Feeling down? 5 ways to get out of a funk and start feeling better

feeling down
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Have you ever been in a funk? Not depression or serious grief, but a couple of disappointments back to back get you feeling down.

When you’re feeling that way, you want to take a vacation from life. You might hide out more than usual to avoid burdening others with your problems.

You’ve been burned in the past by people who lack compassion and understanding. When you went to them for support, they quoted Bible verses at you. Or made it all about themselves.

If you’re feeling down, there are a number of things you can do that don’t involve pretending or hiding. I believe in feeling your feelings and not “fake it till you make it”.

If you're feeling down, there are a number of things you can do that don't involve pretending or hiding. Click To Tweet

You should never fake anything. Remember Sadness in the Inside Out movie? They needed her so the protagonist could show her parents her true feelings and they could support her.

With that in mind, here are five ways to deal with feeling down without pretending you’re okay when you’re not.

1. Tell someone you’re feeling down.

Maybe you’ve been hurt before when you tried to share your feelings. Now that you know who’s unsafe, you can decide not to share with those people.

But find someone who’s shared with you in the past and return the favor. Or take a chance with someone you trust.

When we refuse to share our down times with others we deprive both them and ourselves of intimacy and connection.

Relationships deepen through struggles. That’s how we get to know each other better.

Do you ever notice when you share something hard, the other person is inspired to open up, too? Sharing our pain increases trust and helps us know we’re not alone.

Sharing our pain increases trust and helps us know we're not alone. Click To Tweet

So even when the last thing you want to do is expose yourself, it’s the only way to find true support and be fully seen and known by others.

2. Do something for someone else.

It’s healthy to seek a little bit of solitude when you’re feeling down. But it you find yourself avoiding seeing people and fixating on your problems, it’s time to get outside yourself.

In these situations, you have to do the opposite of what you feel like doing. It’s as simple as texting a friend to see how they’re doing.

Or making a donation to a cause near to your heart. Or promoting someone else on social media.

When Jesus told us to love others as ourselves, He didn’t mention the benefits. And that’s not the reason we do it.

But there is something therapeutic about reaching outside yourself to comfort or bless someone else.

3. Move your body when you’re feeling down.

feeling down

Literally, get up off the couch and move around. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise: a few jumping jacks or push ups instantly change a stagnant frame of mind.

A walk around the neighborhood helps, too. If the sun is out you get needed Vitamin D. Nature does wonders for our quality of mind and can be very healing.

Again, it’s the last thing you want to do, but it will alter your frame of mind and keep you on the road to good health.

4. Take a deep breath.

It’s simple but sometimes we forget to breathe deeply and slowly. Shallow breathing encourages anxiety and feelings of fear.

A simple deep breath acts like a reset and can be therapeutic. You can take it further and practice mindful meditation.

Another way to slow down and breathe is to shut off the internet and read a physical book. The process of reading keeps you in the moment and away from your ruminating thoughts.

Reading helps you escape in a way social media never can. Click To Tweet

Reading helps you escape in a way social media never can. You engage with someone else’s story and take a break from your own.

5. Check something off your list.

The power of completing one small task when you’re feeling down will surprise you. Set yourself up for success by completing something easy.

Reach for the low-hanging fruit. You don’t have to stretch too far and grabbing it gives you the impetus to reach higher next time.

Accomplishing a seemingly insignificant task can make all the difference in getting back on your feet. Even if you simply begin, you’ll feel a burst of confidence.

Positive action reminds you that you’re capable and have the power to change your circumstances.

Intentional living: How to stop abandoning yourself and live a more authentic life

intentional living

You may have heard the phrase “living with intention” or “intentional living” bandied around lately. But what does it mean, really?

At its essence, intentional living means doing more of what you want and less of what you don’t want.

You will find fancier explanations on the internet, but if you drill down, that’s a good working definition.

Are you doing more of what you want than what you don’t want? If so, you are living an intentional life.

Let’s examine three strategies that will help you live a more intentional life.

Notice it’s not about doing only what you want, but more of it. If, on balance, you derive satisfaction from your life events, you are living an intentional life.

