Ever find yourself in a funk? I don’t mean the grooving-to-jazzy-tunes-with-a-heavy-bassline kind of funk. I’m talking about the other, not-so-cool, funk. The funk I’m talking about sees you feeling sad, down in spirits. It’s not a long-term feeling, but it sure as hell feels like it at the time. This kind of funk usually creeps in slowly, until you realise you’ve been operating at a subprime level.
The funk can take many forms. You stop putting effort into the outfits that used to bring you joy. Maybe you gravitate towards unhealthy foods instead of the veggies you love. Mornings become that much more difficult to handle.
My funks usually result from neglecting the healthy habits I know better than to ignore. But sometimes life gets in the way and we fall off track. It happens to everybody.
The good news is that we can always hit pause, slow down and rewind. It’s not easy, but we do have the power to slow down and reset. Here are the best fixes I’ve found for when I’m feeling less than fine:
The Funk: overeating
Whether it’s Thanksgiving dinner, an indulgent trip to Paris, or the aftermath of a two-week binge fest, overeating can leave the slightest of us feeling weighed down. The same feeling can also result from overdoing-it on sugary and over-processed foods.
Food is fuel and we want our consumption to be as clean-burning as possible. Poor nutrition and food sensitivities can lead to symptoms of brain fog. If you’ve ever felt unmotivated after ingesting deep-fried food or drained of energy after a sugar high, you’ll be familiar with the concept of brain fog.
The Fix: fasting
Intermittent fasting is something I’ve practiced on-and-off for some years now. I’ve also experimented with full-on 24-hour fasts. Before you get all freaked about about the health implications of (God forbid) skipping a meal, let me point out the health benefits of fasting. A strategic restriction of calories not only assists with weight management, but can help your brain ward of neurodegenerative diseases.
In my experience, the best way to dial my eating back to a healthy level is to stop and pause for a bit. When I practice intermittent fasting, I consume all my calories for the day within an eight-hour window (typically 12-8PM). Getting back to that “hunger” feeling returns me to a more focused mental state. By creating a time barrier between me and food, I find myself subconsciously selecting healthier options. Another bonus is the exceedingly productive mornings I tend to have while in a fasted state.
The Funk: an argument with your significant other
Even supercouples like Beyoncé and Jay Z argue. When your heart is entangled with another, a rift is a difficult affair. It’s hard to concentrate when your mind keeps replaying the events of an argument. This is especially true if feelings were hurt.
The Fix: walk it out
One thing that works well for me and my partner is “taking it to the streets.” I don’t mean airing out our dirty laundry. I’m talking about going for a walk.
Walking helps boost blood flow to the brain which gets the creative juices flowing. By walking together, you might find a new perspective on your point of disagreement. Still too aggravated to talk? A shared walk in silence is also beneficial.
The Funk: comparisonitis
Ah social media, our generation’s double-edged sword. What serves as a platform for business and expression for some, can be a major source of woe for others. When we fail to remember that social media highlights exactly that, highlights, we can get lost in a whirlwind of inadequacy self-talk.
It’s so easy to unplug by reaching for our phones and mindlessly scrolling. Have a spare 10 minutes? Open Instagram and watch stories from your favourite influencers. This is fine if media is used consciously as a source of inspiration. It becomes a problem when we start to doubt our own worth against what we perceive others’ to be.
The Fix: unplug
Turn it off! Become the master of your pocket device by building boundaries around your usage patterns. As a start, I recommend avoiding social media at least one hour before bedtime. Enabling airplane mode overnight can also help you steer clear of reactive notifications when you first wake up.
Apps like Space and Offtime can be used to help track and manage your media usage patterns. I’m also experimenting with screen-free and social-media-free Saturdays as a weekly reset. Ultimately, if the call of the ‘gram is too strong to ignore, it might be time to consider deleting the app altogether.
The Funk: negative self-talk
A cousin of comparisonitis, we can also get caught in a cycle of negative self-talk. When you look in the mirror and find imperfections instead of your unique smile, you don’t do yourself any favours. Equally poisonous is feeding yourself the belief that you’ll fail, you’re unlucky, you’re…you get my point.
Mindset is a powerful tool to frame our daily outlook. We need to feed ourselves positive thoughts so that we can feel good.
The Fix: self care
These days, “self care” is a buzzword that’s misused to sell us things we probably don’t need. But the concept behind the word still rings true: care for yourself. While for some this may mean heading out to get a massage, self care doesn’t by definition need to cost a thing. Dancing, journaling and giving yourself an at-home pedicure are all simple (and free!) ways to feed yourself with love.
Block out time in your schedule to shower yourself with positive mental nourishment. The effect on your self-talk will be noticeable.
Find Your Fix
When we’re in the middle of a funk, it’s normal to feel like things will never get better. As soon as you recognise a negative spell, you can start working towards feeling better. The above fixes are what works well for me, but everyone’s different. Be willing to shake things up and try something new. It might be exactly what you need.