This morning, I was texting with a dear pastor friend of mine, who said this time of year is usually difficult for him, mentally. The strange thing is, my best friend and I have said the same thing for YEARS. August through October usually does something really weird to me, too. It sends me into a mental funk.
Not a spiral. But definitely a funk.
In fact, this is the first year in as long as I can remember that I haven’t been in one. But if you are...
5 Ways to Beat a Mental Funk via @iamsteveaustin #mentalhealth #selfcare #catchingyourbreath
If you are experiencing low energy, or are not in good spirits, you may want to consider altering your mindset. When you are down, it can be due to negative thoughts. You start to dwell on everything that is going wrong. You reflect that you aren’t where you thought you would be and it gives you a sinking feeling.
When you start to have negative thoughts, you are setting the stage to beat yourself down. What’s worse is this situation continues to grow. Negativity feeds on itself. When you put yourself down, you will eventually put others down. You will look for others who share your negativity because misery loves company. As the negative energy thrives, you fall deeper into the abyss of a mental funk.
To turn this around, you first have to realize that it’s happening. No one likes to admit to doing something wrong, but negative thinking is wrong if you are engaging in it. You have to try and reflect on your life. Think back to when you were happy. Was it a couple of months ago or a couple of years? That will give you a good indication of when you started with the negative thinking. When you were happy, it’s unlikely you were thinking negatively.
Once you have identified that you have a negative mindset, work hard to introduce positivity into your life. Set up a bad thoughts money jar and whenever you say something negative, put money into the jar. You can do this at work, at home, or both. When you see the jar filling up, you know you have more work to do.
Avoid other negative people as much as possible. They will try to bring you back down, and you may even let them do it. Limiting your exposure to these people is a great step to take on your journey towards positivity.
Oh, and go to therapy.
Don’t shoot the messenger - y’all know I love my whiskey! (Okay, and beer. And vodka. Stopppp!)
But let’s get real for a minute. Alcohol is a depressant. If you are using alcohol to try and pick you up during those dark and slow days, it may make the situation worse. It will end up doing the opposite as it will bring your spirits down. Worse, since you are not getting the pick-me-up that you hoped for you’ll continue to drink. By the end of the evening, you are drunk as well as depressed.
Hobbies are a good way to keep yourself occupied when you are in a mental funk. You can do these without using drugs or alcohol. Many hobbies involve other people which increases the fun. Don’t let alcohol or drugs be the first means of getting out of your funk. Look for other ways.
Stuck in a mental funk? Here's help. via @iamsteveaustin #selfcare #catchingyourbreath #mentalhealth
You have probably heard or read on numerous occasions that setting a routine is the best means of accomplishing your goals. That has some truth to it. It’s similar to creating habits where repetition is the way to develop them. Sometimes, however, this can cause you to get into a rut or a mental funk. You still need to maintain your routine but need something to break it as well.
Commit to trying something different. You could do this every day or commit once per week. The idea is to have something else interesting looking forward. That will help you when tackling your routines. You can think about that new event or activity while you are getting through your daily grind.
You can choose to do any new activities on your own, with other people or a combination of the two. It’s entirely up to you. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to include other people and to meet new people as part of that. When you meet new people, they will share ideas that can stir the pot for you. That is good.
You could join a sports team or go skydiving, but the activity doesn’t have to be full of adventure to break up your routine. For instance, perhaps you have always wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument and eventually join a band. That’s another great activity to add to your list. Another idea is to join a reading group. This activity is a mix of getting together with people and some alone time.
To get more ideas, join local groups that will update you whenever new events happen. The more groups you join, the more options you will have available to you. Be warned, however. You may start having some fun!
There is no shortage of stories about inspirational people. When you are feeling down, why not read about others who have overcome adversity? That can be a great way to pick up your mood.
Many stories will highlight the challenges the person went through and what steps they took to get there. Sometimes, it is hard to believe the people we admire ever acted in the manner described in their stories. However, those stories will make you realize they are just as human as everyone else. They will also help you break the barrier of thinking that you cannot achieve what they did. If that doesn’t improve your mood, it’s hard to imagine what could.
Use these inspirational stories whenever you are feeling down. It will help you see that your life isn’t as bad as you thought and it might even help you find some solutions. This last point is the most important. In many cases, you can use the stories as a roadmap on how you can solve your problems. They may not be the same, but just reading about them can spark ideas on how to go about solving any issues.
Try to read at least one story per week. Usually, the stories are relatively short, and you can read them within a couple of days. Sometimes, it’s even a good idea to read stories of people who you don’t admire, and you'll come up with some different ideas. You don’t have to agree with them, but it's good to diversify your sources.
My dear friend Robert Vore says depression and loneliness are a deadly cocktail. He’s right. If you’re feeling isolated and you’re already in a mental funk - it’s time to find or create a community. (It might also be time to talk to a therapist or call the Lifeline.)
If you’re not sure where to start, I’d love for you to consider joining my online community. We have group calls, individual calls, and a private Facebook group where you can connect with me and other safe people who long for meaningful conversation. Check out patreon.com/iamsteveaustin to get signed up today.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
Surviving Suicide: You are Not Alone
Podcast: When You Feel Like You Can’t Go On
7 Life Lessons from a Suicide Survivor
Living with Depression & Anxiety: 7 Coping Strategies that Work (e-book)
Guest Blog – Worthy and Unashamed: Facing Mental Health Stigma in the Church Head-On
This was Supposed to be the Last Day of My Life
How to Help Pastors with Suicidal Thoughts
What to do When Your Child Attempts Suicide
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