1. Understand your values

In order to live a more intentional life, you must know what matters to you. If you are not clear on what you value, you will be tossed to and fro, rather than standing firm on your beliefs.

To live a more intentional life, you must know what matters to you. Click To Tweet

For example, if relationship with God is your highest value, your life will reflect that. You might decide not to schedule things on Sunday because you go to church.

Intentional living requires sacrifice. For example, many children’s sports leagues schedule games and practices on Sundays.

You and your family would miss out on those because you value God more than sports.

I once heard a mother in the schoolyard boast about telling her kids never to do anything they don’t want to do.

Now, it’s important to teach children about boundaries. Very important, in fact, because their safety depends on it.

However, coaching your kids to do only what they enjoy imprints them with a spirit of hedonism. Hedonism says the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain are the only goals that matter in life.

Spoiled Heidi Montag GIF by The Hills - Find & Share on GIPHY

Intentional living says instead, “I take care of my own needs while also caring for the needs of others. I accept my responsibilities and balance them with my unique longings.”

For example, most kids don’t like homework, but they do it because it’s required to succeed in their classes. They study for tests even though it’s unpleasant because they want the reward of a good grade.

On a deeper level, they’ll take time out to bring homework to a sick friend, or visit them in hospital. They spend time helping at a homeless shelter rather than doing something more “fun” with their friends.

2. Set good boundaries

If you never learned how to set boundaries, you might suffer from people pleasing. You were raised to put others’ needs ahead of your own. So, standing up for yourself feels wrong and selfish.

Intentional living requires letting go of that mindset. Examine why you say yes to things you don’t want to do.

Are you motivated by fear of rejection or disappointing someone? These are external rather than internal drivers.

External motivation is not always bad, but it’s worth asking whether it is the main one in your life and how that’s working for you.

If you feel depleted and unsatisfied with life, that’s a good sign you are in self-abandonment mode.

If you feel depleted and unsatisfied with life, that's a good sign you are in self-abandonment mode. Click To Tweet

If you’re turning to wine or other artificial soothers to help you feel better, that’s another sign you’re living without intention.

Here are two questions to ask yourself any time you’re unsure if you’re abandoning yourself this way.

i) “For what reason am I making this decision?” If the answer involves guilt, shame, fear, or other negative emotions, you might be in abandonment mode.

ii) “If I were the only person on earth, would I still want to do this?” This question removes other people’s influence from your decision-making, so you can determine how you really feel.

If you’re a conflict-avoidant person, it seems easier to say yes to things. You’ll suffer for a short time to keep the relationship, or avoid disappointing someone.

You’ll do it simply to sidestep an uncomfortable conversation.

But this mindset ensures you suffer and over-give in the long term. It never puts your relationships to the test.

Boundaries in relationships help you discern whether someone takes an interest in your needs, or only wants you around for what you can do for them.

Refusing to set boundaries is tantamount to pushing your head in the sand. You ignore reality and nothing changes, moves forward, or grows. Especially not you.

3. Recognize your unique needs

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? A highly sensitive person? Your unique personality will influence what you need and how you relate to the world.

If you’re a person who requires solitude, let people know. Don’t feel pressured to say yes to every social event just because it fits into your calendar.

Pencil alone time into that calendar before you schedule anything else.

On the flip side if you require variety and stimulation, take care of those needs, too. Spend time on hobbies that feed your passions, and projects that fulfill you.

If doing less makes you feel bored, then incorporate more exciting ventures into your life.

People don’t know what you need until you tell them. And if you’ve lived a life for others, you may need time to discover your unique personality.

if you've lived a life for others, you need time to discover your unique personality. Click To Tweet

You’ve buried your desires for so long, you have trouble remembering what they are.

In this self-discovery phase, you’ll spend more time journaling and writing down your likes and dislikes.

You might decide to vacation alone if that’s feasible for you. Or go on a retreat with like-minded women.

Feed your longing for creativity with some art projects. Take a class. Read books that inspire you.

Spend more time with God. He made you and knows exactly what you need.

When you learn about yourself this way, you’ll stop doing too many things you don’t want to do.

