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Feeling down? Here’s how to get out of a funk

If you’re feeling unmotivated, down or not like yourself lately, you’re not alone. Many people are in a funk after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of people are in a funk right now—and I’ve noticed it getting worse as the pandemic continues,” says Angela Buttimer, MS, NCC, RYT, LPC, a licensed psychotherapist at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont. “I see even typically high-functioning, energized people feeling unmotivated.”

Buttimer recommends several ways to get out of a funk and feel better:

  • Move your body. Physical activity is so helpful because there are more neuroreceptors in the body than in the skull brain, she explains. Even five to 10 minutes of movement can improve your mood. “When you move your body, you send a message to your brain that you’re feeling better. Your brain will follow your body.”

  • Get fresh air. “Getting a breath of fresh air can be invigorating,” says Buttimer. A significant body of research shows the mental and physical benefits of nature.

  • Listen to upbeat music. Music can have a powerful effect on how you feel. “Find music that’s uplifting, motivating and positive,” she says. “Just one song can instantly change your mood.”

  • Mindfully consume content. Your brain has mirror neurons, which cause your thoughts to “mirror” the TV shows you watch, podcasts you listen to and books you read. Choose content that reflects how you want to feel.

  • Do something productive. Self-care is essential, says Buttimer, but too much rest can create malaise. Being engaged and productive can boost your energy.  

  • Spend time with a furry friend. “Research has shown that an animal’s playful nature has the power to lift a person’s mood and improve their immune function,” she says. If you don’t have a pet of your own, spend time with a friend’s pet.

  • Reflect on your habits. “During the pandemic, many people have self-medicated with poor nutrition, alcohol or drugs,” says Buttimer. “These activities may initially give you relief, but if you keep drinking or eating cookies, the serotonin hit you got at first won’t increase.” Instead, eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep can work wonders for your mood.

  • Connect with others. While you might have found value in alone time during the pandemic, it’s possible to overdo it. “Connect with friends who make you laugh and love and accept you unconditionally,” she says. “Just one conversation can turn around your mood.”

Get help if you’re in a funk

If you feel down or depressed, reach out to a professional for support, such as a physician, counselor or coach.

Buttimer also recommends getting tested for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. If you’re low on vitamin B, vitamin D or iron, it can lead to a lack of energy and demotivation, she says. Find a provider who looks at your whole health picture rather than only treating your symptoms.

“We all need support,” says Buttimer. “Find a coach, counselor or doctor who can help you. If they’re not the right fit, don’t assume it was a bad idea to seek help. When you find the right person, you can go from feeling bad to good or from feeling good to great.”

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