June 17, 2020

Not Feeling Like Yourself Lately? How to Get Out of a Funk

Connecting with others, going on a walk or focusing on sleep quality can help more than you think

Dancing in the kitchen

At some point or another, we’ve all found ourselves at a place in our lives where we’ve felt worn out, bored, stagnant or just plain blah.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

You might feel like you’re just going through the motions of life, doing the same things over and over again. It can start to feel like the days all blend together.

Maybe you feel like there’s nothing to look forward to or like you’re running in place while everyone else is moving forward. Or maybe you can’t pinpoint what exactly is wrong, but something just feels … off.

Psychotherapist Amy Brodsky, LISW-S, offers assurance and practical advice to help dig yourself out of a funk.

Are you in a funk?

A slump, rut, funk or general feeling of weirdness is a fairly short-lived bad day or bad couple of days, says Brodsky.

Sometimes our slumps can be reactions to something that happened to us. Maybe you’re feeling lonely during a trip away from your loved ones or upset because you were passed up for a promotion at work. Perhaps you’re feeling like all your friends are getting married while you’re still single, or it could be that a toxic friendship is starting to take a toll on you. Other times there doesn’t seem to be anything specific that triggered the funk, which can be frustrating and confusing.

“When you can’t pinpoint or identify a reason for why you’re feeling the way that you are, try talking to someone,” says Brodsky. “Oftentimes, getting an outsider’s perspective can give you a better viewpoint of what’s really going on.”

How to help yourself out of a funk

Now that you know you’re in a funk, you probably want to know how to get yourself out of it. The main thing to remember is to be patient with yourself. Nobody likes stewing in a bad mood for too long, but trying to rush yourself out of it won’t do any good either. 

Instead, here are some ways to get out of a funk and start feeling like yourself again:

Embrace the funk

First and foremost – don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling blue. Slumps happen from time to time and they can affect anyone. Most funks hit people for a couple of days before the clouds lift and you feel like yourself again.

“Going through a funk or rut is extremely common,” assures Brodsky. “It happens to everyone now and again and there are no hard or fast rules to getting through it. Everyone is different, so you’ll need to adjust and learn what works best for you.”

Digging yourself out of a funk begins as an inside job. Sure, some resources and people can help you, but ultimately one of the first things to do is to look within.

Advertisement

“Don’t be afraid to take some time to just sit with your feelings – they won’t harm you,” says Brodsky. “The good news is that if you give yourself time and permission to feel what you’re feeling or if you can name the emotion, it can help you start to move past it.”

“Feelings are like waves, they ebb and flow just like the waves in the ocean. When we fight a wave, it will often knock or pull us down, but if we go with it and accept it, it will move us some, but then deposit us back or close to where we began – none the worse for wear.”

So go ahead and watch that sad movie or listen to a sad song. It’s perfectly OK to nurture yourself for a few days while you work through whatever it is that you’re feeling. Take the time to feel cranky, sad, frustrated or just plain weird. Doing so doesn’t mean that you’re weak, it means that you’re human and you’re acknowledging yourself.

Show yourself compassion

Another way to help you work through a hard time is to show yourself some self-compassion. Consider talking to yourself as if you were a friend. Often times we’re harsh or impatient with ourselves when we’re feeling sad or down, but if a friend came to us going through something similar, we’d show them kindness and understanding. We’d assure our friends that everything is going to be OK and we’d remind them that they’re a good person and that this won’t last forever. So go ahead and show yourself that same grace and gentleness.

Connect with others

As humans, we’re social animals. We need some degree of interaction with others to feel our best. You don’t have to do a lot all at once, either. If going to a party or busy social event feels like too much, there are other ways to make yourself feel connected, without depleting your social battery.

Whether it’s a phone call to a friend, meeting your parents for dinner or simply waving to your neighbor – connecting with others helps us feel more fulfilled.

Get moving

It’s important for our mental and physical health to move our bodies, but it doesn’t mean you have to put yourself through the most intense and vigorous workout of your life. Movement of any kind is beneficial for many reasons, but can certainly help pull you out of a funk. It could mean dancing to the radio while you make dinner, taking a yoga class or playing with the dog on the floor. Even going for a brisk walk around your neighborhood can make a world of a difference.

Fuel your body

Our mood and belly are connected, so it’s important to eat whole foods and watch our sugar intake, especially when we’re going through a hard time. It’s also wise not to reach for quick fixes like alcohol to feel better. Alcohol is a depressant, which could negatively impact your mood days after consuming it.

Focus on good sleep

Sleep isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Poor sleep negatively affects our health in so many ways, from low energy to forgetfulness and weight gain. Lack of sleep is serious and you should consider it a priority, especially when you’re not quite feeling like yourself. Try calming yourself down before bed by practicing sleep meditation, yoga or other practices that soothe you to sleep.

On the flip side, too much sleep — especially when it’s not good quality – can cause issues as well. If your funk is causing you to lay in bed and you feel unable to start the day, try taking small steps to get yourself moving. This could look like engaging in some morning stretches while still lying down, practicing deep breathing and just taking a moment to feel present in your body.

Manage your exposure to social media and news

We’re bombarded with 24/7 news coverage and constant access to social media. While this can be helpful and informative at times, it can become overwhelming and either cause (or magnify) your mental funk.

Advertisement

Social media can cause you to develop comparison issues when observing others and what they have and what you perceive that you don’t. Being glued to the news and current events can put you in a spiral where the information is less productive and more harmful.

Brodsky recommends limiting watching news media to no more than twice a day, for 15 to 30 minutes.

