How to Pull Yourself out of a Funk

Last night on TV, I saw a speake say that she’s disturbed by how much depression she sees around her, these days.  Those of you who already know me know that I struggled with it for years.  It rarely happens to me at all, anymore, because I’ve learned how to protect myself from that dark place, and I’ve also learned how to “pull myself out of a funk”.  We don’t all necessarily get clinically depressed (thank God for that), but most people do go through times, particularly in the winter, when they don’t feel as good about life, and themselves, as they’d like to.

Today, I’m going to share with you my tips for lifting your mind, and body, out of a funky mood.  You can either use these to:  1) protect a positive mental state, and prevent yourself from sliding into negative mood states; or 2) use them to pull yourself out of a bad mood when you’re already there.

Here they are:

1) Get moving.  Studies have shown that regular exercise can have the same boosting effect on your mood as taking an antidepressant pill every day – and the side effects are much, much better!  To get regular exercise, all you really have to do is walk.  Walk to work, walk to your errands, go out for a stroll by yourself, with a friend or your other half.  You’ll be amazed at how much it helps, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing.  Just do it!

2) Eat lots of healthy food, regularly throughout the day.   Don’t go too long without eating, as this will make you grumpy (in my case, I get downright mean or weepy), and stay away from sugary junk foods that shoot up your blood sugar and then make it crash, taking your mood along with it.

3) Get enough sleep.  Research shows over and over  that not getting enough sleep can have a dramatic effect on your mood and your ability to cope with stress in your life

4) Spend time with friends or people who make you laugh.  I had dental work done yesterday, and was feeling sore and grumpy last night.  I didn’t want to do anything but lie on the couch.  If you’d asked me, I’d have said it would be impossible to feel good last night.  But then a stand-up comedy show came on TV, and within minutes I was laughing out loud.  Lots of times, a grumpy or moody, “I don’t want to do anything” state is only that – a temporary state.

5) Put on some music that you love.  It’s pretty hard to stay moody when something you love love love is playing in the background.  Pay attention to the music, friends, TV shows and activities that give you energy and make you feel fun and alive, and use them as your secret weapons when you’re feeling down.

6) Sit up straight.  When we’re feeling blue or down, we tend to slouch and shuffle around, looking mopey.  Stand up straight, walk tall and with purpose, remember to breathe, and most of all, smile, even if you don’t feel like it.  You can’t help but feel better – try it!

7) Avoid alcohol – though it gives you a temporary high, it’s actually a mood depressant, and a powerful one, at that.

8) Get out in the sun, whenever it comes out!  This is a major one for me, as I’m sensitive to SAD, or seasonal affective disorder.  Our brains need daylight, and sunlight, to keep producing those feel-good neurotransmitters.  When the sun comes out, go out for a walk – between the sunlight and the act of walking, it’s a one-two power punch for a good mood!

9) Pray – As you’ll often hear me mention, I’m Christian, and my faith is what gets me through life (not that my faith alone gets me through, obviously it’s God that’s doing the heavy lifting).  I have a daily routine of reading the Bible, meditating on what it says, thanking God for various things he has done in my life, and praying for myself and for others. Research has shown that these very activities can improve mental health, I find that just amazing and have found it to be true in my life.

If you do these things, you’ll feel better, and be far less likely to get “down”. An important note, though: If you’ve been feeling down for a while, and particularly if you’ve been having suicidal thoughts, you need to go get help, or at least an opinion, from a professional, in addition to following these tips.

Now forget that funk – put that funky music on, instead, and dance!

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  1. Yusef says:

    I’ve been kepineg track of moods for some time now, but only recently have I been trying to quantify them. (I should caveat, without a whole lot of success and satisfaction so far). I’ve been playing around with Moodstats, which uses a 1-10 daily self-rating scale. I’ve incorporated several insights just from playing with its current functions. For instance, it reaffirmed my inclination to track several things in addition to base moodstate, including stress + creativity (a very knowledge-worker relevant scale) as applied dimensions of mood, as well as several factors of impact. They have a whole list of possibilities (I don’t know if you’ve played with it at all) like alcohol consumption, daydreaming, social interaction, email activity. I noticed however that menstrual cycles, birth control and other hormonal states are curiously absent.Second, Moodstats works as a daily journal, which is somewhat shy of the frequency I feel is necessary for the kind of patterns I’m observing without quantification. There are a few more or less predictable times of day when I know I’ll have sudden reversals, spikes and dips that are really the kind of events I need to correlate with other factors. But that shows up as a muddled average on Moodstats, or else biased towards the state of the times of day when I have time to actually look at it. For instance, I usually have time to journal, log, play with widgets, in the later evening, which is one of my consistently lowest times of day emotionally.This made me think that for a service like this, a mobile ap might be more effective than a desktop widget. The potential value for me really is in correlations through tracking and visualization. I haven’t used it long enough to tell if their charts and graphs will really make sense to me right now they’re just erratic squiggles.I’m also a little baffled by the social aspect of the service. In theory, you can share and view other people’s data as well. My understanding is that it’s a little like the Mood Map on Patients-Like-Me, but with less gravitas, seriousness and specificity. I’m not sure what kind of community this is trying to attract, and whether I would want them to see my moods, or really care to look at theirs.

  2. Lynnie says:

    Another fabulous Blog and suggestions…well noted all of them and I will use them all when I get a blue mood.
    I have been using smiling, music, reading and laughing to lift the blues and will add the others you suggest when it happens…thank goodness not often.
    I have decided to go back to Latin Dance Lessons and to also see the good in every person and in every situation from now on.
    Thanks Dr Biali, you are the best 🙂

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