We all experience times of mild depression or melancholy that we popularly call “funks.” The key to handling these periods of low energy is to prepare ahead of time and address it rather than give in to it.
Funks often come during or immediately following periods when we’ve experienced something intense either physically or mentally.
As a pastor, I find that Monday is often when I’m most likely to experience the low-energy and mental fatigue of a funk. It’s wonderful to converse with church members before and after the services on Sunday, to lead worship as liturgist or preacher, and the many other things I’m privileged to do on an average Lord’s Day.
It’s also tiring.
On Monday morning, I’m often lacking the spring in my step that I have on Sunday. I’ve discovered that the key to a funk is to address it rather than give in to it. I find that very often at the low points, God uses very tangible means (actions, people, places) to help me recover and emerge into a deeper, fuller experience of fellowship with him.
Here are some things that I find helpful:
- Listen to uplifting music. Your taste will likely dictate here, but I find that Metallica or Rage Against the Machine is not particularly helpful in the low points of life. I often turn to Indelible Grace when I need to remember and recover a sense of God’s presence and covenant promises to me as outlined in Scripture.
- Do something mildly physical. Go for a walk. Clean off your desk. Take out the trash. If you’re feeling up to it, go to the gym and do your normal work out. Simply changing your position and exerting some energy can make a real difference in your outlook.
- Have a conversation with someone you like. Pick up the phone or walk down the hall and talk to a friend. Make sure it’s someone who’s probably in a better place than you emotionally. Just the act of connecting in conversation takes us outside of the morbid self-reflection (the negative inner monologue of: “why me?” “why did that happen?”) that often accompanies a funk.
- Drink plenty of water. Our bodies need water and the absence of it can often adversely effect our mood. The average person should drink half a gallon of water per day.
- Eat healthy, high protein food. Skip the fries, the chips, the comfort food, the alcohol.
- Get outside! Sunlight positively affects mood. Combine sunshine with mild physical exertion and your mood will likely be improved. Sit on the porch, sit in the back yard. If you’re at work: take your laptop outside for thirty minutes and continue working or pack a lunch and eat it in a local park.
- Identify what you control and what you don’t. Chances are that in a funk, there is some precipitating event, perhaps something unpleasant. I find it helpful to remind myself that there are things that have control over and things that I don’t control. In a funk we often feel like a passive spectator to our own lives, but the reality is that there are things that we can directly and positively affect–day by day, choice by choice. Name those things and then own them. Name the things you cannot control–often the actions of others–and let them go!
Our goal in life shouldn’t be to avoid funks, but to be prepared for when they hit. The only way to totally avoid melancholy, which is part of the human condition, is to self-medicate and remove yourself from being fully present in your own life. That’s an option that is self-destructive and that will drag others around you into chaos.
Choose instead to be intentional and to be prepared for the next time you find yourself in a funk.
How do you handle funks?