crazy how many times I’ve had a problem brewing like a storm in my head, only to talk it out and realize everything will be fine. It’s amazing how writing or talking can immediately throw into perspective something that felt so huge in your mind.

Laugh and/or Dance

If I start to feel myself taking life too seriously all I need to do is start dancing. This works for both laughing and dancing because of how stupid I look. I can usually crack myself up in less than 30 seconds. Bonus: make someone else’s day brighter by filming your dance on snapchat and sending it along 😉

Your Turn:

What’s your go-to happiness move when you’re having a tough day? Leave a comment below 15

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How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

Hey, I’m Temperance!

Hello beautiful people!

Today let’s deep dive into how to help ourselves through crisis management, or really, just plain old emotions.

Letting ourselves feel and walking ourselves through stress is really difficult. And for most of us, we were never taught how to do it.

Plus, most of the media we consume doesn’t talk about how to do it either. Usually, it shows stuffing down our feelings and filling the hole with substances, meaningless relationships, activities, work, and a general feeling of uselessness.

We don’t see people in the middle of a crisis sit down to journal and then do 5 minutes of meditation.

A lot of us don’t know what it means to cope and what that really looks like.

How do we let ourselves feel our feelings? How do I connect with my body? Am I going to be okay? How do I fix this?

Take a breath darling, it’s all going to be okay. You are exactly where you need to be, doing exactly what you need to be doing.

You are enough.

Let’s look at what it takes to go through all the feels, together. You are going to be just fine .

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

Here are 5 really important questions to ask yourself when you’re highly emotional, and how to go through it.

What am I feeling?

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

Identify the feelings you are having.

If this is proving difficult, reference the motions list linked below to help you figure out what you’re feeling.

It is also okay not to know. You can just be emotional.

All the things you are feeling are more than ok.

Also remember, your feelings cannot physically hurt you. Anxiety can’t kill you and sadness won’t kill you. Nothing is too much to handle and you won’t physically combust from these feelings.

Action step: Look through the List of Emotions (Worksheet) and journal/ talk through the ones you’re experiencing right now.

Where am I feeling it in my body?

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

Close your eyes, take 3 deep breaths. Where are you feeling tension? Where are the emotions residing?

Breathe into these spaces.

What happens if you acknowledge this space and sit with this tension and your breath?

If the worst case scenario happened, what would that look like? Would you be okay?

Check out the useful diagram linked below to help you visualize these emotions in your body.

Action step: Go through and do the Where Do I Feel? Visual

Am I fighting this feeling? If so, why?

Am I fearful of this feeling? Why? What is bad about it, is it really the worst thing possible?

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

Are you in surrender or in resistance? What does this look like for you?

For me, surrender looks like letting the emotions flood through me. I feel them flow down my body, circulate there, and eventually pass.

It means knowing this feeling won’t kill me. Knowing this will pass and it is not forever. And knowing this feeling and fear is not a fact.

Resistance for me means I am trying to distract myself. I want to focus on problem solving. I want something to change, fix, or do. I want a tangible result right now to take away the feelings I won’t let myself feel.

A lot of the time, I am in resistance. But the funny thing is, being in surrender is actually much easier and lasts a lot less time than resistance.

However, somewhere along the way I learned emotions were scary, bad, and to be avoided at all costs.

Why? I don’t know. What’s so bad about feelings anyway? From the times I’ve been in surrender the emotions were never as bad as I feared and it felt good to let it all out.

Action step : Do some writing to see what resistance and surrender/ acceptance looks like for you at this moment. + Look through the below links.

What do I have control over and what am I powerless over?

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

What can you actually do about your problem? Is it something tangible such as studying for a test, apologizing for something you did, confronting someone who crossed your boundaries?

Or is it an issue you have to let go of and release to the kind universe, or a higher power of your choosing? Something like a friendship issue feeling lonely, being rejected for a job, etc.

Is this a long term issue that you have to sit with now and know the solution will materialize in time?

Action step: Get honest with yourself, do some meditating to see your situation more clearly and answer these questions for yourself. + Read the link below

Now, how can I cope in a healthy way and practice self care and relaxation?

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

Healthy coping means not using a substance (food, drugs, alcohol, etc.) or compulsively spending money, really anything that takes you away from the feelings at hand and distracts you from facing them head on.

Once you have done that inner work and are giving yourself permission to feel, now its time to reducing stress, relaxation and self care.

This looks like taking it easy, being kind to yourself, and being gentle to your body and mind.

Try taking into account your senses;

Smell your favorite smell- maybe spices, a perfume/ cologne, or soap.

Feel by wearing something soy, taking a warm shower or bath. Feel your whole body by moving it- walking, running, weight lifting, yoga.

Hear by listening to your favorite songs, a guided meditation, nature sounds like waves crashing, birds chirping and more

See visually relaxing images. You could look at nature, maybe watch a movie or show, do some art, read. You can also close your eyes and create a picture of something that relaxes you. Be it a place, memory, or what have you. Sit still with this image for 5 minutes.

Action step: Look at these linked short articles. Choose one or two to try right now.

You are going to be okay, deep breaths, this will pass.

How to help yourself when you're in a mental funk

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.