Life Got You in a Funk? 15 Ideas to Nourish Your Spirit
This week I bought myself flowers at the grocery store, and I placed them in a white pitcher in the middle of our dining room table. For as little as $5, the bouquet of sweet cheerful, lavender-colored daisies immediately boosts my spirits every time I walk by.
The truth is I’ve struggled to find my way out of a funk that has held me in a tight grip for the past couple of months. Admittedly, winter is hard. It’s cold. It’s dark. Transitioning from the holidays to back-to-school doesn’t help, creating frustrating parenting challenges. And on top of that, I received disappointing news that sucked the wind out of my sails. Normally, I’m pretty resilient, but life continued to feel off center as we headed into February. And then…another school shooting.
I know I’m not alone. All I have to do is hop onto social media and I can see so many friends are frustrated, confused, anxious or hurting right now— for all kinds of reasons.
Here are some ways I’ve been nourishing my spirit over the past eight weeks. I’m slowly starting to inch my way around the curve. Maybe one of these ideas will help you too.
Rest. The darkness and cold of winter left me feeling weary and run down. And like so many families, the flu, colds and various other ailments ran crazy eights through our household. I surrendered to the moment, letting go of items on my to-do list that could be done later when my energy returned. Take a cat nap, go to bed early, or simply rest with your eyes closed for a 15 minutes.
Tip: If worries are keeping you from sleeping, write them down in a worry journal. Before you put your journal away, write down three things that you are grateful for from the day. Spray lavender essential oil mixed with water around your bedroom. Then, lights out.
Collect the good stuff. In the midst of one particularly bad week in January, I received a brief note from an editor telling me how much she enjoyed my work. The note was totally out of the blue—and it fortified me when my confidence was low. Save the positive things people tell you and refer to them when you’re having a tough day. I also collect inspiring quotes, comforting recipes and uplifting essays.
Tip: Create a Pinterest board with items that inspire you.
Make lists. No, not to-do lists which can only serve to overwhelm a tired, tender spirit. Instead make lists that answer questions like: Wouldn’t it be amazing if…? What are my dreams? What do I need less of in order to get more of what I want in my life? What am I grateful for? Who am I grateful for? What did I notice today? Or simply list your favorite books, movies, people, music, etc.
Tip: Set aside a special notebook just for your lists.
Disconnect. I’ve become more deliberate about how much time I spend on social media, which I noticed was sucking away time and energy from my priorities and contributing a fair amount of anxiety. That time has freed up more space for me to enjoy creative pursuits that re-energize me like journaling, collaging, drawing, and photography.
Tip: When you are on social media, fill your feed with inspiring people and energizing groups.
Listen. I’ve been forcing myself to limit my news intake and switch to upbeat music. Meditation is another area I’m working on to quiet racing thoughts and tune into my intuition.
Tip: Check out the many mindfulness apps available like Calm, Headspace and Stop Panic and Anxiety
Get away. After talking to my dad recently, he reminded me that sometimes it helps to travel somewhere fun. I took his advice and asked a good friend of mine if she’d like to finally schedule that girls’ trip we’ve been talking about. Now, I get to look forward to a fun getaway to a destination I’ve never before explored!
Tip: Schedule an overnight retreat somewhere to help you recharge.
Read. I have a stack of books and magazines that not only help inform my writing, but also inspire me and engage my imagination. What types of books gives you a healthy break from the day to day?
Tip: Follow your favorite authors online for quick hits of inspiration.
Relax. Some winter days I just can’t relax or warm up. On days like that, my go-to is a warm, soothing bath.
Tip: Schedule a massage, hot stone treatment, manicure or pedicure or forget scheduling and visit a walk-in spa.
Seek deeper conversation. At the beginning of the year, I started scheduling at least one social outing per week, like lunch, coffee or a glass of wine with a friends. I need conversation—deeper than small talk—to feel a sense of connection with others. I need to hash out what’s on my mind and listen to what’s on other people’s minds to better process what is happening in life. I made it a priority to attended my book club, which meets every six weeks, and also volunteered for a couple of activities through my kids’ school. Even a phone call from a good friend makes a difference.
Tip: Email or text a friend today and schedule a coffee or lunch. All you need is an hour.
Give. A simple pleasure is doing something for someone else just because you want to. Maybe it’s emailing a thoughtful note or posting a kind comment from someone who doesn’t expect it.
Tip: Mail a funny card to a friend or pay the tab for the customer behind you in the drive-thru.
Exercise. I started a regular weights work out again, and I continue to walk as much as weather permits outside. Fresh air, sunshine and nature can brighten an otherwise damp mood.
Tip: Part of healthy living is feeding your body well. Choose colorful berries, winter vegetables and comforting soups.
Play. Write, cook, collage, paint, or grab your camera. Play with your creativity. Forget perfection or you’ll hamper the process. When I’m involved in a creative project, I forget time and I feel an overall sense of well-being for having shown up and forgotten the world for a bit.
Tip: Play with your family too — have a game night, goof off and get outside together.
Declutter. Stuff often creates stuck energy in our lives. I’m in the process of decluttering and I can already feel energetic shifts happening.
Tip: Grab a bag and go around the house and pick up something from each room that you are ready to give away or discard.
Lighten up, Francis. I’m reading Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life again and was reminded of the scene in the movies Stripes when we’re introduced to Francis, a super intense recruit. (Here’s the clip.) At the end of the clip, the first sergeant says to him, “Lighten up, Francis.” Now, when I’m feeling down in the dumps or putting too much pressure on myself, I tell myself to “lighten up, Francis” and it makes me smile every time.
Tip: Post your own favorite mantra on your calendar or on your computer to remind yourself to not take life too seriously.
Laugh. With all of the noise, chatter, vitriolic opinions and chaos in the world right now, it’s easy to get mired in everything that isn’t going right. Sharing silly memes and videos on social media, spending time with friends who make you laugh and watching laugh out loud sitcoms helps.
Tip: Set your DVR to record reruns of your favorite sitcoms or funny movies and watch when you need a break.
** Note: Depression and anxiety are serious health conditions. Please consult your physician if you continue to struggle.**
Now it’s your turn? What are ways you nourish your spirit when you are in a funk?
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