Getting Over Nasty Funks!

I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for some time. This summer dealt me some nasty funk, but the nasty funk also helped me to clean up my standard operating procedures for getting over bad times. This is not to say that the bad times are over; I think there are still going to be some days in the months to come when I feel particularly vulnerable. But happiness is, sometimes, a choice.

I don’t mean to say that in the way The Worst Advice in the World is, “Snap out of it!” Because there are going to be times when no matter how much you want to be happy, you get confused about what would get you there, and this makes the choice all the harder. I mean that in the sense that sometimes you have to be your own sunshine and make your own battle plan to achieve your own happiness.
Photo credit: Pinterest
There are good days, when I find myself smiling and laughing and loving my life. This Monday evening was one of them. I miraculously won a pass to a Meet & Greet session with the lovely dancer, Miko Fogarty. I didn’t know what to expect to come away with when I arrived: while I love ballet, I harbour no aspirations (delusions) of becoming a professional ballet dancer, and talk of performances and competitions seemed quite exclusive to me.

Miko at Prix de Lausanne. Original photo credit: Gregory Batardon
I didn’t expect to hear this: that Miko, an amazingly dedicated and disciplined dancer, has bad days too. She went through a bad funk of her own when she was thirteen or fourteen, when she felt burnt out with the pressure of school and dance. Hearing her talk about her experience and how she dealt with it really resonated with me.

I’ve compiled a few tips I remember from the session below, as well as a list of my own from what I’ve learnt the past few months:

Miko’s tips

1.   “Allow yourself to have bad days, but always remember to reset the next morning.”
I think it’s important to recognize that everyone has moments of weaknesses, and it’s not always your fault. You have to extend to yourself the same kindness and compassion you would extend to others, and that includes allowing yourself to have the bad day, and acknowledging all the nasty emotions you are feeling. The important thing, however, is to reset. Every brand new morning is a gift, unencumbered by yesterday’s sorrows. 

Photo credit: Pinterest
2.   Get inspired.
Even amazing ballerinas have days when they run out of inspiration. I remember a piece of advice I once received on law school, which is that you shouldn’t be worried if you’re doing badly; you should only be worried if you stop loving what you’re doing. There are some days in ballet when I really want to quit. I think of all the odds which are stacked against my favour (I’m too old/ I’m too fat/ there are so many people better than me) and think that there is no point going on. But then I go home and watch a few videos of my favourite ballerinas on YouTube and think, “Ahhh. This is why I’m staying.” If you can, and as Miko suggests: watch a live show. (Or create a new Pinterest board. This totally counts.)

3.   Meditate.
Sometimes you can literally feel a knot of tension in you. But it’s important to find some quiet time with only yourself to sort out that knot; to lay it flat, and lay it to rest. I find myself doing this on long bus rides, in pockets of time in the afternoon, or even just before I go to sleep. 

Amy Poehler always knows what to say. Photo credit: Pinterest
4.   Sleep!
Miko identified one of the root problems of her stress as a lack of sleep over time. It’s important to know the controllable factors which may be causing you to react in a certain way. Sleep is always good. I always find that problems are easier to deal with after a good night’s rest.

My own tips

1.   Create your own playlist.
I think over time you get a sense of which songs make you feel which way, and which songs you reach out to when you want comfort or an extra burst of sunshine. Please file all these songs away into a playlist, either on YouTube or Spotify or whatever you fancy, and pull them out whenever necessary. Music really does wonders to lift (or worsen) your mood; pick judiciously!

For a soothing song which sometimes makes me cry but also feels like a mother’s hug when I’m alone at hostel, “Someone’s Waiting For You” (Shelby Flint) is wonderful.

For somewhat aggressive, power-tripping songs, I like “Run the World (Girls)” (Beyoncé); “I Love It” (Icona Pop ft. Charlie XCX); and “Really Don’t Care” (Demi Lovato).

For healing, happy songs, “Gonna Get Over You” (Sara Bareilles) is absolutely great (she did a mash-up of that song with "Forget You", it’s fabulous!). Also try “Now is the Start” by A Fine Frenzy.

Edit: how could I forget?! Tori Kelly's "Unbreakable Smile" helped me through a lot. It's hard to resist smiling through this one.

You can find the playlist I made here.

2.   Reach out.
I think it’s very easy, when you’re down, to shut yourself up against the world and not let anyone in. It can be very hard to talk about the problem (or problems). But at the same time it is truly amazing what nasty funks can reveal about the people around you. For me, it revealed that I have the best friends ever. One of my best friends arranged a surprise get together with all my closest friends in law school, just for me. The same best friend and a couple others would allow me to call them randomly in the middle of nowhere, just to hear me whine (and sometimes cry) on the other side.

Don’t shy away from making social plans, either. I had great times meeting up with friends whom I wasn’t close enough to to share my problems with, but who nonetheless cheered me up wonderfully the way friends do: with plenty of shared memories and laughter.

3.   Try new things.
One of my best friends told me this, and I didn’t know how I was going to manage it, but when I look back I realize I’m now reading my first non-fiction book in ages (“Yes Please” by Amy Poehler, which so far, is laugh-out-loud funny and epiphany-causing at the same time), trying to improve my hand lettering with new pens and/or new methods, and sometimes dressing differently just for the heck of it (yes, this counts).

4.   When you’re ready- have a schedule.
Keep busy, and keep recognizing your accomplishments, even those which may seem very small or insignificant. The first day you wake up feeling amazing? That counts. Having tasks to tackle, and finishing them, can be a fabulous adrenaline kick all on its own. You are amazing, and you are going to feel amazing someday soon.

Photo credit: Pinterest
5.   Be your own sunshine.
I once read that smiling at yourself in the mirror, however forced, can really lift your mood. It sounds ridiculous, but on one of my worst days I woke up and told myself, “TODAY IS A BRAND NEW DAY AND YOU ARE AWESOME.” And it kinda worked. You have to be firm about loving yourself. 

Photo credit: Pinterest
On a related note, another avenue (haha) that really helped me through another nasty funk last year was this blog post by Avenue Maria. Maria is a lovely blogger from Australia who never fails to cheer me up.

This has turned into a super long post with probably more semi-colons and “wonderful”s than it ought to have, but I do hope it helped. If it has helped you, and you feel okay with it, let me know! I’d love to hear from you.


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