Bob paced back and forth around his small cubicle space. Frustrated about feeling sad, and sad because he was still feeling frustrated, his work day seemed to be falling apart, and it was only 9:30 a.m.
“What is this funk all about?” he asked himself.
The term “funk” generally means a low-grade depression (i.e. not serious) that comes from a sense of pessimism, a feeling of inadequacy, ruminating on a past negative event, or even from the darker days associated with winter in the northern hemisphere.
We all experience that funky feeling from time to time. It is a flowing mood, driven by the science associated with neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. And while I’m a big advocate of increasing self-awareness, sometimes trying to understand a funk simply makes it worse, as Bob was quickly discovering.
Instead, just being aware of the funk and not examining or judging it, is the best first step.
Action – Once you’ve accepted your funk, here are a few things that could help shift your perspective (if you want to):
- Positive reminiscing – Something happening in the not too distant past that made you laugh, smile or feel all warm inside. What was it? Sit with it for several minutes and allow yourself to feel those emotions again. Need a prompt? Flip through the pictures on your cellphone. We tend to take pictures of things that make us happy.
- Immerse yourself in nature for a few minutes – Even the biggest homebody will find some joy in nature. Whether it is taking a brisk walk in the fresh winter air or gazing down from a 27th floor office window, purposefully notice nature in all her glory. Colors, animals, plants, trees – all these things will calm your mind if you pay attention to them.
- Connect with someone – Pick up the phone or walk down the hall and chat with someone. Don’t use the time to bitch about how you feel but intentionally direct the conversation to uplifting or positive things. Who knows – you might be helping them out of a funk too.
There is no need to overthink most funks. Of course, if it hangs on for quite some time, or starts to disrupt your sleep, health or relationships, then it is time to discuss it with your doctor. In the meantime, don’t judge it (which will likely make it worse).
Just accept the fluidity of your feelings and make simple shifts of focus or attention.