Amy Eksteen

Let us be honest and real with each other for a second. We have all, at some point in our lives, dealt with really bad ‘funks’. ‘Funks’ as in random phases we may find ourselves in where we deal with many different feelings and emotions, usually ones that aren’t so positive, that can feel consuming, recurring and pretty persistent.

Funks can be hard to handle and I know from my own personal experiences, that it can be helpful to have a coping strategy. For my more ’logical’ thinkers and planners out there, something that’s practical, a ‘road map’ if you will, to help us cope with our funks.

When I came across the picture below depicting how to can get out of a funk, I thought to myself “How helpful!”. It provides us with an easy route that we can take, along with simple yet important questions we can ask ourselves in the middle of a funky situation.

This weeks blog post is therefore going to be dedicated to a step-by-step strategy on “How to get out of a funk”.


Step 1. The first and best place to start anywhere, in any situation, is by being self-aware. Self-awareness is key here. Step 1 is about highlighting the importance of spending time alone, getting to know your own feelings and emotions, what triggers them and how they may personally manifest. To clarify – ‘How you particularly feel your feels’. Step 1 reminds us that we need to be aware of our own state of functioning. We need to be aware of our own ‘norms’ so that we are able to recognise when something within us feels ‘off’ and when we are feeling ‘not-so-good’. Once we can identify that deviation in our feelings, we can overcome it.

Step 2. Step 2 involves us asking ourselves “What am I feeling?”. Once we have recognised that we aren’t feeling like ourselves, step 2 helps us to pay attention to our exact feeling/s. This is a great question to begin asking ourselves because it gets us to stop, focus and spend more time thinking about our emotional state. We get the time to put a name to our feeling. Am I sad? Am I angry? Am I feeling embarrassed? Am I feeling stressed? Am I feeling anxious? Am I feeling tired?This is a very important step because when we can name what we’re feeling, it is easier to figure out the cause and if we can figure out what is causing our change in emotions, we can figure out the contributing factors that are making us feel a certain type of way.

Step 3. Step 3 reminds us to ask ourselves “Where do I feel it in my body?”. I feel as if this question accompanies the previous question in step 2. When we feel different emotions, we can usually feel the effects of them in different places in our bodies. They cause what is known as ‘physiological symptoms’. When we are sad, our hearts can feel like they are aching. When we are angry, our whole bodies can feel hot and shaky. When we are stressed or anxious, our stomachs can feel upset. When we are tired, our limbs can feel heavy and our eyes might burn. If we can identify how our bodies feel, it can be a clue as to what our emotions are trying to tell us and this can show us how we can cope with our so called ‘funks’.

Stso 4. Step 4 includes some self-talk time – a very important step and a follow up on last weeks blog post titled “Kind words”. When we are in the middle of a funk, the best thing for us to do is to talk to ourselves, in a kind, encouraging, supportive and understanding way, as if we are having a conversation with a close friend/family member. This step helps us to sit back and ask ourselves, “What could I say to myself in this moment right now?”. We can ask ourselves “What do I need to hear?” or “If someone was listening, how would I be able to explain what I am experiencing?”. This step allows us to take a seemingly negative experience and to respond in a positive way. (For some more suggestions on kind phrases you could say to yourself during a funk, read last weeks blog post called “Kind Words” for more information)

Step 5. Step 5 is all about focusing on the mind and our mindset. This step allows us, during a negative experience, to ask ourselves a positive question. “What might this experience be teaching me?”. I think that this step is one of the most important steps because it gives us the chance to change our perspectives. Instead of focusing on how our funk may be negatively impacting us, we get to change our circumstances into something more helpful. It is a chance for us to look for the good in the situation. It also allows us the time to learn and grow – to build our resilience.

Step 6. Step 6 is about focusing on our needs, right now in the present. After all, we won’t be able to accomplish the most minimal of tasks if our basic needs aren’t taken care of first. Now that we have figured out what we are feeling and maybe the cause of it, along with the chance of responding to our situation in a kind and encouraging way while we also change our perspectives for the better, we can focus on what we are needing. Could we possibly be needing a glass of water or coffee, a nap, a healthy meal, a slow walk in nature, sitting in sunshine, the company of a good friend, cuddling a pet, taking some time out to be creative, a bubble bath or maybe even reaching out for help? Whatever it is, it is so important to cater to our needs, especially through acts of self-care, self-love and self-management.

Step 7. Step 7, I believe, gives us the space to put into place the act of catering to our needs. Once we can figure out what our needs are in step 6, we can do something small, a basic act, to meet our most apparent need by asking ourselves “What tiny step can I take to meet my need?”. It may involve small, simple tasks, but can also include practical tasks like creating a study schedule, a meal plan, a workout plan or writing out a list of goals. This step can also involve reaching out for help when your ‘funk’ feels too overwhelming or if you feel as if you can’t cope.

The following example will aim to depict the most basic scenario of how one can incorporate the 7 steps when dealing with a particularly not-so-groovy experience:

You have noticed that you have not been feeling like yourself lately, that you have been feeling unmotivated and more down than usual. You have noticed that you haven’t been sleeping as peacefully at night as you usually do. You have also identified that your stomach feels like it’s in knots, you’ve been getting frequent headaches and you haven’t had much of an appetite lately. You have realised that you usually feel this way when you are stressed. This makes sense to you because you have an assignment/project/very important test due in the upcoming weeks and the thought alone makes you feel a bit queezy. You respond to this thought by telling yourself that it is okay to feel this way, it is in fact, quite a normal response and you have overcome many situations like this before. You have realised that overcoming stressful situations can build your resilience and that this experience is personally teaching you how to take care of yourself during stressful circumstances. You decide that you need more rest because you haven’t been getting enough sleep lately and when you feel tired, your emotions are easily triggered. You also decide to put more time a side in your day to take a nap as your tiny step to meet your most current need. This helps you to feel more energetic, motivated and disciplined when preparing for your upcoming responsibilities, giving you more time to prepare. The more you find yourself preparing, the calmer you feel and you start to notice your ‘funk’ fading away.

I find that this ‘strategy’, when experiencing your own personal funk, can be quite useful. It simplifies what can sometimes feel like a messy situation. It shines a light on a pathway one can use to cope with certain overwhelming circumstances. I believe that we all sometimes need a little bit of guidance, a light that provides direction or a helping hand when we find ourselves in a darker place than usual.

5 things that have helped me get out of a funk:

  1. Doing things that make me happy
  2. Spending time with people that make me feel supported and understood
  3. Reaching out for help and seeing a counsellor
  4. Being more organised – making sure my room/environment is clean, having a healthy, balanced schedule and simple goals to reach for each day
  5. Praying

Thank you for reading xx