Happy Friday, loves!
Do you ever find yourself in a total funk? It’s like a weird place where you’re present in life, but you feel almost as if you’re looking at your life unfolding before you from up above; almost like a dream, if I’m putting it into a tangible concept. You can’t put your finger on the issue that’s causing your funk because you don’t really have anything to complain about. You don’t really have any issues, but yet you don’t know what the problem is that’s got you feeling as if you’re watching life unfold before you.
I spent the better part of the end of June/beginning of July in a funk. Some might say it’s because it was almost ‘that time,’ (ladies, you know), and I won’t disagree. Some months are just more difficult in that specific timeframe than others. However, it’s just not uncommon for me to find myself in a funk more often than not in the summer months.
You guys, I don’t like being hot. Rich, I know, coming from a Floridian. In all honesty, I feel as if I go through bouts of seasonal depression this time of year. it might not be truly ‘depression,’ so much as it is bouts of just blah feelings that don’t bring me much joy. I certainly don’t want to minimize the severity of seasonal depression, but I do want to bring attention to the fact that much like those who do go through that feeling in the cold winter months (not in Florida!), I feel some of the same things on a much less serious level in the summer. Why?
- The long days are not my favorite
- The afternoon sunlight – from about 1 pm to dusk – during summer is such an unattractive color that bothers me endlessly
- The heat is stifling
- The humidity is nothing short of oppressive
- The way it feels so sticky following the rain is so gross
- I hate sweat
- I don’t like to feel hot
- I don’t like that it’s just so gross outside the kids can’t even play outdoors and enjoy themselves because it’s miserably hot and dangerously humid
I know it’s the unpopular opinion, but I’m simply not a summer fan. Don’t get me wrong – I love summer in that it’s such a time of freedom and relaxation. I love that there is no responsibility in summer. I love the feeling of easiness and slow enjoyment summer brings. I love that the kids are so relaxed. I love afternoon thunderstorms – they give me so much life and so much joy – and river house days and pool days and summer nights. I love the Fourth of July. I love so much about summer except for summer itself. I love the summer mornings and the way the morning sun looks pouring in our doors and windows. I love the mornings in summer. It’s just that darn afternoon sunlight that brings me down. I can’t explain it. I just feel blah in the afternoons during summer, and sometimes I find myself in a funk if we have endless days of sunshine. My funk immediately disappears when the sun is gone and the rain comes in the afternoon. Which, I believe, is why the end of June and beginning of July were funk weeks for me – too much sunshine and weeks without a cloud in the sky.
I’ve already got my countdown to the official fall season (which begins September 1st in my house). It brings me life and endless good moods until June rolls around again. Honestly, I might as well be useless for three months from June through the end of August. But, in in all honestly, I want to be transparent and honest. This is not a good time of year for my attitude, and I know that. I know it every year. I don’t know how to change that, so I just do my very best to focus on finding small ways to help improve my blasé attitude in the afternoons throughout summer.
Maybe this will help someone who has the same issue. Maybe it will help someone who really doesn’t live their best life too often. Maybe it will help someone who has the same guilt and feelings of ‘what is wrong with me?’ that I deal with off and on for the three longest months of the year. I know I have nothing to complain about. I know I have nothing to worry about. I know I have nothing to stress me out. Yet, I find myself really down sometimes for a few hours in the afternoon.
So, here’s what I’ve been implementing this year. I’ve asked my doctor for suggestions, I’ve asked around, I’ve done my research, and there are a few things that have really minimized my ‘summer afternoon seasonal down-ness’ significantly this summer.
I check in with myself
At the beginning of the week, I do a quick check-in with myself. I do this Monday morning prior to doing anything else (save for hitting snooze once or twice and then making a cup of coffee and meandering into my office). I sit down with my journal and write down the following:
- My priority for the week
- What I want to do less of this week
- What I want to do more of this week
- How I want to feel this week
- How I can make sure I feel this way this week
- What I’d like to remember in moments of ‘down-ness’
Throughout the week, I check on that list to make sure I’m doing what I can to make it as realistic as possible. It’s important for me to remember that this is not a list of major goals. It’s a simple priority list. What I need the most that week is my priority, and it doesn’t matter if it’s big, small, minor, simple, life-changing, etc. It’s just the priority I need to focus on any given week.
Change negative thinking
I’m not immune to negative thoughts. No one is, if we are being honest. However, I try hard to make sure they don’t linger. I try to stop them in their tracks. It’s not always easy for me since I’m a creative person by nature, and my mind tends to run away quickly and efficiently a thousand miles a minute (writer’s hazard, I suppose). I don’t even notice when my mind turns to the negative until it’s been there a few moments, but I’m learning to recognize, realize, and refocus quickly.
Trust me – it’s a habit that takes time to develop.
Breathing is what helps me most. I learned in my favorite yoga class to try five count breathing when I need to slow down my racing mind (and heart) and refocus myself. Sit quietly, close your eyes, count to five slowly while inhaling, hold your breath for a count of five, exhale slowly for a count of five. Repeat until you find yourself at peace. It helps rearrange your thoughts and refocus your feelings. Trust me, it’s effective.
Write down happy thoughts. This is another helpful tool. Writing down a few things that bring me joy is a quick and simple way to change my pattern of thought. Again, this doesn’t have to be a long list of beautiful things that make you happy. It can be the simplest thing. The only rule is that it must be something that brings you joy.
Stop and do something else
There are times when I’m feeling myself in a funk, and I just need to stop what I’m doing in that moment. Sometimes this means putting things to the side and leaving the house. Maybe a family dinner out. Maybe a family walk. Maybe a quick game of cards or Yahtzee with the kids. A second workout for the day. A conversation with someone I love. Sometimes, the best thing I do for myself is put down what I’m doing and make my way into the office to sit down on my husband’s lap and interrupt his work for a long hug. I mean, what’s better?
You don’t even want to know how many rambling thoughts I have written down. In notebooks. On pieces of paper I find in my desk. On my computer. On my iPad. On the notes section of my phone. In email drafts. The best therapy is a writing session. Don’t worry about grammar or form or function or readability. Just write. Write what’s on your mind, what’s on your heart, what’s in your life. You don’t even have to know what you are writing. The simple fact that you’re able to take those thoughts and put them somewhere outside your brain is a kind of release that is literally freeing.
Remember that it’s okay to feel less than perfect
It’s hard, I know, to fully comprehend that everyone goes through down days. It’s not easy to remember that you are not alone. It’s not easy to remember that most people keep their bad days to themselves. You are not alone. You are not by yourself in this. Everyone has off days. Just look at me – I have off weeks during the summer because it’s just hot and miserable and not my favorite. But, the good news is that you can change that. You can easily turn a blah day around, get out of a funk, and focus on far better things. It’s easier said than done, but it’s going to become habit to quickly turn your thoughts around.
***Also, please remember that while a funk might occasionally be a normal thing to feel, and having a bad day or a grouchy day, or a PMS-y week might be totally normal, feelings of absolute darkness, despair, dangerous or harmful thoughts, and the inability to find the joy in anything are indicative of a major health concern; please call your doctor if you experience any of these feelings. He or she can help you figure out what’s going on, run tests to see if there is anything going on in your body you cannot see, and they can help you work through this. I am not a doctor, I do not have experience with serious mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, and my suggestions are not medically based in any capacity.