How to Escape a Mental Health Funk

header image showing a line drawing of a desk with a book, calendar, and pencil cup, title reads "how to get out of a mental health funk"

Mental health affects us every second of every day, even if we don’t really understand it. From our good days to our bad, how our brains are processing the world around us shapes how we see it. The past 20+ months have been especially hard (thanks COVID-19) and it’s not surprising if you’ve found yourself in a “funk.” 

What is a funk, you ask? It’s just a period of time when you’re out of sorts. You don’t feel like yourself; you can’t seem to find joy in the things you used to love; boredom is just a constant occurrence every day. That’s what a funk is like for me. And they’re completely natural, especially in this fast-paced hustle culture that we’ve created in modern society. 

So how do we escape it? How do we get back to living and loving life? 

Take a Break

woman laying down on a small flight of concrete stairs, coffee in her hand, staring at the sky
Photo by JOYUMA on Unsplash

It all starts by taking things slow. You didn’t end up in this funk overnight. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to escape it overnight. Take a deep breath and give yourself some space. And then, take a break.

Taking a break looks different for every person. Maybe you take some time off of work and just veg out for a few days with 0 responsibilities. Maybe you make sure to set aside some time every single day to just exist. Maybe you just give yourself a change of scenery and take a real break at a coffee shop or a park for an hour or two. It doesn’t matter what your break looks like, just make sure it works for you.

Think About What Makes You Happy

Listen, I know that’s easier said than done. But when we know what makes us happy, we have a toolkit so we can get that feeling back again in the future. When you’re in a funk, knowing what brings you joy can be the thing that helps you claw your way out. 

You might want to think about this when you’re taking your break. You could also keep a notebook or a notes app on your phone so you can jot down the times you notice things are genuinely making you happy. Just try to be aware and notice when you’re happy and what caused it. Find one to three things that you can do or think about to bring you true, genuine happiness and keep them with you. 

Make a Plan

scrable blocks arranged to say "make" and "plan"
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Again: I know, easier said than done. But the thing about funks is they keep us in them because we feel aimless. Give yourself something to aim for and you’re on your way up and out! And I have good news for you: you are already well on your way to making a plan just by completing the previous two items on the list! 

When it comes down to it, my greatest recommendation is to just keep moving forward. Give yourself easy to accomplish daily tasks or short-term goals that you can work toward. Make sure you’re rewarding yourself appropriately every time you complete one of those tasks or goals. Positive reinforcement is important and will help you stay on the plan! 

For me, a deadline really helps me to stay on track and get out of a funk faster. Be forgiving and allow yourself more time than you think you’ll need. It’s better to finish early than feel like you’re being rushed toward something you might not be ready for!

Anytime you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, you can use one of your happiness cues for that good ole hit of dopamine! Maybe you’re really feeling stuck, in which case starting back at number one and taking a break could be a good choice for you.

Just Do It

animated gif of Shia lebouf saying "just do it"
Image from Giphy

In the end, the only thing that’s going to get you out of a funk is actively moving forward and climbing out. What’s that physics saying? An object at rest will stay at rest while an object in motion will stay in motion. 

The same principle can be applied here.

If you’re in a funk and do nothing, you’re going to stay there and it could possibly get worse. And I know none of us want that for ourselves or our loved ones.

Just by taking that first step to give yourself a break and start the process, you are already moving forward and making progress for yourself. 

I know it can be scary when you’re trapped in a funk. It can feel like you’re alone and like everyone is leaving you behind. But I want you to know, without a doubt, that you are not alone in this. We all go through this and we all struggle to escape it. But we are powerful, incredible creatures, and we can do it once we put our minds to it. 

If you notice any of your friends are acting a bit off, I urge you to reach out to them and offer a helping hand if you’re able. Maybe it’s an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on, or some resources to help them out. 

If you yourself are in a funk right now and can’t seem to get out, I am more than happy to try and help! I am not a mental health professional but I am more than happy to chat with you on Twitter or share some resources that could help you. 

Leave a Comment