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Secret Life of an Expat: Get Up Outta that Funk [BEST OF FaN]

For my Fierce ReRun, I’d like to remind myself what to do when I’m slipping into a funk, because now that my job is over and I’m bumbling around the house, I feel one coming on. Best to nip it in the bud.

Originally published 11/04/10

Has anyone ever told you to take care of yourself? You know they’re saying it because you’re not at your best. You’re stressed, depressed, overworked, or tired. Personally, I’m in a funk right now. I don’t feel like doing anything but what I absolutely have to, and I’ve forgotten all the things I have to do. I’ve been through this many times before, and if I were to take care of myself, I would try to do one or all of the following:

1. exercise It may take time away from other stuff I think I should be doing, but the benefits are great: the sense of accomplishment for taking care of my body, the satisfying thigh ache the next day, stress reduction, oxygen to the brain makes it fire faster, endorphins lift my mood… you know all of this stuff already.

2. cut back on TV Sure, Mike and Molly has made me laugh out loud, but I often watch TV to tune out and get away from myself. Using those 22 minutes to actively engage in life will put me in a better state of mind, one that I won’t seek to avoid by watching more TV. If you really need distraction, start a new book.

Froot Loops will not help lift your mood, unless you use them to make jewelry. Photo by Mykl Roventine.

3. stop eating junk Even if it takes extra energy to prepare a salad instead of eating the kids’ sugary cereal for lunch, I always feel better when I get my greens and my grains. There are studies linking caloric intake to memory loss, and when I eat well, I feel much mentally sharper.

4. tidy up The clutter in my brain is directly reflected in the piles of dirty dishes, loose papers, and wires cluttering my desk, the unfolded laundry hanging downstairs, the chaos in the kitchen cupboards… it’s hard to face a new task when you’re surrounded by unfinished business. This goes equally for dealing with a late credit card payment, calling back the guy at the bank, and brushing the cat.

5. rewrite the to do list So you know what you could be doing instead of moping around. Write it in small, cross-off-able steps. Not, “clean the house” but “tidy desk, fold laundry, organize cupboards.”

6. battle procrastination If I have something unpleasant to do, it helps me to assign a time minimum of say, ten minutes. That’s all I have to do, ten minutes, and then it’s over for the day. Once I commit to doing it for a little while, I might just keep on going after the timer goes off. If not, at least I can feel good about starting it, and meeting my ten minute goal.

Photo by Cyron

7. pamper at home It’s in all the beauty magazines, do a facial mask, take a bubble bath, give yourself a manicure, shave your legs or face for the first time in weeks, floss… Whatever you need.

8. find something to look forward to Whether it be throwing a dinner party, planning a weekend away, or discovering a new toy to covet (11” MacBook Air, anyone?), setting something fun on the horizon is happy fodder for day dreaming at idle moments.

9. make that appointment (massage/acupuncture/therapy/dentist/headhunter/haircut)  I want to try acupuncture to help fight stress. I located an acupuncturist in my town, searched for reviews, wrote down her address and phone number and everything—but none of that will help me if I don’t call for an appointment.

10. do something creative Following a recipe may not be the most creative thing in the world, but when I’m pulling myself out of a funk, cooking is often the first creative thing I can manage. It puts me through the motions of making something and I get to eat the results. The process usually lifts me enough to to return to my writing or artwork afterward.

Et voilà. What do you do to take care of yourself and pull out of a funk?