Your have-tos will seem far less burdensome when you take care of your want-tos as well.

Apologizing too much? 5 reasons we say sorry and how to stop

apologizing, self care, personal growth, boundaries, self improvement

Have you ever found yourself apologizing for things that weren’t your fault? Once, while walking with my daughter, a man jostled her in his rush to get by on the city sidewalk.

“Sorry,” she muttered to no one in particular, as he had already passed. She then sagely asked herself, “why did I say sorry? He ran into me.”

Saying sorry can become a habit. Like any habit, it takes effort and self-discipline to break. Sometimes there are deep-rooted reasons for our constant apologizing.

Saying sorry too much can chip away at our self-esteem and reinforce a negative self-image. Click To Tweet

Saying sorry too much can chip away at our self-esteem and reinforce a negative self-image. That’s probably the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve when you apologize.

So, to help you understand why you’re apologizing so much, here are 5 common reasons we say sorry when it’s not necessary.

1. Culture

Certain cultures (like Canada) apologize more than others. When society puts a high value on conflict avoidance and getting along, over apologizing ensues.

Though these are amazing values, when people apologize too much, the words lose all meaning.

There’s also evidence women apologize more than men, as they’re raised to be more polite and people pleasing.

As most cultures become more tech savvy, we apologize for delayed emails and texts. And a window of anything more than a day counts as a delay.

2. Childhood

Did you grow up in a home that taught you to stay silent about your needs? If so, you may feel the need to apologize any time you ask for something.

It seems as though you’re apologizing for your very existence.

You were taught your opinions don’t matter, so you find it hard to express them without apologizing first.

If you had authoritarian parents, you apologize as a sign of deference, even in adulthood.

If self care wasn’t valued, you apologize for taking time for yourself, and doing what you want, instead of what someone else wants.

3. Fear of rejection

How do you feel when you have to say no to someone? Are you consumed with thoughts of what they’ll think of you?

Afraid they’ll get angry or rebuff you in some other way? Your fear of rejection instigates an apology in an effort to smooth the conflict you believe will ensue.

Rather than decline an invitation confidently, you apologize profusely for not being able to attend.

In this way, you put the other person’s feelings ahead of your own. It’s a form of self-abandonment which harms your self-image and others’ opinion of you.

4. Fear of imposing

If you apologize for crying or expressing emotions, it’s because you view your feelings as an inconvenience to others.

But you’re not imposing when you show up in the world as your authentic self. You’re worthy of affirmation even when you’re having a bad day.

The quote often attributed to Marilyn Monroe says it best: “if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.”

You're worthy of affirmation even when you're having a bad day. Click To Tweet

Stop viewing your feelings as an imposition. And remember to accept support as much as you give it. You are worth taking care of.

5. Compassion

You say sorry too often because you’re a beautiful person who cares about the feelings of others. However, we go too far when we put the other person’s feelings ahead of our own.

Compassion for others comes easily to you. Remember to reserve some of that compassion for yourself.

How to stop apologizing so much

Full disclosure: I’m a recovered over-apologizer. A few years ago, I decided to stop a lifetime of programming and say sorry only when I meant it.

Like any bad habit, breaking my penchant for meaningless apologies took time and discipline. Now, my apologies are more potent and carry real meaning.

Here are 4 things that worked for me:

1. Pause before apologizing

I trained myself to stop any time “sorry” threatened to fly out of my mouth. Then I’d assess whether it applied in that particular situation.

You can use the above list of reasons as a filter through which to gauge whether a sorry is sincere or programmed.

2. Say thank you instead

Instead of saying sorry for arriving late, thank the person for their understanding. Appreciate that their time is valuable and express gratitude for giving you grace.

Instead of saying sorry for arriving late, thank the person for their understanding. Click To Tweet

Rather than apologize for a late email, thank the recipient for her patience while you got back to her with a considered response.

3. Choose your words carefully

Being more intentional around your speech has the added benefit of helping you take up more space. You spend the time you need to express yourself effectively.

Rather than jumping to sorry when you need more information or clarification, simply ask for what you need.

