Monday, August 9, 2010

Breaking the Funk

I'm the type of person who, despite an inherent lazy streak, really just does not like being idle. I'm not the kind of person who can sit for hours watching TV. Even being an idle passenger in a car is frustrating and almost painful for me; I'm just honestly not happy if I can't somehow justify what I'm doing as being productive (come on, trawling egl_comm_sales is TOTALLY blog research!) Unfortunately, that leads to an even more uncomfortable sensation: Burn out. Neglecting my friends and family, slacking off at work, getting snippy with my boyfriend - all of these are really A-plus ways to make you feel utterly crappy about yourself and everything else. I've been in a slump recently, and I can tell that it's entirely the fault of this hectic summer: juggling school, work, friends, and the project I've been working on since June (to be announced this week or next!) began has drained me so much that I didn't even notice. I had been running off adrenaline, just going from one task to the next, and it wasn't until my summer class ended and I found myself actually having free time again that I even realized what I'd been doing. It was like when I was working at a smoothie shop full time; fast-paced, frenzied work every morning, a nap when I got home, dinner, school or schoolwork, sleep. Rinse and repeat.

Sure, there's a certain rush to living that life, the go-go-go-quadruple-espresso-no-foam-skim-latte life, but eventually the caffeine rush will fade and the near-catatonic listlessness that ensues is what you'll ultimately remember, and what will ultimately count. It was when I was sitting here a few minutes ago, staring vapidly into a blank computer screen, that I realized what was happening to me. Horror of all horrors, I was becoming another listless desk-zombie! This cannot continue. I had to remind myself of how to break my funk - quickly, before waters get deeper and things get dire.

Breathe. Step one, just breathe. Close your eyes - you know those deep, cleansing breaths you've heard so much about? Now's the time to use them. Take a moment, forget the world, and just be.

Slow down. You've heard of the Slow Food movement, right? Why stop at food? Live a slow life, at least for a moment. Sit down, look out the window; watch the birds playing or the bare branches twitching in the wind. Listen to the sound of cars, or the absolute stillness of the snow-covered ground. Forget about everything else - the Yahoo!Japan bidding war, the homework you haven't finished, the fact that tomorrow will be another day of your angry boss or that annoying old man getting on your case. Take a moment to just observe, without judgment, the inherent beauty of this world we've been blessed with.

Sing and laugh. Both release endorphins, so even if you didn't feel like doing it before you started, you'll be shocked at the feeling of calm bliss that they can cause.

Surprise yourself. The most successfully I've pulled myself out of a funk was in February of 2008. I was wandering a not-so-safe street in my city, in the bitter cold, living through the eternal existential crisis that is being human. All of a sudden I found myself standing in front of the better of two tattoo shops in town; in my wallet was the lotus I'd drawn myself eight months earlier. I decided the time for rumination was over. I walked into the tattoo shop, and fate, as She does, gave me a sign that my choice was right: The receptionist had just hung up with a cancellation; would an hour and a half from now be okay? Two hours later I had my first tattoo, a spring in my step, and hope that maybe the universe really was looking out for me.

Love something. The risk is thrilling; the positivity is worth it; the outcome will be breathtaking, no matter what. Love loves love, so only positivity can come from love... and no matter how many times love hurts me, I know she'll never leave me truly alone.

Create yourself a sanctuary and keep it inside of you. A little bit of sunshine you can escape into: a photograph of a Caribbean island you saw once, a memory of running through a field as a child, or the promise of a hot cup of tea when you finally come home. ("Come home" - don't those words just fill you with serenity? It makes me think of a lover over the phone, inviting her darling to her bedside)

Find a mantra and repeat it whenever things get hard. Mine is, "When it hurts too much, take solace in the fact that not only did you survive, you thrived." It's so easy to let negativity affect you; the world seems like it's out to get us at every turn. However, if you can find a positive message that resonates with you, it will fill you with the strength to fight the little battles that you find always come when you're at your worst; your most tired, most stressed, least positive. That's when they attack: be prepared to fight back.


  1. Thank you SO much!
    I've been feeling the exact same way this summer :[

  2. Man, when I do the whole "running around like a chicken with my head cut off" routine I normally end up getting ill before I notice I should probably take a breather.

    Your advice is all similar to what I do when I am having a panic attack, maybe you were just having a two-month long panic attack? It certainly sort of sounds like it.

  3. I needed to read this right about now. I'm trying to reclaim some peace in my hectic life.



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