No matter how good life seems to be going for us, no one is immune to the occasional crappy day. Sometimes, a bad day turns into a bad week, and before we know it, we’ve gotten stuck in a funk that we just can’t get out of. So, how do you get yourself out of a funk?
- Recognize and Acknowledge That You’re in a Funk
- Check Your Brain’s Health
- Start Exercising Daily
- Take a Closer Look at Your Diet
- Find a New Hobby
- Reach Out to Old Friends… or Make Some New Ones
- Set a New Goal to Work Towards
- Explore Your City
- Take a Vacation
- Adopt a Pet
These methods are some of the best ways to hit “factory reset” on your brain’s mood button. Armed with a couple of these tricks, you should be able to pull yourself out of any funk within a day or two.
Let’s explore why each method is useful, and how you can implement them in your own life!
Recognize and Acknowledge That You’re in a Funk
The first step to get yourself out of a funk is the easiest.
All you’ve got to do is recognize that you’re in a funk, and acknowledge that fact.
I realize that this may seem trite, but there’s a good reason behind it. Studies show that putting feelings into words (a practice known as affect labeling) can actually help us to manage negative emotional experiences. That’s right, the effects of affect labeling can actually be observed through fMRI scans.
So, call it what it is: You’re in a funk. It’s temporary. And you’re going to pull yourself out of it.
Check Your Brain’s Health
There are a ton of reasons why we might be feeling like we’re in a funk.
Depression, anxiety, and mood disorders are all thought to be related to neurotransmitter imbalances. Pulling ourselves out of a funk is one thing, but if one of these underlying conditions is the cause, you’re going to want to know about it.
Serotonin, Dopamine, GABA, and Norepinephrine are the four main neurotransmitters associated with mood. Imbalances of any of these in our brain can absolutely wreak havoc on our mood. You should consider talking to a mental health professional about how you’re feeling, to help determine whether you might have any neurological imbalances you should know about.
Other factors, such as testosterone levels, can also play a role in our mood. This is a bit easier to detect, as your physician can have your testosterone levels checked quickly and easily with a simple blood draw.
While I always recommend seeking professional help when things get tough, it is my personal opinion that long-term drug prescriptions should be the last line of defense against mental health disorders. Sometimes they may be necessary, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you do not exhaust all of your other options first (e.g. the rest of this list).
Finally, and this should go without saying, if you are partying or self-medicating with recreational drugs or other illicit substances, this can be a likely culprit for any sort of funk. Start by cutting those negative habits out, as there’s no such thing as a “free ride” when it comes to drugs; your brain and mood will always pay the price afterward.
Start Exercising Daily
When considering how to get yourself out of a funk, getting regular exercise should be one of your first actionable steps.
I took a course on exercise psychology in college, and it was pretty obvious that the results of exercise on mood are astounding. Even more impressive, it doesn’t actually take as much exercise as you might think. As little as 10 minutes of exercise per day can make you happier.
If you don’t already exercise, consider adding a bit of it to your daily routine. You don’t really have to overthink it or hire an expensive personal trainer if you don’t want to. If lifting weights or running doesn’t appeal to you, you can get your exercise in the form of hiking, kayaking, or a competitive sport.
The key is that you get your heart rate elevated for at least 10 minutes. Doing this consistently on as daily a basis as possible should net you results and help to get you out of any funk. If you ultimately enjoy it and decide to exercise for longer – even better.
Take a Closer Look at Your Diet
Diet can play a huge role in your mood and mental health, so this is another thing to talk to your physician or a nutritionist about.
I won’t pretend to be an expert in nutrition, but I have definitely found that my brain works better, and my mood is better, when I am getting proper nutrition. If I have too much sugar in one sitting, or too many simple carbs, I’ll start to feel a creeping sense of general anxiety. If I’m low on magnesium (this has happened in the past when I’d forget to take my multivitamins) I will sometimes have minor heart palpitations.
Chances are, there is some aspect of your diet that you may be overlooking, and it could be putting you in a funk. Are you feeling blue? Unmotivated? Fatigued? In a “brain fog?”
Take a closer look at your diet. One place you might start is on our article about how to diet for anxiety. If this doesn’t help, you might just need to do some personal experimenting.
Find a New Hobby
One of the coolest pieces of advice I’ve ever heard is that a person should have 3 hobbies:
- One that makes you money
- One that makes you healthy
- One that makes you more creative
I could not agree with this advice more.
Sometimes the best way how to get yourself out of a funk is to just try something new. It’s possible that you’re in a funk because you just don’t have much to look forward to right now. You may think you enjoy playing videogames for 6 hours a day, but really, you’re just going through the motions.
Consider starting some new hobbies and see how they may enhance your life.
This is actually advice that I’ve given my own mother in the past. She decided to take up country line-dancing as a hobby and now it’s all she talks about. It’s been a great way for her to get out, meet new people, develop a skill, and get in shape. It gives her something to look forward to each week.
