As busy people with spouses, kids, jobs, responsibilities, we’re all bound to fall into a funk from time-to-time — a phase when we feel dejected, overwhelmed, ungrateful, unappreciated or just plain blah, sometimes for no good reason. So what can we do about it? Ride it out? Throw up our hands? Yell at our kids? Kick the dog? Drown our sorrows?
What to do?
I presented that question to 10 people I consider spiritually grounded, wise, virtuous and generally upbeat; while at the same time, in touch with the real world, including priests, parents, a religious sister and a psychologist.
Here is a compilation of their advice for curing a funk.
10 Ways to Get Out of a Funk
Move your alarm clock across the room and set it to go off 30 minutes earlier. Invite God into your morning routine more intentionally. Read the daily Mass readings over coffee, download inspiring talks on an iPod and get out for a morning walk or run, and pray with and bless your spouse and children before leaving. Leave the house earlier and visit the adoration chapel on the way to work.
—Mark Hart, the “Bible Geek,” VP of Life Teen, author, speaker, husband, father of three girls
If you’re in a funk, go to a funky soup kitchen. Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking less often of yourself.
—Father David Nix, St. Anthony Parish Sterling, Colo., Bike for the Unborn coordinator
Nothing cures a funk like prayer. Prayer is the funk-cure, it gets you out of your head. It also helps me to talk to good friends who, like the Lord, love me enough to tell me to snap myself back into reality! Ever hear the song “Stuck in the Moment” by U2? Great song for a funk.
—Chris Stefanick, author, speaker, director of youth outreach for YDisciple, husband, father of six (up from five as of last week)
Go for a walk and focus on the wonder of God’s creation; pray your way around the nearest park looking for small miracles. Make a pilgrimage to a church you’ve wanted to visit, have a date night with your spouse, make cookies with your kids. Even a slight diversion can help you see your surroundings with new eyes and appreciate them with a new heart.
—Father Bob Fisher, Colorado State Knights of Columbus chaplain, pastor All Souls Parish, Englewood, Colo.
Sometimes we become overwhelmed by too many activities, expectations and goals. Underneath our frenetic busyness is a hidden desire to be the perfect parent, perfect friend, the perfect me. When we don’t succeed, we get down on ourselves. When we accept ourselves as human and let go of the impossible effort to be perfect we begin to see ourselves the way God does. We discover we are loved not for what we achieve, but simply for who we are.
—Sister Kathleen Harmon, SNDdeN, Ph. D., liturgy expert and music director at Institute for Liturgical Ministry Dayton, Ohio
Spend time with a close friend. Though we don’t know the details, we do know that heaven is all about union with God and the communion of saints. We are relational beings! It’s worth the time and energy to develop intimate friendships with those who share our faith and values.
—Elizabeth Walker, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist, wife, mother of five
I often get out of a funk by recognizing there will always be noise and distractions, but I must be ready to unplug as often as I can and fill that regained time with prayer and silence. Seek the intercession of Our Blessed Mother.
—Randy Hain, business executive Atlanta, Ga., author of “The Catholic Briefcase,” husband, father of two boys
When I find myself in a funk, I try to actively do something for someone else: pray for them, lend a hand with a problem, or simply be a listening heart who hears their concerns. In these moments, I’m always reminded of the goodness of God’s love for me. Feeling sorry for yourself? Do something for someone else. A sure fire way to end a funk!
—Lisa Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com, author of “The Handbook for Catholic Moms,” wife, mother of two boys
It seems we get into a funk because we load ourselves down with details and not living in the moment. It sounds cliché but living in the moment is very Catholic. When we live in the moment we are giving to God what he desires from us: trust, the trust that we will be provided for. Pray each day that the inspiration of God will encourage you, and do not depend so much on yourself for all the answers.
—Father Joseph Hearty, F.S.S.P., Our Lady of Mount Carmel Latin Rite Parish Littleton, Colo.
Ask God for his help and advice. What is it that made you feel like a coward? Face up to this. What are you sad about? Look around, sit down with your family, and thank God that you are up every day and have your health. Bottom line: talk with God, find some upbeat people, and never give up on yourself.
—Pete Zarlengo, 86, raised in Denver orphanage; father of seven, grandfather of 17, great-grandfather of five, foster father for many, sponsor for 46 children internationally
You may want to save this post (I know I will). Bookmark it, print it, keep it handy; you never know when you might need a little pick-me-up.
Julie Filby, wife and mother of two (8 and 5 years old), is a reporter for the Denver Catholic Register newspaper. She blogs about everyday family and work life at Mother’s Musings.