You’re having a bad day, maybe even a bad week (or month). What can you do to get out of your funk?
I like the word “funk” here, as you may not be depressed, but there still is a big difference between having a sense of well-being and feeling that all is right with the world, on the one hand, and being in an anxious and paranoid depression, on the other. Even places far from the depressed end of the spectrum can be downright uncomfortable and interfere with your relationships, your concentration, your ability to perform your job well, and your ability to appreciate life.
What can you do when you find yourself in a funk (or worse)?
Many of you may have a mindfulness practice as part of your yoga practice. You have been encouraged to watch the thoughts or sensations as they come and as they go. In this practice – or in other parts of your life – pay attention to what comes up (without judging it). Notice how what you observe on this day may be different from that on other days. Reflect regularly on how you’re doing – in and out of your yoga practice, not just when you are doing poorly. To get out of a funk, you have to recognize that you are in one.
As you reflect, consider when you are well and when you are less well. Think about what keeps you well: hugging your children, reading a good book, walking in the woods, talking to our moms, working in the garden, spending time with friends. Your things may be different than mine, so recognize what keeps youwell.
2. Return to What Keeps You Well
One of the difficulties in depression – and funks – is that we stop doing the things that keep us well. It is hard to believe that doing these things matters and will be helpful. They are. Hug your children, read a good book, walk in the woods, talk to your mom, work in the garden, spend time with friends. These things may not help right away, but keep doing them, as they will help.
Of course, when possible, respond proactively, rather than waiting until you are already doing poorly. Recognize what keeps you well and make these a regular part of life.
3. Look For Balance
Pay attention to how you are spending your time. Hugging your children is good, but if that’s all you’re doing? Find balance both on and off the mat. Rumer Godden wrote, “There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.”
How do you spend your time? Do you visit each room daily and joyfully – or do you let some rooms develop cobwebs and dust bunnies? Are you spending sufficient time in each room and in ways that work for you? If you visited your rooms differently in the past and were happier, what can you learn from that?
4. Be Grateful
If you already have a gratitude practice – great! If not, start by paying attention to the things you are grateful for: the sound of your teacher’s voice, your ability to move freely and to do things that you couldn’t do last year, the sound of the birds outside your window, the sun on your back. Make time to appreciate the things that you are grateful for every day until doing so becomes a habit (and then keep doing it). Engaging in a regular gratitude practice is related to positive physical and mental health outcomes including fewer visits to the doctor and less depression and anxiety.
In sum, know that you are already holding the seeds of change. Recognize that you are holding them, then plant them and let them grow.