Five Ways to Work Through a Funk


Photo by Kary Schumpert
Photo by Kary Schumpert

The other day I was feeling funky. Others might call it a bad mood, but I think feelings and moods are neither good nor bad. They pass and are temporary. There was no event, person, or situation that caused the funky mood. I was just in a funk. Rather than wallow in it, I wanted to get back to my “normal” self as soon as possible. Here are my tried-and-true tools to get out of a funk:

  1. Exercise through it. My preferred method is to run, but a session of swimming laps feels great. The other morning, I got up early and headed to the pool. The shock of cool water and then the soothing monotony of swimming laps from wall to wall helped to lift my mood. Of course, the endorphins from exercise can also be great mood elevators, but I do not know if I ever reach that level when I swim. For me, it’s more the movement of my muscles and the reward of a hot shower afterwards that shakes me out of the mood. The swim and the feeling of my body working for itself and my mind helps every time. On a morning like that, the workout is more for my spirit, rather than my fitness, but it’s really hard to separate those things. For me, they are tied up in a beautiful, tangled knot. When it’s the middle of the day, or I need to be somewhere where the smells of sweat or chlorine are not welcome, a quick walk down the hall or around the block helps. A few minutes furiously jumping rope also does the trick.
  2. Dress and groom for it. It seems counter-intuitive, but this pretty much works for me every time. I generally think of myself as a fresh-faced, wash-and-wear girl, but on funky days, I reach for my favorite, slightly dressier clothes. On Tuesday, I found my new red, over-the-knee skirt and paired it with my favorite black sweater, black tights, and my trusty kick-a$$ knee-high black leather boots. I brushed out my hair and put on makeup. I accessorized with silver earrings, silver necklace, and a silver ring. This is for me. For years, I ignored my appearance and I now feel a new appreciation for my body and face. With this past morning of a funk, the extra pampering signaled to me that I must love myself. The bright skirt and accessories were physical symbols. It’s not vanity, it’s self-care. I was giving myself those few extra precious moments on a hurried morning, the not-so-subtle reminder that I am worth the effort. Plus, the twirl of a new skirt is a thrill I love.
  3. Sing through it. I am a big believer in the healing power of music, but I also simply love it. I sing while showering, driving, cleaning, and, when I have enough air, I even sing while running. On that funky morning, I put on an old reliable favorite CD and belted my way through familiar ballads and pop tunes. Sometimes it’s the harmony, or it’s the feeling of that particular song that returns me to a happy memory. Occasionally, it’s my silliness that cheers me up as I chirp away. I realize there is something meditative about singing and for me, some songs become a way to escape my thoughts and get back to my heart, to my being.
  4. Dance to it. Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” literally moves me out of my funk into a completely enjoyable kind of funk. It’s the catchy tune, the impossibility of not dancing while hearing this favorite song, that brings me right up into a new space. I can’t think of any other song that delivers this much unadulterated fun. It’s like no other and I feel completely different after dancing off my mood to it. “Uptown Funk” obliterates my funk.
  5. Write through it. Sometimes I use my writing to articulate my mood, much like I did in my “Dear Diary” moments in high school. Because writing is just about my favorite thing, by participating in one of my treasured hobbies, I lighten my mood. There are the sensory aspects that also help: the scratch of the pen on paper and the physical act of my fist grasping the pen while moving it across the page. When I feel like I am in a writing funk (different than just a mood), the only solution is to write more. With a recent move, a new job, and new town, I have been writing less and I realized that the funk might be partly caused by what is missing: my writing ritual. Taking time for the things I love, even five minutes, propels me forward.

Reliably, these five habits and routines shake me up and shake me out of my funk. It’s the snap I need to get back to me. Despite their seemingly superficiality, they are my spiritual adjustment. The funk clears and the heart becomes whole again. It’s glorious as the funk passes away, all with the steam of my effort, and the comfort of my own care.




  1. Kary

    Read your blog on dissolving funk and found it rather interesting. I read all five methods you employed and replied with my personal use of these facets to relieve funk.

    When I go running when in a state of funk, I really have to push myself (sometimes to the nth degree) to move outside and commence with the exercise. I most often move slowly at its commencement but after awhile my frame of mind becomes more dynamic and I pick-up the pace. This same phenomenon holds true when pushing myself to participate in resistance training. So much easier said than done.

    I always employ casual dress (even for work)) because it places me in a relaxed state of mind. But I do dress formally when the situation dictates it which is far and few between times. But a state of funk does not set-in. When dressing casually everyday, I am sensitive about the color of my attire that cuts any funk off at the pass. I never wear jeans because my mindset causes me to view myself as a bonified loser. Jeans work well for others but not for me. Now, just in fun-do you ever wear pants two sizes too small to relieve your funk ?

    iii) SING
    The only singing I ever do is in the shower and almost always a gospel song. Thus, no one can hear me. I have a voice that “frightens angels”, hence, I keep my mandible absolutely still in church or at public singings. Therefore, I do not disturb others that carry excellent tonality. Singing does have a potent effect on relieving psychological duress. During my high school days (“72-“76) us students had a little song at football games: ” we say he’s kind of funky, he does the boogie woogie”. I stayed quiet.

    iv) DANCE
    I never dance at home or in public. My body is absolutely not designed for it. Others excel at it to relieve psychological duress. At sundry times I relieve stress by observing others dance to popular music (i.e., Cossack Dance).

    I most often send emails to friends and acquaintances as the superlative method of dissolving funk. Funk sounds colloquial but it swings a big and potent stick

    Did you receive the Thanksgiving ecard I sent you on 21Nov. ?
    Keep writing these good blogs babydoll. Good for my social existence.
    The Lord bless you and your writing ministry daily.


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