By the same token, ask a question without prefacing with an apology for asking.

4. Journal your reasons for apologizing

Sit down with pen and paper and write down all the reasons you apologize. Seeing all that faulty programming in black and white will give you great incentive to stop apologizing so much.

Learning to curb your apology habit will raise your self-image by making you feel more sincere and in control.

Investing the effort to break a lifelong habit like apologizing takes tremendous effort and self-discipline. But it’s through these challenges that we grow and become the women God intended us to be.

Self-compassion: why you need it and how to get it

self-compassion, self care, self improvement, personal growth, boundaries

Self-compassion simply means caring about yourself as you care about others. You offer yourself the same level of support and understanding you would a friend or family member.

In many ways, we treat others better than ourselves. We’d never berate someone else for making a mistake the way we do ourselves. Or call them a failure for falling short of a goal.

If you tend to criticize rather than comfort yourself when you’re going through something hard, you need more self-compassion in your life.

If you tend to criticize rather than comfort yourself when you're going through something hard, you need more self-compassion. Click To Tweet

Dr. Kristen Neff has studied and written a book on the topic of self-compassion. She defines the term as kindness and understanding toward yourself in the face of your personal failings.

Here are the three major ways she says we can demonstrate self-compassion.

1. Kindness toward yourself is self-compassion

It’s common to jump to criticism of ourselves when we feel we’re falling short. We forget what God thinks about us. We forget that he says to come to him when we are weary and need rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Instead, we scold ourselves for not being good enough. We push harder rather than extending ourselves grace.

Sometimes, when we haven’t learned to do self-compassion well, we turn to unhealthy substitutes. How many moms do you know who use wine for comfort because they’re missing the true solace of sleep and time alone?

Be kind to yourself when things don’t turn out the way you expected. Or when you fail at something that was important to you. Failure means you tried and it’s a necessary step on the road to success.

2. Shared human experience

When something bad happens, are you convinced you’re the only person in the world who feels this way? When you’re down or things aren’t going your way, do you tend to isolate?

You might fall into the trap of feeling inadequate for falling short of perfection. But everyone falls short of this standard. In fact, God makes it clear he loves us in spite of our imperfections.

When you’re going through a difficult time it’s important to remember that everyone goes through those times. When you fail at something, you’re in good company because everybody fails at times.

It’s in our sufferings and shortcomings that we find connection with others. Have you ever seen a friendship deepen when you decided to share something hard or embarrassing?

Rather than letting your down times separate you from the world, use them to create bonds of intimacy. Reaching out to others is a form of self-compassion.

Rather than letting your down times separate you from the world, use them to create bonds of intimacy. Click To Tweet

You might be surprised at what someone else shares with you when you take the risk to be vulnerable with them.

3. Feeling all your emotions is self-compassion

We tend to identify certain emotions as positive and others as negative. We celebrate joy and victory, and push down or deny the ones that don’t feel as good.

But all our emotions have something to tell us. It’s necessary to engage with them in their entirety for a healthy, balanced life.

When we fail to acknowledge sadness, it can lead to darker depression or physical illness. Relentless positive thinking takes away the opportunity to grow and learn from our valley experiences.

If we push away anger we miss the important signals it gives about what needs to change in our lives. We miss the transformative opportunities of listening and responding to our anger rather than fearing it.

If we push away anger we miss important signals about what needs to change in our lives. Click To Tweet

Give yourself permission to sink into your emotions. Trust God to be with you in the well and accept that he has something to teach you in this wilderness.

You don’t need to push away inconvenient feelings to get on with things. They help you learn more about yourself and what you want.

That’s how your life becomes more aligned with who you are.

When you feel all your feelings, you neither minimize nor blow them out of proportion. You accept them for what they are and let them give you the messages they’re designed to give.

Then, you can take that information and apply it to your future. Rather than berating yourself, you can decide to do things differently next time.

Or you might need to set some firm and appropriate boundaries with the people in your life.

Approach your feelings with a spirit of curiosity and non-judgment and remember they are all valid. Accept the gentle lessons and stop beating yourself up for being human.