Getting out of a funk

I can not believe we are on the first day of August. I am sure I say this every month but where has the last month gone? We are over half way through the year already.


Today I wanted to talk about being in a 'funk' and I don't mean the groovy type.


What I'm referring to is the general malaise, lack of enthusiasm or moodiness we are all prone to from time to time.


Being in a funk and getting out of it can be tricky to achieve. Sometimes we don't even realise we are in one. We may feel irrationally irritable and grumpy and stressed out. Sometimes this lasts a few hours and other times (if we don't catch it) a few days.


There are so many factors that contribute to our mood and I am not an expert but for me a negative mood usually boils down to a few things. These include stress, work, finances, hormones, worrying about the little things or what others think.


Before I get started on what works for me I want to say that I am not referring to depression or mental illness here. That is something I am not qualified to talk about. If you are worried about your mental health you should always seek medical advice.


That said, I am more conscious than ever of my mindset being a mum and the fact my mood impacts on my little people, as well as those around me. It's often been said that we are the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with (Jim Rohn) and I certainly wouldn't want my kids to replicate my bad moods.


Over the years I've learned a few techniques to help shift my mood when it's stuck on grumpy dial. I was thinking about what I do to  help myself earlier this week when I was attempting to cheer my son up. The things I offered him as solutions were the same things I try myself, which I've attempted to summarise below. The 6 things below are things I've picked up from various personal development books and training I've taken in part in over the years.


1. Listen to music

It has been shown in various studies that listening to music you enjoy may increase the release of pleasure-causing substances in the brain like norepinephrine and melatonin. It may also decrease stress-causing hormone production in the body. Music has been shown to reduce stress & anxiety, create a positive mood, increase energy and boost self confidence.


"Bright, cheerful music can make people of all ages feel happy, energetic, and alert, and music even has a role in lifting the mood of people with depressive illnesses".


I use music to change my mood and increase my energy. If I have been sitting still for a while and need to go and meet someone, call someone about a work related matter, or speak in public, I listen to upbeat music that I like. At the moment I love the song "High Hopes" and instantly feel a shift in my mood when it plays.


I often suggest music when my son isn't his usual cheery self or if he is upset or complaining a lot. After we have talked about the problem, I suggest we find some good tunes he'd like to listen to. It's incredible how quickly someone's mood can change when they find music they enjoy and have a wee dance.


2. Read something that inspires you

I love reading and always have at least one book on the go. I usually read in the morning if I can grab ten minutes to myself but I also use reading as a tool for inspiration.


If I'm feeling uninspired I open a personal development book and read a few pages. Sometimes a few lines is enough, other times I need to read a chapter. This takes me away from my current thoughts and helps me see the bigger picture. At the moment I'm reading two books. One is by Brendan Burchard called High Performance Habits and the other is about social media and it's called Hashtag Authentic.


3. Watch a motivational video

Something that works in a similar way to reading for me is watching or listening to something positive or inspiring. This could be someone's story of how they succeeded or overcame obstacles or a video about a concept or idea I am interested in.


It has to be short (less than 5 minutes) because I don't get long to focus with two kids around. If you go on YouTube and search "motivational video", this will bring up a lot of options. One of my favourite uplifting videos is with Tony Robbins.


In this video he is sharing what is referred to as his 'emotional flood' exercise. You can check it out here. It takes you through the moments in your life you are truly grateful for and gets you to think about future moments too.


4. Use positive affirmations

Affirmations are positive statements, written (or uttered) in the present, about ourselves, our abilities or what we want to happen. 


Negative self-talk is something that brings us down. It is when we pay more attention to our negative thoughts and let them go wild.


Our brains are shaped by our thoughts and emotions and what we focus on grows. Therefore, when we focus on negative thoughts such as 'I am not clever enough, I said the wrong thing in X situation, that person doesn't like me or I am a bad wife or mum'  we get more and more of these types of thoughts.


We are all subject to these at some point but we can change them. We can do this by consciously switching what we tell ourselves to something positive such as "I am deserving of success, happiness and abundance".


I used to be a naturally negative thinker. I probably still am when I allow my chimp to take control and flood my mind with negativity but after years of practicing positive affirmations I can honestly say that 90% of the time I look for the positive in every situation and assume good things will happen.


One of my favourite affirmations I use is, "I am a good person and I am doing my best today". If I have been thinking negatively about myself or my abilities I repeat this over and over as I get ready in the morning or go about my day.  It helps shift negative thoughts about not doing enough or not being enough.


When I am running and need to increase my mental energy I repeat the affirmation "my mind is strong and my body is made for this run". I say this when I am running up hills or near the end of a run or when I feel like I want to stop.


If you are unsure what sort of things to say, check out this post which has ten powerful affirmations to boost your moood.


5. Focus on breathing

This is a very simple but underrated activity. Often when we are stressed we forget to breath properly and take short shallow breaths.


I find that stopping where I am and taking 4 or 5 really deep breaths in and breathing slowly out helps shift tension. It grounds me and reminds me what I am doing. This also helps to quiet my mind and stop the whirring thoughts. I often use this when I am switching situations i.e. going from work to home or from home to work.


It's not always easy to think of stopping what you're doing in the heat of the moment but it definitely helps shift focus away from negative or stressful thoughts.


6. Move your body

This is probably my favourite activity for shifting a bad mood. It's not always possible with two kids but wherever I can I use exercise to gain clarity and alleviate stress.


According to the NHS website "Physical activity can help people with mild depression. Evidence shows it can also help protect people against anxiety."


Running is my favourite type of exercise but yours might be walking, yoga, swimming or anything else you enjoy. If you don't like exercise go for a walk or dance around the room. It doesn't matter what you do but movement is key.


As I mentiioned above, these are the activities I have adopted after years of trying different things and they really work for me.


Have you tried any of these or do you have any tried and tested methods to get out of a 'funk'?

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