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I see you there, Mama. Grinding it out day after day. Most days we love it. From the 6am crawl into bed with you snuggles, right down to the “Night night Mama, I love you Mama” at the end of the day.
But some days that 6am alarm clock whines and it feels like you just closed your eyes a second ago. You review your day’s plans in your head and barely find the motivation to swing your legs over the bed. Groceries, laundry, drop offs & pick ups, cooking, cleaning. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Most days we have faith that all this grinding is worth the struggle. But some days it’s hard to find the motivation to put one scrub brush in front of the other.
These are our funk days. They’re a natural part of this challenging stage of life raising up the littles. But we mamas don’t have a lot of time to be funky.
When the funk arrives, we need to let it know in no uncertain terms that it is unwelcome. Mosey on your way, funk, don’t set up shop here.
How To Get Out of a Funk
To get back to feeling the joy and excitement of day to day life, we just need to do a little mental housekeeping. Here’s how to spring clean your mind and how to get out of a funk.
Get a Good Pregame Routine
The first step of how to get out of a funk is to avoid getting into one in the first place. That requires a good pregame routine.Avoid getting into a funk in the first place with a good pregame routine. Click To Tweet
My husband was a great baseball pitcher even trying to go pro at one point. That meant he played a lot of games, for years, regardless of his mental condition.
So how do athletes and other people who have to perform do that even when they’re in a funk? Conditioning, both mental and physical. They condition their mind to make their body perform no matter how they’re feeling.
Pregame routines are the key to this conditioning. If you take the same steps every time before you have to perform, you will trigger your game face automatically.
For my husband, this meant warming up with arm swings after listening to Welcome to the Jungle & Enter Sandman. Even if he felt terrible right before the game, by the second verse of Jungle he was ready to take out the competition.
Moms can pregame too. Maybe not with Guns & Roses (but if that’s your jam, then rock it!). For me, I learned I have to wake up before my kids do to get my head on straight. My pregame is to brush my teeth, wrap up in this awesome cashmere shawl from my father-in-law, and get my coffee. Then I feel armed and ready for the day, even if my kids wake up earlier than I expected.
Here are the keys to a good pregame routine:
(1) Make it too easy to not do. Teeth, wrap, coffee. How can I even say no?
(2) Incorporate movement. I have to get up and walk across the house to get my coffee and stand and wait while it brews. Sometimes I do 20 jumping jacks to get my heart pumping too. Notice my pregame is not to stay in bed and scroll facebook.
(3) Do it every morning. No skipping.
Eventually, just starting your pregame will trigger your mind that it’s time to engage now. Moms have to perform in all circumstances too.
Act As If
What if your pregame didn’t work? What if this is just one of those days that your mind refuses to cooperate? Well, sometimes performers have to pretend.
This may seem harsh in today’s “honor your feelings” culture but it’s really not. Sure, we can honor that we feel funky and acknowledge that it’s totally normal. But honor doesn’t get the kids fed or off to preschool.
This article is about how to get out of a funk. Not about how to honor and wallow in a funk. If you want out, you sometimes have to pretend that you’re already out.
If you act as if you feel happy and engaged in the joys of daily living, that joy might just creep up on you out of the blue. Because you are performing your mom job even though you don’t really feel like it, you will get the chance to change your mindset. Any of the experiences or interactions that day could alter your state of mind.If you act as if you feel the joys of daily living, joy might just creep up on you out of the blueClick To Tweet
For example, maybe you went to the PTA meeting even though you really wanted to Netflix & coma. If you didn’t go, you wouldn’t have met that cool mom with the dinosaur-eating-your-stick-family bumper sticker. If you hadn’t acted as if you actually wanted to be there, she wouldn’t have chatted you up, spilling the beans about the best 1st grade teachers for next year and inviting you to her chicks with sticks meet up.
When you act as if, you show up. Showing up means you get to play the game. And playing is how you get out of a funk.
Attitude of Gratitude
So no one cool showed up to the PTA meeting and you got stuck running the walk-a-thon over Spring Break. Now what?
Here’s where we get all Oprah on this funk. Adopt an attitude of gratitude.
It can be so hard when it feels like the world is piling on. Luckily, all you need is three things you’re grateful for to turn this funk back into fun. Daily gratitude lists have been shown to increase self-esteem, energy, deepen our relationships, improve productivity, make our marriage healthier, and more. I personally want on that train!