If you’re having trouble finding inspiration, here are a few random hobbies I can just rattle off the top of my head that are easy to get into:
- Playing an Instrument
- Martial Arts
- Building Cars
- Starting a Podcast
You get the idea. I could go on and on, but ultimately if you’re lacking inspiration, I’m sure that a quick web search will provide for you. Think hard about what you look forward to each week. If a hobby isn’t in there, you should definitely pick one up.
Reach Out to Old Friends… or Make Some New Ones
Don’t discount the value of other people when it comes to pulling yourself out of a funk.
Everyone is occasionally subjected to a bit of melancholic nostalgia when they think back to good years gone by. And we’re also all subject to feel lonely from time to time, even if we don’t consciously realize it.
When your mood goes down these types of rabbit holes, consider reaching out to your old friends, or just going out and making some new friends.
Reaching out to old friends is as easy as shooting a text or picking up the phone and giving someone a call. It can be someone you haven’t talked to in years. Every now and then, I’ll send or receive a text from an old friend from high school or college. Regardless of how long it’s been, it’s never unwelcomed; it’s almost always the highlight of my day (unless they’re asking for money!). Trust me, invite an old friend out for lunch or drinks and revel in the memories of the good old days. You’ll feel great about it, and maybe even reignite a strong connection.
Another route to take is to go out and meet new people. As you get older, it may seem a bit difficult to meet new people. You might assume that after the college days, people are not looking for new friends. I don’t think this could be more wrong. Take up a new hobby or group activity, and spark up a conversation with the person next to you. If they seem like someone you could hang out with, ask to exchange numbers. Most people like making new friends; put in the tiniest bit of effort and it’ll pay off.
Talking to old friends or meeting new ones is an excellent way to snap yourself out of a funk. Not only is this a source of conversation and the remedy to loneliness, it’s also a great way to explore new hobbies and opportunities for growth, as you’ll be exposed to the things that your friends enjoy.
Set a New Goal to Work Towards
There have been plenty of times in my life when I milled about, completely directionless.
When you don’t have a goal to work towards, it’s hard to find any source of motivation or drive within yourself. Days start to blend together as you engage in the same mindless habits over and over again.
Wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, play videogames, go to sleep. Yikes!
Find a reason to wake up in the morning; something that gets you excited to get out of bed. Set a realistic, measurable goal. Something you can achieve and chip away at day by day. Better yet, combine this goal with some of the other steps on the list.
You could make it a physical fitness goal to pair with your exercise, or set a financial goal to make a certain amount of money from a hobby you’ve monetized.
When we don’t have goals, we don’t have a sense of purpose in life. No sense of life purpose will almost always put us in a funk.
Explore Your City
Getting out of the house can give you a whole new perspective on things.
One of my favorite things to do to boost my mood is to just explore. I’ll walk from block to block aimlessly, discovering new shops, parks, and nature trails as I go.
As simple as this is, it's just so genuinely enjoyable. Not to mention the added meditative benefit of getting some time alone with your thoughts as you wander.
This feeling can be magnified by traveling, but if traveling isn’t in your budget right now, exploring your own city will do just fine.
You may think you’ve seen it all, but I promise you, you haven’t.
Grab the lunch special at that restaurant that’s two blocks down but you’ve never eaten at.
Have a drink at the new local bar that opened up last year.
Take the day to explore a museum you’ve never paid any mind to.
Exploration has always been a huge source of inspiration for me, and for most people, so I highly recommend it to anyone in a funk.
Take a Vacation
Maybe you’ve been reading the past couple of suggestions through gritted teeth, because you have been setting goals and working hard every single day.
Okay, fair enough. Sometimes you can be in a funk that has nothing to do with a lack of motivation or inspiration. In this case, ask yourself if, conversely, you’ve been working too hard.
If you grind away every single day of your life, you’re sure to become burnt out eventually. When this is the case, I recommend taking a break and stepping away from it all for a bit.
That’s what vacations are for.
Don’t think too much into it, just consider a place you’ve always wanted to go but have never been. Japan during cherry blossom season? Germany during Oktoberfest? Just a quiet beach somewhere? Give yourself a chance to refocus your perspective.
Take the days off, book the flight, and go. You owe it to yourself.
Frankly, I can’t think of a better way to hit the “reset button” and remember what you’re doing it all for, than to take some time out to yourself and just enjoy life.
Adopt a Pet
Alright, I won’t even pretend like this last one isn’t a stretch, but I know that some people could benefit from it, so it made the list.
Like we talked about in the section about reaching out to old friends and making new friends, loneliness can really have a habit of sneaking up on people. When it does, it will almost certainly put you in a funk without you realizing why.
If you’re lonely, or lacking a sense or purpose, few things can remedy this like either starting a family or adopting a pet. I definitely don’t want anyone rushing into starting a family because they read a blog post from me of all people, so I’ll lean into the pet thing here.
For animal lovers, having a pet can be an awesomely meaningful source of companionship and responsibility. If you’ve been in a funk lately, this may be just the source of inspiration you’ve been looking for. Better yet, if you get a pet like a dog, you can take them on runs with you to check off some of the other items on this list (exercise and meeting new people!).
Whatever you decide, I hope this list helps you to get yourself out of your funk.