Other self-care practices for getting out of a funk

Sometimes, distractions and self-care can be the best ways to help us work through ruts. And while you’ll want to try to work through your emotions, there are a few ways to speed up the process so you can start feeling like yourself again:

  • Take a break from your own thoughts. If you haven’t downloaded a mindfulness app yet, going through a rut is the perfect time to try one. There are great resources available to practice meditation or guided imagery. Pausing your thoughts with meditation is like a mini vacation for your brain, says Brodsky. Often times we experience anxiety when we’re worrying too much about the future and we feel depression when we’re too concerned about what happened in the past. Focusing on the here and now can help you feel more at peace — and is easier to do when we quiet our minds through meditation.
  • Create something. Some people aren’t very verbal, so when they feel down, it’s hard to communicate. If you’re experiencing this, focus on creating something instead. Try journaling or starting a daily gratitude list. Or honor your feelings through painting, drawing or gardening. Look for a new class to take online or find a recipe that you’ve been meaning to make. Creating something engages our brain and helps us feel productive.
  • Clean or rearrange your surroundings. Something must be said about the feeling you get after a vigorous cleaning session! Vacuum your room, tidy up or completely overhaul your living room and rearrange the furniture. The change and refresh might be the jolt you’re looking for to snap you out of your funk.
  • Create a playlist. Brodsky recommends creating a playlist of 10 to 13 songs that uplift your mood. This usually comes out to about an hour’s worth of music and you can turn to this playlist whenever you’re feeling down.
  • Take some time off work. A day or two off work might be your perfect reset when it comes to getting out of a rut. So if you think turning on your out-of-office and silencing the notifications will help – by all means do it! But sometimes when people are going through a funk or hard time, work is a good distraction and can actually make them feel better and more productive. This is another reason why getting out of a funk isn’t a one-size-fits-all prescription. Not everyone copes the same. Listen to your gut when deciding whether some time away from the office might do you some good.
  • Get outside in nature. The sights, sounds and smells of the woods can help our brains stop anticipating or worrying. At the very least, step outside for a few minutes to enjoy the fresh air.
  • Plan a trip. The idea of anticipating an upcoming trip or event can help inspire you. Plan a weekend away with friends, take a drive to visit family or talk to your boss about attending a work conference.
  • Pamper yourself. Treating yourself doesn’t need to just be reserved for spa days, vacations or the summertime. Sometimes little things like scheduling a haircut, getting a massage or even engaging in your favorite hobby or having your favorite dessert can help turn your funk around.

When to reach out for help

Most funks are short-lived. A couple of bad days here and there is really nothing to be too concerned about, says Brodsky. When the bad days or negative feelings seem to be lasting longer and longer, you might want to take some additional steps.

A telltale sign that you might be dealing with something more serious than a funk is whether you still have the ability to experience breakthrough moments of joy. You might feel sad, but you find that talking to a friend or grabbing a coffee at your favorite cafe helps to perk you up. Try to identify moments of your day where you feel OK and take note of how long it lasts. If you find that you are unable to feel happy or experience joy at all, you are likely dealing with more than a funk.

“When we’re dealing with clinical depression, at times the person is not able to identify happy moments from their past,” explains Brodsky. “It’s when you think that you’ve felt this way forever and it’s starting to really impact how you function or your obligations.”

Clinical depression looks different on everyone, but hallmark signs include changes in appetite, feeling tired or exhausted all the time, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed or even physical pain or achiness.

If you’re not experiencing any little joys or breakthrough moments of happiness, it might be time to reach out for support. A mental health expert can help you work through and manage your feelings.

Related Articles

person sitting in a growing flower, as they're watering the pot from above
February 9, 2024
Self-Love: Why It’s Important and What You Can Do To Love Yourself

Like being your own best friend in times of trouble, self-love is an act of self-preservation

person standing on exclamation point holding up a No. 1 finger, wearing cape and mask in front of crowd
February 1, 2024
How To Make the Most of Your ‘Villain Era’

It’s not about embracing your dark side — it’s about showing up for yourself

Silhouette of person turned away from group of people talking
January 23, 2024
How the Grey Rock Method Can Protect You From Abusive People and Toxic Interactions

Like a boring ol’ grey rock, the goal is to be unresponsive and uninteresting to dissuade a harmful situation

person looking at reflection in hand-held mirror
January 22, 2024
9 Signs You’re Dealing With a ‘Narcissist’ (and Why That’s the Wrong Word to Use)

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition, not an insult

Female sitting on couch staring blankly ahead, with male next to her on couch staring at her
January 19, 2024
The Silent Treatment: Causes and Coping

Whether this behavior is abusive depends on the person doing it and their motivation

Person talking with therapist in a private setting
January 4, 2024
Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Put Your Mental Health on the Backburner

You may not always notice it, but your mental health has just as big of an impact on your well-being as your physical health

female lying on yoga mat stretching
January 3, 2024
How Restorative Yoga Can Nurture Your Mind, Body and Spirit

This mindful practice is designed to give you mental and physical relaxation

male in a yoga pose in living room
January 1, 2024
Yoga vs. Pilates: The Differences Between Two Great Exercises

Both practices are worth exploring and offer amazing health benefits

Trending Topics

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try

Exercise and diet over three months is hard to accomplish.
Everything You Need To Know About the 75 Hard Challenge

Following five critical rules daily for 75 days may not be sustainable

Person in foreground standing in front of many presents with person in background holding gift bags.
What Is Love Bombing?

This form of psychological and emotional abuse is often disguised as excessive flattery

Ad