The Fastest Way Out of a Funk

Jul 11, 2012

Last week I made an art form out of feeling sorry for myself.

I stomped. Cried. Pouted. Made a significant racket putting the dishes away. I acted like the most childish member of the family, without all the chubby-cheek cuteness of my littles to take the edge off.

The week started off fine. A handful of ordinary days sandwiching a beautiful 4th of July with family. But then Thursday happened. And Friday. And everything that could’ve gone wrong seemed to.

In hindsight, several factors contributed to my downward spiral into reality TV behavior. The holiday interrupted our routine, and I should’ve adjusted my workload to accommodate. Add a couple sleepless nights, a car in the shop, a funeral for my son’s 19-year-old buddy, three tired littles, a major family decision, and … Let’s just say when I whipped my legs out of bed Thursday morning, I tripped a land mine. My overwhelmed self spewed shrapnel every direction.

By Saturday morning I was in quite a funk. Bleary-eyed, impatient, teary, exhausted. My husband took one look at me and said, “You need to leave.”

What?! I know I haven’t been myself this week—alright, I’ve acted like a nap-less two year old on a steady diet of gummy bears. But LEAVE???

“Take a break,” he urged. “Do something for yourself. I don’t care what. But you need to leave.”

So I did. I left and didn’t come back for a few hours. And when I did, to the relieved joy of my family and the great chagrin of Jerry Springer’s talent scouts, I returned a different woman.

I didn’t do anything elaborate. But my brief Saturday hiatus turned out to be the fastest way out of my funk. If you’re overwhelmed and need a break, here’s my secret Saturday sauce:

Solitude: When overwhelmed, added stimulation is about as dangerous as rain showers to an already flooded creek. We need silence, quiet, peace to rediscover our boundaries and ourselves. But true solitude is difficult to come by. Saturday I went to the library, about the only place where quiet is strictly enforced, protected. I found a cubicle in the back near a window and soaked up peace like a desert the rain.

Delight: Too much fun doesn’t overwhelm us; too little of it does. Sometimes we’re too grown up. We need to be child-like (not child-ish), remember what it feels like to play and imagine and laugh. In all the pressure we heap on ourselves to accomplish, we forget to breathe. Enjoy the delight of living and loving. On Saturday, after finding my library corner, I could’ve tackled my to-dos. Instead, I turned on my favorite classical music and allowed myself four hours of creative writing. Just for the love of it.

Exercise: Exercise might be the single greatest means of de-stressing. At the end of my break, before returning home, I went to the gym and worked out. Hard. All that intensity and sweat had a cleansing effect, emptying me of the angst that had been building over the prior couple days and actually giving me a dose of needed energy to head back home.

Positivity: Negative thoughts breed like bunnies. Give audience to one, and a dozen more result. The only way to stop the cycle is to stop the cycle. This is perhaps the hardest part for me. When I’m exhausted and overwhelmed, I don’t have the energy to restrain and retrain my thoughts. But that’s exactly what I must do. As it turns out, positivity breeds like bunnies, too.

How do you recover from an overwhelming day?



  1. Laurie Acker

    Not enough people admit the “funk” in their days….and I definitely have those moments. For me, leaving my environment, getting outside, exercising to a sweat… a stroll doesn’t do it, but a long hot walk will. Truly is surprising how I can take an hour off and come back and accomplish so much more. It’s that edge of spending some time, but ending up with more than you dreamed you would. The payoff of NOT powering through, but TAKING A BREAK, is quite remarkable! Thank you for the reminder.

    • Michele

      Stepping out of the environment is huge. We keep spinning the same hamster wheel and wonder why we have a headache!

  2. Carrie Daws

    Yes! When I’m really struggling, I look for outside distractions and fun. Usually it helps tremendously!

    • Michele

      Seems so simple, doesn’t it? Then why do I often forget the fun factor?!

  3. Ken Shaddox

    I love Psalm 46:10. I love what you’ve written about the place of solitude in life. As much as I love being with people and personal relationships I have found great value in pulling back and getting still before God. Hiking to the top of Pinnacle Mountain (here in Central Arkansas) is one of my favorite ways of restoring inner peace. Talking with God on top of that mountain does something for me that money can’t buy. God speaks in those times when I get away from the clutter, noise, and pace of everyday life.

    • Michele

      “Be still and know that I am God.” One of those verses I could read a dozen times a day … and probably need to!

  4. Wendy Brooks

    I always get somewhere quiet and pray before I do anything else. I used to cast away “the power of prayer” as more or less a good slogan. Yes it sounds good, but I later realized after I put it into REGULAR practice that it really does work.
    That time spent alone with the Father allows me to realize that nothing else matters. Then I enjoy quiet time reading at the library or I sometimes choose to wander aimlessly in Barnes & Noble. Nothing like the calmness which floods over me when I’m surrounded by aisles of books, and the mesmerizing smell of brewing coffee. Such bliss…..

    • Michele

      I’ve noticed the same, how we discard prayer as cliche, when in fact it holds more strength and power than any of our other endeavors. Thanks for the gentle reminder, Wendy.

  5. Tracee

    I have had too many of those days in a row. I’ve tried so many things to get out of my funk. Exercise is the one thing that seems to take the edge off. Maybe it’s that I wear myself out. I don’t know. I usually camp out at Starbucks and read and journal. Alone time for me definitely involves other people around. That’s the extrovert in me. However, there is value in taking a time out. Still feel like I need a vacation.

    • Michele

      It probably has something to do with all the life change you’ve been through lately. It’s significant! You probably DO need a vacation, and I know the perfect Colorado home willing to host you. 🙂

  6. Shelly Burke

    I live in a rural area so usually stay home when I’m in a funk, but I give myself the day “off.” I don’t do laundry, cleaning, or cooking and instead read, take a walk or run (there is definitely anti-funk power in sweating!) and often nap. 🙂

    To head off a funk I try to take Sundays “off” every week, with church as the only outside activity. It takes some preparation during the week, so there are towels for everyone and something to eat 🙂 on Sunday, but my family has gotten used to my routine and my week is much more productive when Sunday is truly a day of rest.

    THANK YOU for your encouragement Michele!

    • Michele

      Great ideas, Shelly. And I agree–there’s lots of anti-funk power in sweating!


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