Ah, the funk. Life is weird.
Sometimes it is magnificent; sometimes we feel like we are soaring, coasting out along the windswept crest of a towering peak, standing fully upright and embracing the world with limitless energy, indefatigable hope, and inextinguishable zest. Sometimes we are unstoppable. And sometimes we are not.
Sometimes we slip and suddenly realize that we are floundering, wandering, totally lost and feeling utterly anonymous. We are not sure how or why it happened, but we plummet from our pristine mountaintops and realize that we have got nothing going for us and nobody knows our names anyway and those dreams that seemed so close are a lot farther than we thought. We realize that we will probably end up either homeless and alone or camping out in our parents basement. And we lose interest in absolutely everything and believe in almost nothing.
We all experience the funk. It is a curious thing, really a slow, arching spiral that sucks us into lethargy and apathy. We do not feel right. There is a guilty feeling because we are lost and we are not productive, but we do not have the energy to pull ourselves upright and get ourselves moving. We feel oddly squishy, like life is passing and we cannot catch up, like we are being buffeted around by the cackling winds of a sadistic world that already forgot who we are. We lose interest in our hobbies, our occupations, our relationships, and the things that usually make us happy.
But at the same time, it is not depression. We are not really sad. We are not plunging into the depths of despair. Instead, we simply go limp: we go through life like unformed grey blobs, obeying the mechanics of life but feeling like ghosts. Everything is bleak, but we know better than to overindulge in self-pity. Our hearts beat, but for nothing in particular.
It is just…a funk.
Everybody experiences the funk. That is normal. The tricky part is climbing back out of the chasm of listlessness. Trust me, I have been there, and I know that it sucks. Thankfully, I know that it is not indomitable. The funk is not the end; it is just another obstacle to your ultimate goals.
The first step is to figure out why you feel this way. The funk can be caused by almost anything, but it is most commonly associated with boredom, fatigue, and rejection.
Our routines are comforting when we are living high-stress lives or emerging from some sort of trauma or discomfort, but riding out a groove for too long can wear that groove into a rut. If you are living through a stuffed schedule but finding joy in none of your activities, you are basically begging to feel burnt out. You will end up bored, apathetic, and inexplicably tired. Even if you are working hard, you are working without zeal, which is even worse. There is no friction, there is no push in your efforts, so, like some grunting troll, you are just dumbly slugging forward without the passion to keep you going.
Or, if you are the type of person who drives forward relentlessly in a highly competitive field, the rejection you are likely to meet can take its toll. If you have worked for years to accomplish ____ but cannot quite seem to make your big break, that rejection can bury you in futility. Realizing that all your work might come to naught is disheartening, and when that heart has been your engine, then you can sputter and gurgle like a broken-down car.
Even relationships can cause the funk. If you are staying in every night eating Chinese food with your boo who has gone from tight jeans to sweatpants, then it is probably time to mix a few things up. Here are some things that I have learned over the years, just to help you out next time you are feeling like you are getting intolerably bored:
It is tempting to stop working when you are in the funk, to stop moving toward your goals. Unfortunately, that is probably the most counterproductive thing you can do.
If you sink into laziness, you will sink into lethargy, apathy, and eventual stagnancy. Stagnancy is the enemy here. Fight the urge to take an indefinite break and keep plowing through. Keeping yourself busy might be mind-numbing, but stopping working will be worse.
Do not give up on what you want or need. In the end, you will still want or need it, and if you have lost all your progress, starting from square one can too be daunting and discouraging to even begin again. Sticking to your goals eliminates the possibility of going from funk to full-on bottoming out.
In the meantime, get off your a** and enjoy life again. In the same way that you cannot stop working, you cannot keep yourself holed up in a little pouch of routine.
I know it sucks, but even when you feel like just curling up in a bubble of negativity, get dressed and get out. Go out with your friends and find something fun to do. If you do not have friends, then go out by yourself, go hiking, go try new restaurants, it does not really matter what it is, as long as you are not sitting on the couch.
Hiking is a great way to get out and about. However, it can be difficult to know where to start! A friend of mine recently went on one of the amazing Vermilion cliffs tours and had a fantastic time. Above all, doing some research online can help you to find a hiking trip that appeals to you.
Even just light physical activity can help your spirit breathe. Instead of lounging in old sweatpants, go for a walk. Something that simple can help you more alive, more awake, and more energetic.
Listen to new or inspirational music.
Music has a particularly contagious quality that can transform your mood. If you need to be revved up, then listen to music that revs you up. My personal favorite is hip-hop about personal trial: Macklemore, B.O.B., Eminem, Kid Cudi, etc. Listening to Snoop obviously will not change your life, but listening to hard-ridden artists who write honest raps about genuine struggles all backed by thumping beats designed to get your blood flowing can really accelerate your pulse.
If you are not into hip-hop or no specific genre has a powerful impact on you, then perhaps try something new. Maybe jazz or reggae or even something in a niche like electro swing. Broadening your horizons and experimenting with new tastes can help yank you out of that music rut you might not even realize that you are in until you realize that you have been listening to the same playlists you made your first year of college.
I cannot say this enough: exercising and eating well will do wonders for your heart, your mind, your energy levels, and your self-esteem.
Most people associate exercise and dieting with losing weight, which resolves insecurities on a vanity basis. That is helpful and it is definitely not wrong. Feeling better about the way you look improves confidence and lessens social neuroses, which can help you be more social and smile with less hesitation.
It is more than that, though. Exercising and eating well produces chemical changes in the mind and body that can sharpen your focus, alleviate a basic level of anxiety, and amp up your energy levels. The endorphins from exercise alone are enough to get out of bed and go for that morning run you have been planning for weeks it will be worth it.
One of the best parts about exercise is that it is the best addiction you can have. The health cult is all the rage right now because it is wonderful: it is addicting, fun, beneficial, and most of all it can become a hobby. Next thing you know, you will be looking forward to spin class and maybe even leading your own.
But I am not talking bout becoming a fitness freak or training yourself into the ground. Just the basic act of trying is wonderfully inspiring and motivating. You will feel about yourself knowing that you are working for something worthwhile.
Find something you are passionate about.
Which leads me to the most important item on this list: passion. Finding passion in life can be tricky and sometimes seems impossible, but it is what makes life worth living.
Start a new hobby. Pick up anything yoga, hiking, knitting, baking, kickboxing, photography, gardening, even just restaurant-hopping or journaling anything that teaches you something new. Start a blog. Start running. Sign up for a ballroom dancing class and actually go.
Learning something new is a way to discover new talents and a new zeal for life. Having something to look forward to, even if it is only once or twice a week, can inspire you to feel happier, more accomplished, more interesting, and more curious. Going out into life and discovering what you love about it is one of the most beautiful parts of living it.