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When was the last time you got into a funk?
How long did it take for you to get there?
How long till you to realized you were actually in one?
What did you do to get out of it?
These are all important questions, however, I think it is the last of them which is the most important one to address.
It’s a crappy feeling to be in a “funk”. You have that looming sense of something being off. Your motivation has been slowly draining, but, it’s doing so at a dripping pace; giving you just enough to keep you trucking along. It’s a feeling that is very present, but not debilitating. It’s often easy to get comfortable with this state and we end up choosing to live with it – even though we may not consciously realize we have even made this decision.
The important thing is not to worry about how often you get into these states, or how long it took you to get into them. What matters is your ability to recognize their existence and get out of them as quickly as possible.
For me, the recognition of a funk state often comes when I ask myself, “what am I doing with my life?”, just a few too many days in a row.
I start to feel off and realize that I have spent way too long going through the motions without any true progress.
Sure I may have been moving, but was I moving towards something that mattered?
I may not have an answer to that questions right away, but what I do have are some daily practices that I find help me gather my thoughts so I can move in a direction that I will feel good about.
My 8 Habits for Getting Out of a Funk
1) Cold Showers
Okay, I know this one sounds a little crazy. But honestly, it’s such a simple adjustment that will massively improve your overall health and well-being. Cold showers have been scientifically proven to do a number of things, including:
- Increase blood circulation
- Reduce depression
- Revitalize skin and hair
- Strengthen your immune system
- Increase testosterone levels
- Increased fertility
- Boost overall well-being and energy levels
- Toughen you up (not scientifically backed, but I think it’s true)
I started taking cold showers about a month ago and I’m still loving it. Some people go strictly cold the entire way, but that’s taking it a little too far. I prefer a method taught by Wim Hof “The Iceman”. I do my regular shower routine with warm water. Not crazy hot, but just warm enough. I then finish it off with a 30-45 second cold shower. Making sure I do at least one full circle covering my whole body. For beginners, I would suggest starting out at 15 seconds and then work your way up.
Try it tomorrow. If you don’t walk out of that shower feeling like a million bucks, I promise to never bring it up again.
New ideas, thought-provoking questions, and inspirational stories can all easily be attained from just a quick 20-minute read. I find it’s best to read on a regular basis, but even pulling short passages from Stoic philosophy can be enough to help realign your thoughts. Check out Seneca brought to you by Tim Ferris.
The hardest part about reading, especially for those who are not typically inclined to do so; is that when we have the choice between reading or watching TV, we are far more inclined to reach for the remote or sign into Netflix. And I can sympathize with that, I’ve been there before. But as someone who has experienced both sides, I can say this: I have never regretted reading a book in my entire life, but I have wasted more than a few evenings watching TV shows which brought me zero entertainment or fulfillment.
Need a reason to choose reading? Here are 6:
- Mental Stimulation
- Stress Reduction
- Improved Vocabulary
- Increased Memory
- Better Writing Skills.
Books on my shelf right now:
This is a big one for me.
And the very reason I am writing this post is because I’m currently trying to get out of a funk. It doesn’t always have to be public writing either. A daily journal or a private blog is great. Who knows you may even have something people will want to read. If so, I suggest an open blogging site like Medium.
Whatever we use, just simply writing is a perfect way to get our thoughts out of our heads so we can see them from an objective standpoint. Often by writing our confusing thoughts and personal problems out on paper, we begin to realize how trivial they actually are and that they do not truly affect our well-being.
Looking for a simple, yet effective way to journal? Check out The 5-Minute Journal.
If you are an athlete right now, just skip this one — your funk will obviously not be solved by more exercise.
As a former athlete, exercise has now become my escape. It gives me joy and brings me back to a state of comfort.
If you can join some sort of team sport with a few friends, that would be ideal. But if that’s not possible, going to the gym and banging around a few weights for an hour, can definitely help as a form of rejuvenation. By exercising, your body actually creates chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. They also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.
Pro tip: Listen to some motivational speeches while working out, those always get me jacked up on life.
For me working out essentially has become a form a meditation. I focus on my breath and the movements of my body. My mind is in one place and nowhere else. After I’m finished, I feel way more motivated to tackle my bigger problems.