But don’t just cop out and say “my partner, my kids, my house.” Sure, we’re all grateful for those things. But try to think of something specific that happened that day that you’re grateful for.
It’s easy to be grateful for big generalities. But finding the silver lining in the specific black cloud you are currently under is how you get out of a funk.
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Connect & Contribute
Momming can be a lonely practice. To borrow from Ms Ani DiFranco, you “crawl out on a limb and begin to build a home. It’s enough just to look around and know that you’re not alone.”
But sometimes it’s not enough to just look around. We need to talk to people too. Connecting with friends and family releases the happy brain chemical oxytocin, a/k/a funk’s mortal enemy.
Connecting can mean venting about your black cloud, but to double down on the mental boost, try being of service to your friend. Contributing to their lives, even if it just means listening to them vent instead, will at the least distract you from your funk. More likely though, you’ll feel better for being useful and find you’ve gotten rid of the funk for good.
Move a Muscle, Change a Thought
Spring is a tough season for exercise. In winter, there’s little else to do but hit the gym. In summer, the threat of wearing swimsuits in public is enough to motivate most people to work out.
But the shoulder seasons, spring and fall, are full of extra school activities, volatile weather and schedules, and calm sunny days where you just bask on a chair instead of run on a treadmill.
However, exercise is another powerful oxytocin release. So it’s important to keep moving even as the seasons change.
Having an exercise pregame can help keep you on track. But also, try to find something fun that you want to do for exercise. I know, totally revolutionary.
So many people get stuck in a rut on the elliptical watching boring TV shows and then wonder why they don’t want to exercise regularly.
Try something new, like hiking before it gets too hot. Or even better, set a crazy goal for yourself like doing a color run or a trail competition like tough mudder. Level up on the mental boost by roping some friends into training with you and say, buh-bye funk.
But didn’t you just tell me to move my body? Yup, but often “the opposite of a great truth also true.” Thank you Gretchen Rubin.
Meditation can improve physical and mental health, happiness and even slowing the signs of aging. But it can be daunting when we think we have to sit on a pillow on the floor for 20 minutes to see any benefit. The key is to find a meditation practice that works for you.
Try a simple 5 minute meditation for a few days to see if turning inward is the answer for how to get out of a funk. The Calm Meditation app is a great guided or unguided meditation tool to help you find stillness.
Level up by trying a loving kindness meditation to get that empathy and connection with others hit too.
Engage in Radical Self-Care
Finally, right? I’m going to tell you to get a pedicure. Took me long enough!
Sometimes what we need is just to break the monotony of caretaking by taking some luxuriating time to ourselves. Get a massage, read a book, or sit in a cafe and have lunch without anyone screaming at you.
The reason this tip isn’t first on my list is because (a) it’s hard to find time to take this long break and (b) there are many more powerful tricks out there for how to get out of a funk.
But, if you’ve gone through everything else and you’re still funky, definitely try to pamper yourself. Mama needs taking care of too sometimes.
Boost your mental health hit by inviting a friend to join you for your pedicure and lunch. But don’t let it stop you if you can’t find anyone to come with!
Double your boost by doing something a little more productive than nail care. Building on a passion project where we see real, tangible results can be just the thing to pull us out of a funk.
Ride it Out or Get Help
If there’s any constant in life, it’s that everything changes. That goes for emotions too. If you have a stubborn funk, know that this too shall pass. Moods come and go, and funks are natural in this challenging life of raising small children.
That said, if you have a funk that just won’t go away, and all the self-care tips in the world aren’t budging it, seek help. There is no shame in talking to a therapist or your doctor. Sometimes we just can’t fix everything on our own, Mamas, and that goes for fixing ourselves too.Sometimes we just can’t fix everything on our own, Mamas, and that goes for fixing ourselves too.Click To Tweet
“If you want rainbows, you have to put up with the rain.” So said Dolly Parton, Queen of the happy giggle. Even she knew that funks are a natural part of life.
But you don’t have to put up with an ark-level deluge of rain. If you find yourself in a funk act quickly with these tips to nip it in the bud before it deepens. Spring clean your mind to make it inhospitable to funks and they won’t want to stick around.
Each time you flex your mental muscles to change your mood, they will get stronger and your mood will change more quickly. Keep practicing! And let me know your tips for how to get out of a funk in the comments!
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