Let's talk about the funk. A funk is a passing mood. It might pass very slowly. But even as you're crawling through it, you know you're going to get to the other side someday. We might call a funk the Diet Pepsi of situational depression.
Situational depression is the kind of dark fog that sets in for a reason. That reason isn't always clear. Sometimes you can be triggered by something that doesn't make sense. However, most of the time you know exactly what caused the darkness to come flowing in.
The death of a loved one
The loss of a job
An illness or injury
An election gone sideways
Any kind of traumatic event can precipitate a funk or situational depression.
Situational depression is different than chronic depression. Situational depression is usually caused by a situation. Chronic depression has to do with brain and body chemistry. Chronic depression usually should be treated with medication. Situational depression probably shouldn't. That said, every case is different.
However, here's the thing you need to know:
Situational depression, or even a funk that's got some meat on its bones, left unattended for too long can become chronic depression. You don't want that to happen.
When you feel like shit for too long, putting it very simply, your brain chemistry starts to alter itself. You acclimate to a place where feeling like shit becomes your new brain chemistry norm.
Through neuroplasticity, your brain starts to mould itself around a depressive chemical state. Before you know it your brain isn't making happy chemicals nearly enough or nearly often enough. What was situational becomes chemically chronic.
Stating the obvious, for that reason, you want to fight the funk. How long it takes the brain to change itself is different for every person and probably in every case. So it's in your best interest to get on getting out of the funk quickly.
And then here's the other side of that sword. It's also important to honor all your feelings for as long as you have them. If you don't feel them, they fester, and that has long-term emotional and physical implications you don't want to have to face in the future. Feelings are a big and real. Rushing them isn't healthy.
So, how do you fight the funk and honor your feels at the same time??
Step Number 1
Feel your feelings. All of them. However, stop having a conversation with them.
Suspend the story you're telling yourself about why you're having the feelings or what caused the feelings
Heavy feelings + Story = Stuck
Pure emotions without the story attached to them are sacred. It's the story that keeps you circling the toilet bowl. If you can deeply feel everything and stop your monkey mind from toying with the emotions, those emotions move through and transform much more quickly.
You have every right to feel whatever you're feeling, even if, maybe especially if those feelings are painful. Don't stuff your emotions or try to fake something better. Be in it. Just put up a firewall between your heart and your head. Let those feelings run very pure without polluting them by thinking about what's got you in the funk.
Step Number 2
Proactively embrace the kind of self-care we know has a positive effect on mood and treating depression. You can and should address your funk while avoiding the tendency to stuff your feelings.
Exercise is a big deal.
A bunch of studies have proven exercise has a massive impact in the treatment of chronic or situational depression. Exercise forces your body into releasing feel very good endorphins.
Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.
A little exercise goes a long way. However, exercising regularly has compound effects on mood and wellbeing.
Meditation and mindfulness have a massive positive effect on mood. People have know that for thousands of years.
Meditation gets a bad rap with a lot of people. A lot of people who struggle with meditation are over-complicating it.
Mindfulness meditation may not cure all, the research found, but when it comes to the treatment of depression, anxiety, and pain, the practice may be just as effective as medication.
Do practice better-feeling thoughts a few minutes a day. Do not try to practice better-feeling thoughts about the thing that has you feeling funky.
Get those better feeling thoughts flowing about something, anything else.
Set a timer for maybe 2-5 minutes and just notice things that bring you joy.
Warm tea - check.
Snoring dogs - check.
Comforting fire in the fireplace - check.
Giggling child - check.
Don't try to wrangle your thoughts about what's bugging you until you're feeling better. Instead, focus thoughts on things you actually do enjoy and hang out there.
Do this two or three times a day and try to go a little longer each time.
Get help if you need help.
Reach out to friends and family for support. Get professional support before you absolutely need it. Call your coach and get a game plan for getting back in the game or call a therapist if you think that would be helpful.