On that note, I also find having a daily meditation practice to be an amazing way to gain clarity, focus, perspective, and above all else, awareness. We spend so much time on wasteful thinking. Always worrying about the past and the future. And with that we tend to be focusing the errors we’ve made or the ones we may encounter. Awareness of the present and the ability to let thoughts pass is a skill that takes practice. But it’s one that can help in many ways. It reduces stress, impatience, and anxiety, while at the same time improving focus, creativity, and overall happiness with life. For me, even after almost a year of meditation I still struggle with things like anxiety or impatience, but I am also aware that these are emotions I have spent almost my whole life developing. So it is going to take almost just as long to push them away.
Not sure how to get started? Check out: headspace.com
6) Setting Small Goals
I hear a lot of people talking about their big life goals that are full of success, fame, glory, and wealth. January tends to be littered with these statements. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having these larger goals. However, the problem arises when we focus solely on this end result and nothing else. By doing so we take away from the importance of the steps required to get us there. We lose track of the daily actions that define our lives.
Consider setting smaller incremental goals/actions that lead to the final big goal. By creating daily, weekly, and monthly goals we give ourselves tasks that are more reasonable and achievable. Despite their smaller stature, these tiny steps all build towards the ultimate goal; and with the frequent accomplishment of each one, we build up more momentum and motivation to keep us going. Angela Duckworth discusses this idea in her book Grit. In the illustration below we see what is referred to as the ‘Goal Hierarchy’. At the top, there is one big goal. But below that, we see different levels of goals. Each one bigger than those below it. But at the very bottom, we see small actions. These are our daily routines and characteristics that define our everyday lives. We may not give them much thought, but they are ultimately what defines each day. It’s the little choices like a good night’s sleep vs. staying up late, reading a book vs. scrolling Instagram, working out vs. rewatching Lost for the fourth time. All of these decisions may seem small but the determine what comes next.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your big goal is to help your university basketball team win a national championship. Well in order to do that, you need to make it to playoffs, which means you need to win enough games in the regular season. And that only happens if your team practices really hard. But you can only get better by practicing every day, and practicing every day takes a lot of energy. The best way to get more energy is from eating healthy and getting a proper amount of sleep. You also need to make sure you are getting stronger. So you have to hit the weights at least 2-3 times per week. On top of that, you need to maintain at least 2.5 GPA in order to stay academically eligible for the team. Which means you need to study for your next midterm, and that ultimately means you can’t spend the whole tonight playing video games or watching a movie. This very first choice, may not seem like a big deal at the moment, but if you make enough bad choices, you will evidently throw off the entire hierarchy.
How do you decide what matters? I’ll have to save that for another article.
What I use for daily goals: Momentum Chrome Extension
7) Talking Openly With Someone
Some of my fastest funk turn around’s have come from a simple conversation. Taking the time to chat with a friend or a mentor, or even giving someone else advice, can be a catalyst for instant change. We are social creatures who are not meant for live’s of solitude. Connecting with another person who has similar or completely different struggles gives us a new perspective on our own situation and allows both of us to grow. We often assume we are the only ones dealing with certain issues and this causes us to keep it trapped inside. It isn’t until we open up and share, that we begin to realize this world isn’t the lonely place we can often make it out to be. We are not tiny little islands separated by massive oceans. We are all part of one giant land mass. How we interact with the world around us can have a far greater impact than we realize. But we first have to reach out and connect with those right beside us.
If you truly don’t have anyone to talk to. Please shoot me an email. We can set up a time to chat and I will be there to talk about whatever you’d like. Contact Me Over Here.
I currently live in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language. I have my fiancee here but she isn’t always around. Evidently, I don’t always have someone to talk to. In lieu of that, I have podcasts. Many podcasts involve interviews with highly acclaimed performers, authors, athletes, business folk, and generally smart people. The amount of random wisdom and inspiration I have received from podcasts is countless and well worth the price of admission. Oh and that’s the best part, they’re free! The only cost is your time, and trust me, it’s worth it.
My podcast recommendations: Tim Ferriss Show, James Altucher Show, Finding Mastery, Love Your Work, Lewis Howes: School of Greatness, Hardcore History.
I wish I could confidently say that these practices are guaranteed to get you out of a funk. But I can’t. They are simply the ones that have worked for me in my current circumstances.
What I can say with confidence is this: If you are in a state of funk, the longer you stay there, the harder it will be to get out. It’s important to recognize how you got there, but don’t dwell on it. Try something to get out, and fight like crazy to never go back.