Getting Out Of The Funk – Depression and Stress
For the most part I like to keep this blog very positive and proactive, but there are times in life we all find ourselves in a bit of a funk. Now, lucky for me, my funks are few and far between but that is not the case for everyone. I know many people that fall victim to The Funk every few months, weeks, or even days. And, as most of us know, The Funk can last for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, and, for some people, even a few months.
This being the case it is extremely important to;
1. Realize you’re in The Funk,
2. Acknowledge what exactly is causing The Funk, and
3. Create a plan of action to get out of The Funk.
What Is “The Funk?”
The Funk (as defined for this post) is a state of negative being – a state in which you find yourself to have less energy, less happiness, and an overall lack-luster mindset to do… anything and everything really. Yeah, it’s pretty much depression but I like to think of it a bit different than depression. I think of the The Funk as the resulting lifestyle and quality of life that comes with being depressed…a pretty unhappy and, equally if not more importantly, unmotivated state of being.
The Funk’s a Slippery Slope
So, as if it doesn’t sound bad enough already, The Funk is extremely contagious! It is a slippery slope hiding behind almost every corner of life. Sitting, waiting, and hoping we take just one wrong step….and the truth is we take a number of wrong steps almost every single day of our lives.
So, all we have to do is watch our step…?
Well, I wish it were that easy. The truth is we have to watch more than just our own steps. You see, The Funk is not always something we fall into. At times it is completely out of our control – at times we are pushed into The Funk.
Getting Out Of The Funk, Step 1 – Realizing the Funk
It should be easy to realize The Funk right?
Well….no. Some, if not most, of all Funk is odorless!
It can creep up on you like that guy at the gym who thinks he can go half the week wearing the same shirt and no one will smell him….or better yet, like that the t-shirt that stayed in the washer too long but doesn’t really smell like it did until you start to sweat – MAN I HATE THAT!
Nonetheless, the point is that The Funk can strike Ninja-like, and, before we know it, it’s got us in its Ninja grip with no signs of letting go.
So, it is of utmost importance that we realize The Funk before it’s too late.
I was just now in a three-week long Funk before I actually realized I was in The Funk. I had found myself waking up late and cutting workouts short…or skipping them all together. At first I made up excuses as to why I was sleeping in and/or skipping workouts. “Well, I guess my body is just a bit tired,” I told myself the first week. So, I cut out running from my regiment so that I could sleep in a bit. The following week I found myself anticipating the mid-week day off as opposed to looking forward to a light jog that day.
As the lack-luster motivation continued into week two and into the first part of week three I found myself making up excuses that weren’t even remotely true. I was telling myself that I needed to take some time off from running because my knees and injured right foot needed it…BUT THEY DIDN’T HURT!!!
So, at the end of The Funk’s third week, I came to my senses when my knees and right foot actually spoke up – “We feel awesome they screamed,” as I walked up my Mom’s flight of stairs carrying my 38 lb. oldest son in one arm and my baby-29 lb. son in the other arm. It was then and there I realized something was up – The Funk had me, and had me good.
Getting Out Of The Funk, Step 2 – Acknowledging The Funk
Once you realize that you’re in The Funk the next step to getting out of The Funk is acknowledging what is causing The Funk.
This step can be much easier than Step 1. For one, you have already done the hard part of spotting the ever-elusive Ninja of The Funk. He can no longer enter your daily life unnoticed. You’re now locked on to The Funk’s presence and the next step is to pinpoint its cause.
Now, The Funk’s origin could be only one element or, and this is when it can be a bit complicated, many elements of your life. So, take a few minutes of your day (a few minutes in the morning right after waking up, one afternoon, or one night before going to bed) to try and find where The Funk is coming from. Sometimes I meditate for a bit, other times I write a list of what’s going on in my life, and yet other times it’s as easy as talking to my wife. Regardless of which tactic works for you, the point here is to make sure you find what does work for you.
And, once the recon work is complete, you’ll be ready to take action towards eliminating The Funk’s hold on you.
After realizing The Funk had a grip on me, I decided to go straight to my wife and see if she had noticed The Funk’s presence. Well, sure enough she had and she told me it seemed like work-related stress that had started week’s ago (but she didn’t tell me because she didn’t want to add to the stress…nice!). By the end of our conversation I came to the realization that she was right – I had stopped working out at the exact time that a number of my projects’ deadlines started to overlap.
Three weeks ago The Funk started to creep into my life and I started to let it control my life WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT WE DON’T WANT!
So, I learned what was causing The Funk and I was now ready to develop a plan of action to help control, if not, eliminate The Funk.
Getting Out Of The Funk, Step 3 – Creating A Plan Of Action
So, you know you’re in The Funk, you know what is causing The Funk, and now it’s time to eliminate The Funk.
Unfortunately it’s not always as easy as just washing your gym clothes. As stated above, The Funk comes in all shapes and sizes from Ninjas to Sumo Wrestlers and, this being the case, each type of Funk has its own Funk-elimination strategy which you also need to tailor-fit to yourself.
What I am trying to say is that we all alleviate stress via different means. Some people like to sing, others like to lift weights, others like running 100 miles, others like rock climbing, while others stick to the couch and watch hours of Breaking Bad. The point is that you need to find whatever works for you and WORK at making it part of your life again!
You see, The Funk is a vicious creature that grows stronger when we let it because it is soooooo easy to let it.
Why is this the case?
Well, think about it. Let’s say you like running 6 miles a day, or taking 2 hours of your day everyday to relax watching The Colbert Report, followed by The Wire, followed by Breaking Bad…well, it’s so easy to just NOT DO IT!
As John Mulaney says, “It’s so much easier not to do things than to do them, that you would do anything is total remarkable.”
But, as funny and as correct Mr. Mulaney may be, if we Just Do Nothing nothing will happen right?
WRONG – THE FUNK WILL HAPPEN!
So, don’t Just Do Nothing instead JUST DO….IT!(Sorry I couldn’t help myself…as if Nike needs my shameless plugs.)
In my personal case The Funk had me sleeping in and skipping, or cutting short, workouts and generally unhappy, unmotivated, and unwilling to do anything and everything really. What I realized was what I was actually “doing” was sleeping in and….well, not doing anything.
I was oversleeping and instead of devoting the overtime devoted to sleep to my projects’ deadlines, I was just wallowing in The Funk.
I was not working out not working on my projects nor spending time with my family. I found myself just compounding The Funk – I was not working out which was causing me more stress, not hanging out with my wife and kids which was making even more depressed, and I wasn’t utilizing my extra time to devote to my projects which compounded the anxiety of all the stresses in my life.
So, after a bit, I realized that I was completing my projects on time regardless of losing sleep over them…so why was I still depressed.
I started thinking…”if I could just sleep, or sit there in bed moping over the amount of Funk in my life, then I could just the same be working out…or hanging out with my family!
I mean it wasn’t like I was using the time saved from not working out or hanging with the kid-o’s towards my projects – I was finishing them on time anyways…and not working out was just compounding The Funk.
So, I finally put my foot down and told The Funk, to Go Funk itself…sorry, I couldn’t resist…and started taking back control of my life!
By Rolando Rodriguez